Bayelsa State has promised to provide and guarantee the enabling business environment for United Kingdom investments in the state.
Governor Douye Diri made the pledge on Monday when he met with the UK 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, Information and Communications Technology among others.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, noted that the relationship between the UK and Bayelsa predated Nigeria’s creation, and was consolidated by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in a Bayelsa by Shell in February 1956.
He, however, noted that despite Shell Petroleum Development Company 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.
His words, “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 agriculture to engage them in productive activities and divert them away from militancy, restiveness and criminal activities.”
According to Diri, Bayelsa remains one of the main crude oil and gas production states, both onshore and offshore.
He commended the envoy for the warm reception and presented a copy of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission 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, Laing thanked Diri for the visit, saying the mission encouraged collaboration with states and organisations that border on mutual interests.
She 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.
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