Bayelsa State Governor, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson at the recent Oloibiri Round Table which held at the ongoing Onshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, USA, said investing in Nigeria is good business but investing in Bayelsa is better business.
I welcome you all to the second Bayelsa-Oloibiri Round Table. Last year, we had our first Bayeslsa-Oloibiri Round Table and it was by the way, my very first time of being at the OTC and I truly enjoyed being here while I sat through most of your sessions which is known by my good friend, Dr. Emeka Okorafo, Chairman of PETAN and others. I thank you for facilitating all the interactions we had last year. Chief Timi Alaibe was also part of the last year’s Bayelsa-Oloibiri Round Table, thank you for attending, Alaibe.
I sat through most of your sessions because I wanted to understand more about this industry; this industry that started in Oloibiri in our great state of Bayelsa which is one of the reasons we say good things begin from Bayelsa. The story of Nigeria and oil, what made Nigeria first to be a regional power, a continental player were oil and gas and they started in my state, Bayelsa, in a community called Oloibiri.
Last year when I came and saw what was going on in this great and wonderful city, Houston, that has been called the oil and gas capital of the world I understand. So, I told myself, if Houston is the oil and gas capital of the United States of America and the world, clearly, my state, the great state of Bayelsa is the oil and gas capital and hub not just of Nigeria, but of Africa!
I told Joe, the chairman of this event, Dr. Emeka Okorafo, Chairman of PETAN that we needed to have a round table and get people to hear about Bayelsa and Oloibiri. That was how we started the first Bayelsa-Oloibiri round table last year and today again, we are here for the second edition. So I want to welcome you all for finding timeout of your very tight schedules to be here with us.
Now the Bayelsa-Oloibiri round table is an opportunity for us to explore the various potentials that still exists in my state and in my country, our country, Nigeria. For those non-Nigerians who are here, I always say anywhere I go that investing in Nigeria is good business because our country has a lot of wonderful opportunities; a nation of rare possibilities with over two hundred million people. The real strength of the Nigerian economy is not so much about the population and that you know, rather it is so much more about the influence that you cannot fathom from outside.
He who controls the Nigerian market, controls the entire West-African sub-region. We are talking of a very huge market. But I also keep telling everyone as I would like to state again that whereas it is good to invest in Nigeria, whereas investing in Nigeria is good business, investing in Bayelsa is better business! In Bayelsa, investors enjoy a lot of incentives and they are guaranteed a high return on investment!
My friends and colleagues in our government have explained some of the initiatives we’ve been pursuing in the past six years of our Restoration Government, and you have seen how wonderful they all are; all Bayelsans. What I do as the team leader, is to assemble the team, provide direction and work to co-ordinate the work. We are a government that has a clear focus and vision of where we want our people to be and a number of you may not know that as a result of the work we’ve been doing, in my state, Bayelsa now has the best set of public schools in Nigeria. I mean public, not private schools. We are pursuing a revolutionary educational intervention program by which right now we have close to ten thousand young boys and girls in state boarding facilities, all built by us. Note that there were no boarding schools when we assumed office in 2012. Today, we have changed that narrative as we have democratised knowledge by building free boarding schools across all Bayelsa communities.
In a school alone; the Ijaw National Academy (INA), we have over 1,300 boys and girls. I started from this point because the real wealth of any society is the quality of human resource. That’s where everything else takes off from and we are doing exactly that and there is no state in Nigeria that is dong such.
We also have the best set of medical facilities now, that’s what we mean by investing in people. Yes we have undertaken very ambitious infrastructural initiatives but these investments in infrastructure are in themselves, investments in the economy, investments in the people, investments to make investments possible and not an end in themselves.
So when you see us building very ambitious roads and bridges, despite our ‘very friendly’ terrain, we do so not because we simply want to build long bridges and roads. It is important to note that roads in Bayelsa are actually bridges because construction in my state requires that you create land first before you put out something else on what you have created.
