For three days between the 16th and 19th of July, the Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, hosted an array of policy experts, company executives, business leaders and top government officials, who converged to have a close look at the issues of development in the state. The occasion was the maiden Bayelsa Investment and Economic Forum with the theme: “Unlocking Bayelsa State’s Economic Potentials: Opportunities and Challenges” which drew over 400 participants from across the world. The forum was organized to showcase the state’s investment potentials to investors, who could take advantage of the government’s ambitious drive to diversify its economy via private sector participation.
Declaring the event open, President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, was categorical in his endorsement of the state government’s development initiatives to bolster its economy and recommended the vast economic resources that abound in the state to prospective investors, urging them to see Bayelsa as a haven of investment opportunities. He, however, harped on the need for peace and unity without, which no meaningful development can take place not only in the Niger Delta, but the nation as a whole. He noted that, the unique coastline and green vegetation of the State, if well harnessed, would increase the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson, who was enthusiastic about the large turnout and participation, spelt out the rationale for the inward looking approach by the state government to diversify its economy and the clarion call on serious investors to come into the state and invest. According to him, his conviction on the on-going economic restructuring was informed by his ” observation on first-hand, the acute poverty and huge challenges of unemployment and job creation” adding that, he became further convinced that “building a robust, productive and diversified economy was not just going to be an imperative, but was rather going to be a priority”. Accordingly, on assumption of duty, he said, most of the critical steps he took were aimed at building the cardinal imperative upon which the government’s policy thrust will be delivered.
No doubt, these are courageous perspectives. Indeed, the governor’s convictions are not only necessary with similar economies in the nation today, because of their peculiar under-development indices, but also apply globally where the issues of job creation and poverty alleviation remain on the front burner of public discourses. For there can hardly be any meaningful development in an economy without a sound productive base. The situation in Bayelsa State, the governor noted, had become increasingly unsustainable considering the huge cost of running the government vis-à-vis the cost of development and thus the logical way forward was to create alternative means of generating income by building productive capacities. The larger context is to prepare the state for an economy beyond oil and gas, which is a smart policy drive in an era of unpredictability in the oil market and the obvious implications.
Governor Dickson explained the systematic steps the government has so far taken to arrive at this point of convincing and attracting investors to the state, noting in particular the challenge of security, now overcome, as the state had spent huge resources in providing effective security network across the state, which had consequently ensured the peace and serene atmosphere in the state. The governor was emphatic on this note, saying it is a fact that he authenticates every morning from automatically generated system call logs. Reinforcing his convictions on the tranquility that now pervades the state, Dickson went on to inform the crowd of participants at the investment and economic forum, that the success of the government’s efforts in addressing the security challenges had led to the return of nightlife and businesses to Yenagoa.
Culled from Nigeria This Day Newspaper