Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has appealed to foreign investors to come to the state and explore the economic potential beyond its depleting oil resources.
Governor Diri, who spoke on Tuesday evening at one of the closing sessions of the annual global investors meeting known as the Dubai Expo 2020 holding at the picturesque Dubai Exhibition Centre in the United Arab Emirates, said Bayelsa is an amazing state with several investment opportunities waiting to be harnessed.
The Bayelsa governor said the state, which was created in 1996, seeks investors to develop its agricultural potential in areas it had comparative advantage such as in rice, cassava, plantain, sugarcane, oil palm production as well as in fisheries and aquaculture.
He invited investors to partner with the state to exploit its rich mangrove forests and natural beaches to make it a tourists’ haven.
Diri stressed that Bayelsa’s sprawling coastline, which is the longest in Nigeria, provided vast opportunities for power generation ranging from wind to tidal and solar energy.
His words: “It gives me a special pleasure to introduce to you what I sincerely describe as an opportunity of a lifetime – to come invest in amazing Bayelsa State. We know that investment is key to attaining the lofty socio-economic goals that will sustain our youths or alleviate the poverty that still challenges significant numbers of our people.
“We are taking the necessary steps with our Strategic State Development Plan of integrating the private sector in our development and growth agenda as well as ensuring that the structures and policies are competitive and in tandem with international best practice.”
The Bayelsa helmsman emphasised that actions already taken have put the state on a positive trajectory, stating that a recent Ease-of-Doing Business report rated Bayelsa highest in the South-South region as well as being adjudged as one of the safest states to do business in the country.
“Our state is one of the leading producers of oil and gas in Nigeria. There is however much more to Bayelsa than its abundant oil and gas deposits. These include but are not limited to agriculture, where our arable land gives us comparative advantage in the production of rice, cassava, sugarcane, oil palm and plantain.
“In the area of tourism, with our lush mangrove forests and natural beaches, we have humongous unexploited opportunities to make the state a tourists’ paradise.
“Apart from captive fishery, which has done particularly well in our clime, our extensive coastline is also suitable for commercial fishing and for power generation ranging from wind to tidal and solar energy.”
Stating that his administration was continuing with the construction of a deep-sea port, he assured investors that it would assiduously work to remove any impediments that would constrain their ability and investments.
“We have a significant infrastructure deficit and it is our hope that investors will see the value to partner with us to expand the scope of our development,” he said.
Governor Diri also held meetings with the UAE Minister of Economy, the country’s ambassador to Nigeria as well as representatives of the Saudi Arabia Fund for Development.
The Dubai Expo 2020, which ends on March 31, attracted exhibitors and participants from over 190 countries, including 14 states from Nigeria.
Other Nigerian governors present were Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
Also in attendance were Solomon Lalong (Plateau), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger) and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State.
Sokoto, Yobe, Cross River and Enugu also participated at the forum.