Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has identified lack of business initiatives, indolence and irresponsible behaviour as contributing factors to unemployment and poverty in the state.
Governor Dickson, who spoke with newsmen in Yenagoa, decried a situation where people fail to take responsibility for their lives, but rather blame government for any misfortune that befalls them.
He said it was in realization of “this emerging dangerous trend (begging), which is alien to the Ijaw culture”, that his administration decided to take some reformation measures, which he noted have started yielding positive results.
The Governor noted, that though some of the reforms are misconstrued and were being implemented at great political cost, he would not be deterred as they are all intended to build a better Bayelsa.
He spoke on efforts at diversifying the local economy from the oil and gas sector, stressing that his administration released about 10 billion naira as a take-off grant to the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) which has since begun operation.
According to him, through effective collaboration the corporation currently has a total asset base of about 200 billion naira.
While, lamenting what he describes as lack of enterprising spirit and high dependency rate on government, Hon Dickson announced that the state Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Trust Fund, which he initiated with an initial donation of 250 million naira has grown to about 15 billion naira through private participation.
He said: “We have already attracted responsible senior corporate citizens to donate about 15 billion naira into the SME development fund. This is not free cash for anybody and it will not even be in the hands of government. First Bank Plc has already pledged 10 billion naira and other banks will follow and they will make about 20 billion naira available.
“But the truth is that, most of our people do not know how to do business in our state and in the Ijaw nation. You see people do well, maybe when they are in government or so, but once patronage from government ends, they also go down because they don’t know how to create and sustain wealth”.
Worried by this development, it would be recalled that the Governor charged the new commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Barr. Kemela Okara, to initiate policies that could foster economic empowerment of the people.
The commissioner was also asked to work hard to promote the growth of small and medium industries as well as attract investors to the state.
He was quoted as saying, “I thank you for accepting to join me to serve our people. But I must tell you that you have a great task ahead of you because changing an already established mindset of the people is not easy. A situation where a young man or woman wakes up in the morning and just loiter around without any fixed idea of what to do for that day, the next day or even the year or the year following is worrisome. So, we have got generations of not only unemployed people, but also people who are essentially unemployable.
“It is therefore your responsibility to give policy direction to ensure that we deliver on creating wealth and more employment opportunities for our people. You are to come up with policies to promote the growth of small and medium scale industries and oversee the development of industrial clusters and parks in the state”.
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