06 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said that Rivers State has no reason not to be a prosperous state owing to her geo-strategic location and abundant oil and gas reserve.
The former governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, who disclosed this at a meeting with Rivers-based professionals in Port Harcourt, said geo-strategically, Rivers State was one of the two states in the country with two seaports, the Onne Seaport, and the Rivers Port Complex, with several terminals, where ships berth and leave the country.
Peterside who was the Guest Speaker at the event tagged ‘Business Rivers’, regretted that the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, shows that the state was number one in unemployment and underemployment in the country.
He stated that the reason the state was not progressing was that of the wrong choices made, explaining that economy was a function of policies and policy a function of politics.
Peterside who decried that unemployment rate in the state has risen to 41.82percent as against 20percent in 2010, said the way forward was for Rivers people to hold their leaders accountable.
According to him, “We are an endowed state; we are a major crude oil producing state, and so, if it is a natural resource, we have no excuse not to be a prosperous state. We are number one in gas reserve in the country and so, if it is a natural resource, we have no reason not to be a prosperous state.
“We are geo-strategically located. If you recall, the only resource Singapore has that has made Singapore a prosperous nation, is because of their geo-strategic location. They are the gateway to the South-East of Asia. Nothing else, they have no resource at all. Also, South Korea has no natural resource at all.
“We are one of two states with two airports. We are the only state with a petrochemical plant. We are one of the few states with a fertilizer plant. We are the only state with two refineries. So, there is absolutely no excuse why we shouldn’t be prosperous.”
Dr. Dakuku Peterside also said the data released by NBS which puts Rivers State as number one in unemployment and underemployment in the country, was not a product of political calculation, but a product of scientific research by the bureau which was verifiable.
He said the GDP difference between Rivers and Lagos was widening by the day geometrically, adding that in 2010 the difference between Rivers and Lagos was just $10billion but in 2018 the margin has widened with almost $70bilion difference.
In his words, “The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics says we are number one in unemployment and underemployment in the country. It is very easy to dismiss it as just numbers, but if you know what the unemployment and underemployment index represents, you will understand that it is not just numbers for number’s sake.
“In 2010, our unemployment rate was 20percent, today our unemployment rate is 41.82percent. We have made progress in unemployment and underemployment. What it means is that out of every ten persons, who live and work in Rivers State, four and a fraction are not employed or underemployed. That means, we have a huge unemployed population.
“These are some of the indicators of our economy. In industrialization, in 2010, the Gross Domestic Product of Rivers State was $21billion, while that of Lagos State was $31billion. But today, the GDP of Lagos after seven years is $91billion, while that of Rivers State today is $22billion. Which means that in Lagos, the volume of products and services have grown three times in a period of seven years, while Rivers has grown by only $1billion.
“This is where we are; these are the indicators of the state of our economy. When you say people are leaving Port Harcourt in droves, or businesses are not thriving, these are the indicators. What went wrong? What went wrong are the choices we have made. The economy is a function of policies; policy is a function of politics. Politics determines the kind of leaders that we have.
“The same way the human body cannot function without the brain, the policy, a state, or a subnational cannot function without leaders. Leaders make decisions that affect outcomes. If we make a set of decisions, it will give us a set of outcomes. If we make different decisions, it will give us a different outcome, whichever choices we make, influences the actions we get,” Peterside said.