Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has promised that his administration would provide and guarantee the enabling environment for United Kingdom investments in the state.
Governor Diri gave the pledge last Monday when he met with the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs. Catriona Laing, in Abuja.
He requested the envoy to pave the way for British investments in the state in the areas of agriculture, transportation, education, maritime, aquaculture, ICT amongst others.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the relationship between the UK and Bayelsa predated the creation of Nigeria, which was further consolidated by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Otuabagi, a community in the state, by Shell in February 1956.
He however noted that despite Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) being one of the leading oil companies in the state and the long history of economic relations with the UK, Bayelsa had nothing to show as there was no other investment from UK companies in the state.
Diri sought the UK government’s support and collaboration to establish a skills acquisition centre in the state that would train and empower women and youths in carpentry, refrigeration, solar power assembly, fashion designing and masonry.
Other areas are farming techniques for high-yield crops production, aquaculture, ICT as well as mechanical/electrical training.
“With Bayelsa occupying a major portion of Nigeria’s 853-kilometre coastline, the government intends to concentrate on fishery development, particularly deep-sea fishing.Bayelsa State has the best potential in Nigeria for the production of rice, cassava, yam, plantain, banana and palm produce. Our government is therefore embarking on a massive programme to train our youths in modern form of agriculture in order engage them in productive activities and divert them away from militancy, restiveness and criminal activities”, he said
“Bayelsa remains one of the main crude oil and gas production states both onshore and offshore. The state provides the best setting for oil and gas investment. About 60 per cent of Nigeria’s gas reserve is in Bayelsa and the government has resolved to create the best incentives and operating environment for all British investors through Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, he added.
Governor Diri also solicited support for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship to Bayelsa students as well as inter-city collaboration with either the city of London, Liverpool or Manchester in order to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure, urban planning and waste management.
“I equally seek grants from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support the state government’s urban renewal efforts in the provision of potable water, rural electrification, construction of schools/learning materials. We are aware that the FCDO’s Overseas Development Assistance through the Conflict Overseas Stability and Security Fund programme worked through the Social Democtatic Network, an NGO, in some communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state to carry out rice farming, which was successful. But this stopped since March 2020 and we wish to request that it resumes, this time, with collaboration with the state government for better results and continuity”, the governor noted.
He commended the envoy for the warm reception and presented a copy of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission (BSOEC) and an overview of its work, which he said highlighted the challenges Bayelsa people faced from decades of degradation of their environment.
In her brief response, the UK High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, thanked Governor Diri for the visit, saying the mission encouraged collaboration with states and organisations that border on mutual interests.
Laing said the UK was interested in the economic development of Bayelsa, particularly in the area of sustainable agriculture and other areas that the governor highlighted.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Bayelsa Revives Nembe-Brass Road Project
The project, which is one of the three senatorial roads in the State, had been on the drawing board of successive administrations in the country from the colonial era in the 1940s.
The Governor Douye Diri administration, which made it one of its campaign promises to the people of the area, revived the project with the first phase of 21km and 10 bridges awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited for N54.1billion.
The Tide gathered that the road when completed will open up the Brass Island, which has key national economic assets such as the Agip oil export terminal, the ongoing Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, and the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical projects.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director of Highways (South South), Mr. Godwin Eke, commended Governor Diri for commencing the project.
He said his ministry will leverage on the government’s current tax credit scheme with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to the advantage of the project, emphasising that road development was another way of delivering prosperity to the people and congratulated the State Government on the strides achieved.
In his address, Governor Diri said the road had suffered several setbacks but that his administration was determined to bring to an end the sufferings of the people of Nembe and Brass in the hands of sea pirates and kidnappers.
The Governor lamented that steps initiated by his government to benefit from the Federal Government tax relief scheme through the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum resources were frustrated by some forces at the centre.
He noted that as a government committed to serving the people, it commenced the bidding process for suitable contractors and congratulated Setraco for winning the bid, assuring the Nembe and Brass people of his government’s commitment to the project, regardless of the dwindling economic situation in the country.
“Let me appreciate the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Minister, who did not only reply when we wrote, but also showed keen interest in this project,” he said.
“We wanted to replicate what was being done in Bonny Island in Rivers State with the tax relief scheme of the present government at the centre. We thought that part of Agip’s tax remitted to the Federal Government can also be ploughed into construction of the Nembe-Brass road.
“Unfortunately, the reply we got from Agip was not encouraging. We, however, resolved that with or without Agip or any other person, this road must commence this year.
“We have all heard the history of this road dating back to the pre-independence era. I have also been told that even our former President, our own son, awarded the project for this same road for clearing.
“This road has suffered several setbacks. No wonder you find all the traditional leadership of Nembe present here today. That tells you the importance the people of Nembe Kingdom attach to this road. For us as a government, ours is to serve our people. These are the legacy projects that will speak for us and our children”, Governor Diri said.
The Bayelsa helmsman called on the youths and other stakeholders to take the project as their own and protect it, emphasizing the economic advantage of the road to the local economy as well as its attendant benefits to the nation at large.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Moses Teibowei, said the road will attract large investment to the Brass Island, which had the potential of an economic free trade zone and transform the area to an economic and tourism hub of the State.
Teibowei noted that the project was divided into three phases with the first phase commencing from Nembe to Saint Nicolas River, while the second phase will be a 600metre bridge crossing the river, and the third phase will be from the bridge to Twon-Brass.
Also, the Deputy Managing Director of Setraco Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ziad Muonanse, thanked the Governor for the confidence reposed in his company for construction of major roads in the styate, assuring that the company would deliver on the project to the highest of standards and within the stipulated time.
