By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Samuel Oyadongha
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has reiterated his administration’s focus on investing in critical infrastructure that drives economic growth to attract investors to the state.
He also said the well-intended plan of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states to invest in oil blocs under the BRACED Commission, a regional institution, was marred by politics.
He spoke at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, where business and political leaders from across Africa and other parts of the world gathered for a two-day conference.
Dickson, according to his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr Daniel Alabrah, said: “We have made major strides. I keep saying that investment in education is the ultimate.
“We have built a lot of schools, from primary to secondary. We have also built two universities— the University of Africa and the Bayelsa Medical University— as well as a state polytechnic and college of education.
“We have done a lot also in the area of healthcare because you must keep the people healthy to enable them to participate in what you are doing.
“We have provided wonderful health facilities and policies. For instance, our health insurance scheme is covering over 150,000 persons. We have a special programme for pregnant women to be able to address the issue of infant and maternal mortality.
“This is what it means to invest in the people. When you do that, you are investing in stability and peace.
“We have invested in agriculture, infrastructure and roads. We have dualised many roads in our very difficult terrain. We are not just building for the present, but also for the future. Now people are talking about the airport that we built.
“It is because we want to provide the necessary infrastructure that will drive economic growth that can make people come and invest and do business in Bayelsa. Now we are working on the deep sea port.
“All we are doing is to open up the state so we can bring the world to Bayelsa,” he said.
Dickson, who had a joint session with his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr Kayode Fayemi, also spoke on the BRACED Commission, saying the South-South regional bloc was not dead but that more work needed to be done.
His words: “In the South-South, we have the BRACED Commission comprising Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta. The reason for such a regional bloc is that if the states come together, those things we cannot do individually, we may do collectively.
“For instance, we had the regional body encouraging all our states to invest in the power sector when Nigeria introduced privatisation. Now we have the 4Power Consortium Limited, which is jointly owned by Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states.
“We used the company to acquire assets in the biggest power company in the region, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, which we jointly own.
“I listened to the President of Rwanda explains his country’s current relationship with neighbouring Uganda and it struck a chord. Unfortunately, politics sometimes get in the way of most laudable programmes.”