Second Bayelsa State Investment And Economic Forum – Unfolding Bayelsa State’s Industrial Future

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I am grateful for the opportunity to address this August gathering on the occasion of the 2nd Bayelsa State Investment and Economic Forum. To start with, I must commend His Excellency, the Governor and his team, for giving this a well-deserved priority attention. Investment Promotion and Economic Development are issues at the heart of the nation’s viability. That is why, as you are no doubt aware, development of the economy and employment alongside security, anti-corruption and power, feature so prominently on His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari’s national agenda for positively turning around our ailing economy.

As Chairman of the National Economic Council, I am particularly interested in all initiatives geared towards spurring socio-economic growth. The theme of this year’s forum cannot therefore be more apposite for the country and indeed Bayelsa State at this time in our history – “Unfolding Bayelsa State’s Industrial Future.

An industry connotes economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods, often with the use of machinery and usually in factories. It is a well-known fact that the so-called most developed nations in the world are also industrialized countries. Indeed, recent research suggests that economic development requires structural change from low to high productivity activities and that the industrial sector is a key engine of growth in the development process. The development of industries has wide implications for the quality of our educational institutions, employment prospects for our youth and technology transfers.

From the agenda for this year’s forum, I can see that you intend to showcase Bayelsa State’s proposed Eco-Industrial Park, Brass Oil and Gas City (a Free Trade Zone) and the Agge Deep Sea Port to the world. I also understand that you are trying to project the image of Bayelsa State as a destination of choice for investments in the oil and gas, power and agricultural sectors. These are laudable objectives and I wish to assure the people of Bayelsa State that the Federal Government is ready to partner with the State on sound, pro-poor and sustainable investment ideas and opportunities.

Permit me to talk briefly about the role the Bayelsa State Government is expected to play in ensuring that the State’s industrial future becomes a reality. First, the State Government must be guided by the Rule of Law at all times and, in so doing, should simultaneously focus on developing a vibrant, knowledgeable and independent Judiciary.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to these sorts of initiatives is corruption. It is known to deter well-meaning and capable long-term investors from investing in the country and kill industries before they become viable. I would therefore urge you to adopt strong codes of business ethics to guide your investment drive.

A lot of attention must be paid to the criminal justice sector to improve its speed, effectiveness and efficiency, particularly through improved cooperation between the law enforcement agencies, Ministry of Justice, Judiciary and prison officials. I have been informed that the State Government has introduced a Case-flow Management System to encourage the electronic filing of court processes, case tracking, cause list monitoring and so on. This is important for the Judiciary and justice sector from an efficiency perspective.

As Government, we must strive to significantly reduce the amount of waste in our undue reliance on paper. I have additionally been informed, that the State is beginning to develop on its capacity to provide forensic support for law enforcement and other relevant purposes. This is indeed commendable and I wish to urge you to persevere in ensuring that these initiatives come to fruition.

Secondly, security must remain a first priority for both the Federal and State Governments. The experience of Lagos State is worthy of mention in this regard. The State experienced significantly increased investment after the level of security improved, particularly in the hotel and hospitality, fast food and night entertainment industries. Thirdly, the Government must remain open to consultations and collaborations with corporations to meet the development and employment needs of local communities. At this stage in our development, we cannot afford to neglect the needs of local communities as they are the ones we are here to serve. We must therefore look at establishing a synergy or symbiotic relationship between new investments and support for small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs).

Fourthly, the Government must ensure compliance with regulatory standards and be fair in its dealings with all investors alike. The world is increasingly going green and Bayelsa State should not be left behind. We need to begin to encourage industries to be more environmentally friendly. Finally, the Government must put in place measures to make life easy and reduce operating costs for investors. I urge you therefore to develop a one-stop shop for the processing of all State-level business licences and permits. The Federal Government will be in a better position to partner with you where you have such facilities already in existence. Furthermore, investors need infrastructure, infrastructure and of course more, infrastructure. This is an area we cannot afford to neglect. It is our responsibility to create a business-friendly environment that the best global corporations will find attractive.

I am happy to see that there are tangible achievements from last year’s forum, particularly the signing of five (5) MoUs for investment in the power, communications technology, financing for SMEs and agricultural sectors. In conclusion, I wish to commend the organizers of this event for following up on last year’s forum with an even more interesting topic for this year. It is an overt acknowledgment of the need for Government to continue to play its part in the development process. I wish you fruitful deliberations and success in your endeavours.

I thank you for listening.


"Investors need infrastructure, infrastructure and of course more, infrastructure. This is an area we cannot afford to neglect. It is our responsibility to create a business-friendly environment that the best global corporations will find attractive."