In a goodwill message, the Amanyanabo of Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru, expressed gratitude to Governor Diri for bringing to fruition a dream that had long been on their minds.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe, King Josiah Biobelemoye, described Diri as a true reflection of a miracle to the people of Nembe Kingdom through the groundbreaking of the project.
Meanwhile, the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass and first Military Administrator of Old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, also commended Governor Diri for working towards ending the pain of the people.
In the same vein, his Okpoama Kingdom counterpart, King Ebitimi Banigo, noted hat after more than 50 years, their dream finally came true through the passion shown by Diri, promising that the gesture would be reciprocated by the people of the area.
The Tide gathered that the project is estimated to be completed in 24 to 36 months.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Army Constructs Health Centre In Edo Community
The Tide’s source reports that the remodeled facility is one of the quick impact projects approved for various communities across the country by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya.
Yahaya, in his remarks shortly after inaugurating the facility, said the projects were executed in less privileged communities to provide succour in areas of needs.
He also said they were geared towards promoting civil/military cooperation and enhancing support for the Nigerian Army operations.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Markus Kangye, Chief of Civil/Military Affairs, the COAS noted that the Nigerian Army under his leadership was fully aware of the high level of cooperation the Nigerian Army enjoyed from the civil populace in Edo, particularly.
He said the army had over the years, taken deliberate steps to honour and ensure it gave back to the society, the cooperation it had received by upholding its corporate social responsibilities.
“This is being done in line with my vision of having a professional Nigerian Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment.
“In pursuance of this, I have ensured that senior officers from various communities in the country are connected to the larger populace, to enhance our civil/military relationship.
“This is one of the non kinetic aspect of our military operations,” he said.
The COAS further said in this respect, the need to ensure a good and cordial relationship with the civil populace and host communities where military operations were conducted, could not be over emphasised.
“This cordial relationship necessitated the conception of the construction and equipping of the health centre we are inaugurating today.
“This is very much in line with the civil military cooperation of the Nigerian Army which is tailored towards bridging the community gap with the Nigerian Army and the civil populace.”
Yahaya noted that the army had enjoyed and would continue to enjoy the cooperation of residents of the State in surmounting the challenges of insecurity.
“The Nigerian Army, with the support of other security agencies, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring general security of the country.” the COAS said.
“The project inaugurated today is one of several civil/military cooperation related projects and quick impact projects executed in various parts of the country,” the COAS further said.
In her remarks, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, said the project was a dream come true for the community in particular and the State in general.
Akoria said Edo currently had 504 PHCs, adding that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to improve these centres.
She said this was to ensure that they could serve the people and purpose for which they were built.
“That is why we are happy today to be part of the inauguration and handing over ceremony of this PHC.
“Ours is now to activate this centre and make it an example of the dream of the Edo Government.
“Ours now is to be sure that we have a pharmacy technician, who will be supervised by the pharmacist.
“We will also ensure there is a doctor as well as other staff to ensure that residents of Unogbo Community get quality medical care in the community.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Nigerian Army Special Projects, Maj.-Gen. Phillip Eromosele, a son of the community who inspired the execution of the project, said he was motivated to make positive change in his community.
According to him, “I didn’t want people in the community now to pass through what we passed through while growing up here, so I was motivated to make a positive change”.
USAID, NGO Train 2,000 Youths, Women On Cassava Value Chain
Revemi’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oreva Amata, disclosed this at a capacity building workshop, tagged, “Eki Farmers Support Programme”, organised by the company for peasant farmers in Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
Amata noted that the programme was sponsored by USAID in partnership with Delta State Government and Townstalk.
According to him, Revemi, an Integrated Agrotech and Agro Commodities Trading Company, has as target to train 10,000 based pyramid farmers and equip them with requisite information on how to plant, harvest, process and market their products to make money.
“We started the training in February this year, in Delta North. In June, we also trained those in Delta Central, and today, we are training farmers from Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
“So far, we have trained over 2,000 low pyramid farmers but we are targeting 10,000 farmers in the State,” he said.
On the choice of cassava, Amata said that cassava remains a crop in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in addition to the many by-product that cassava offers to the market.
Noting that it has capacity to grow Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products, he said: “Our mission is to bridge the critical gap in food security in Africa.
“As a first class graduate of economics, every time I heard that farmers are poor in Africa. This is contradictory because foreign nationals are making billions of money from agriculture.
“Revemi as winner of the COVID-19 Food Security challenge in 2021, we won a grant from the USAID to carry out this training to liberate our poor farmers from hunger, increase their income by linking them up to the market.”
“Agriculture is the backbone of development in any nation, it creates jobs for youths and women and also ensure security because the youths will be gainfully employed,” Amata said.
He said his company would link all the trained farmers to sources of finance, provide them with information on climate change, weather conditions and availability of land across the State and from government sources.
On his part, the Assistant Director, State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource, Mr Anslem Emikpe, advised the farmers to form clusters to enable them engage Government, access funds and land.
Also, Dr Friday Okei, a Resource Person, said training on cassava value chain exposes the farmers to varieties of byproducts of cassava, such as starch, flour, garri, chips, raw material for production of alcohols and drugs and others.
In an interview, Managing Director, Uzere Cassava Processing Factory, Mr Samuel Askia, urged the farmers and governments to take positive initiative on what the NGO is doing, adding that the training gives hope for a brighter future for farmers in Nigeria.
“It is time for us to see agriculture as a commercial venture, so that we can benefit from the support the government at the centre is giving,” he said.
The beneficiaries, Mr Lawrence Ugwologho and Mrs Martha Odus lauded the programme and thanked the organisers for impacting them with the right knowledge on best practices on cassava value chain.
They said the training had reawakened their minds on how to plant, harvest, process and market their cassava to make money for the family.
They, however, called for additional support in finance and land to expand cassava cultivation in the State.
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