Tonight, we are here not to talk about challenges but opportunities.
Having invested as we have done in the social sector which is also critical, I want to spend the rest two years I have to expand the base of the state’s economy, taking advantage of the resources we have; human beings and then the natural resources.
Nigeria’s enormous oil and gas reserve is located in our region and Bayelsa is the epicentre of that region. My state has over 40% of the gas reserves in Nigeria and over 30% of the oil reserves. So that tells you that we are a state that has a lot of potentials.
So tonight, if there are business men and women who are looking for opportunities, the country to come to is Nigeria and the state to be is the state of Bayelsa of course. You have heard a short while ago from my colleagues, the opportunities there are in the Eco-Industrial City where my friend and colleague, Mr. Denzel Kentebe is chairman. We are building a city that will be powered by our abundant gas resources and we have already established contacts and we are working with the oil companies who have more or less guaranteed us access to gas.
So you do not need to be in far away places, where you will have to undertake the extra burden of looking for money to construct long pipelines to transport gas to locations where they are needed when all you simply need is to come to the home of gas itself which is Bayelsa.
We are creating a power hub and Engineer Olis is one of the most experienced persons in that area. We have already created the Bayelsa power company to work with investors to ease the attendant processes and also sign an off-take agreement with investors.
So you invest your money, use our gas to provide power, and the Bayelsa Power Company buys it off. It is the duty of the Bayelsa Power Company to sell the power and it is our government’s responsibility is to create the enabling environment for investments to thrive, which we have evidently worked hard to achieve and have maintained in the last six years.
There are so many things going on. You have heard about the Agge Deep Sea Port which is actually one of the most strategic port developments not just in Nigeria, but in the entire Gulf of Guinea Region, is taking place in my state. As we speak, the first set of development is ongoing and is being undertaken by the Nigerian Military. They are in Agge already as our contractors, contractors of the great state of Nigeria, building the Forward Operation Base that will accommodate the men and officers that will provide essential security. They are equally building the customs facility and all of that.
So we are here talking about things that are on ground, actually going on and not long term plans and postulations and we are inviting your participation and collaboration.
You have heard of the Bayelsa International Airport; the largest airport project undertaken by a state government even in a period of recession. I have been governor for six years now out of which we have managed four years of recession, the worst our country has gone through in the past 25 to 30 years. But we have prudently managed the scarce resources to build schools, roads, bridges, word-class health facilities, airport, aquaculture village and other big ticket-legacy projects because we have a clear vision of where we want our state to be and Bayelsans are happy and they trust us.
All I can say is that in Bayelsa, you have a state that is at peace with itself and a state that is at peace with the rest of the world. You have a state that is clearly focused on development, stability and prosperity and it is this Bayelsa that I invite you all to join me to expand its frontiers. Bayelsa has arisen; Bayelsa is ready for Business; Bayelsa is inviting you all to be a part of the development and the prosperity that we envisioned and have laid a foundation for.
Ladies and Gentlmen, it is to that Bayelsa that I welcome you all to.
I have been receiving and interacting with various interested investors since I got here and I hope to do more of that till I return.
So if there is anyone out here who is interested in an investment in our Industrial City, if there is anyone who is interested in the most beautiful real estate investment going on; the new Yenagoa City which has both a Golf Course, a Polo Club, Heliport, a five star hotel, the place to be is Bayelsa State. If anyone is interested in adding value to our Airport, our Heliport where we intend to run shuttle services within Bayelsa and around the Niger Delta, Bayelsa is where you should come to.
We have oil assets in our oil fields and we are here for collaborations as to how we can develop these assets to create wealth and spread prosperity among our people.
We hope to have this kind of forum in Yenagoa before the next OTC in Houston. The Bayelsa-Oloibiri round table is not only for OTC but remains a wonderful opportunity to tell the Bayelsa Story and I thank you all for your interest. God bless.