GOV DICKSON HARPS ON DIVERSIFICATION OF NIGERIA’S ECONOMY, BLAMES OVER DEPENDENCE ON OIL AS THE BANE OF THE ECONOMY
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has blamed the present economic woes of the country on the over-dependence on crude oil revenues by successive administrations.
Governor Dickson, who stated this on Monday while speaking on a live programme on Africa Independent Television, AIT, emphasized that, until the national economy is diversified, the country would continue to experience harsh economic realities.
He pointed out that, the present import-oriented monolithic economy places Nigeria in a precarious situation as the country is not in a position to influence oil prices at the international market.
He, therefore, underscored the need for all states to identify sectors where they have comparative advantage with a view to developing such areas to create wealth and job opportunities.
On his efforts to diversify the Bayelsa economy, Governor Dickson said, the government was working in collaboration with reputable partners both within and outside the country to boost agricultural production to ensure food security as well as create employment for the people.
His words: “Over the years, there has been over reliance on oil revenues to the utter neglect of agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, which shouldn’t have been allowed to be. And we have not been able to get the power situation right, which will also aid industrialization.
“Our country should have known that over-reliance on oil revenues is a very risky step for our national economy. As a matter of fact, it is a national security issue because you are dealing with an oil politics that you don’t even control at the global level. So when the big world powers calculate their national interest and play the sort of games that they play from time to time, then those of us who are totally dependent on oil revenues; who don’t have proactive leadership suffer for it. We have no excuse for reducing the country to that level.
According to the Governor, his administration has established a 400 hectares of cassava farm at Ebedebiri in Sagbama local government area in addition to a cassava processing plant, which he described as the largest in the country being constructed by a Danish company.
Governor Dickson called on investors to take advantage of the state’s vast resources in gas to generate power, arguing that it would be more profitable to make investments in areas where the much needed raw materials are readily available.
Consequently, he announced that Bayelsa would hold its second investment summit with focus on agriculture and power generation towards reducing unemployment as well as creating sustainable economic development and prosperity.
According to him, through aggressive desire to broaden the state’s economy, his administration has succeeded in shoring up the internally generated revenue base of the state from a paltry sum of N50 million at the inception of the present government to about N800 million monthly.
“In Bayelsa, since we came in, there has been an aggressive desire to broaden the economy beyond oil revenues. We are investing seriously in agriculture. We have a massive cassava farm at Ebedebiri. We are working with European companies and very soon, the biggest cassava processing plant in this country will happen in Bayelsa. We are working on a major aqua culture project with some Israeli firms as well as massive poultry projects, some of which have been completed so that some youths can be trained.”
Governor Dickson, who acknowledged the lull in the execution of projects in the state occasioned by the shortfall in the federal allocation, assured that, no project would be abandoned.
He said by next month, most of the completed projects, which were earlier billed for commissioning by former President Goodluck Jonathan will be inaugurated just as the Teachers’ Training Academy at Bolou Orua would be put to use by September this year.