2 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, has urged Nigerians, especially the youths in the oil and gas-rich Niger Delta to embrace the opportunities in the maritime sector.
Sylva contended that full involvement of the people of the region in the shipping sector would help address the ills militating against the sustainable development of the country over the years.
In a veiled reference to the magnitude of manpower needed in the building of ocean going vessels, the governor maintained that youths presently roaming the streets for non-existent jobs could be gainfully employed in ship building and repairs in the country.
The governor stated this in a paper titled “Growth Opportunities for Ijaw Professionals and Business Owners in the Niger Delta”, at a forum organised by members of Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) in Lagos.
The paper, presented by the Executive Assistant to the Governor, Mrs. Julie Donli, chronicled how the people of the Niger Delta region has come a long way in their quest to take their destiny in their own hands.
“I truly feel a sense of pride and fulfilment for the new consciousness and the bid for self-actualisation among our people after long years of neglect and marginalisation. I am particularly delighted that the Ijaws who constitute the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria have realised the need to gather in this manner under a common banner, to discuss and proffer solutions on the best way to explore the growth opportunities that abound in the landscape of the Niger Delta region.
“This singular resolve to gather here clearly shows that you have not only taken the lead of driving the process of taking our destiny in our hands, but have also proved yourself as worthy ambassadors of Ijaw descent, who have the development of our people deeply at heart,” he said.
Stressing the need for an overview of some of the investment opportunities that abound in the Niger Delta region so that the people of the area can take full advantage, the governor expressed dismay that despite its rich resources, the Niger Delta region represents the worst state of poverty and under development in the third world.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 2006 Niger Delta Human Development Report described the area as a place of frustrated expectations. The direct consequences of these frustrations, which we have been contending with over the years took the centre-stage in the last ten years with youth restiveness, hostage-taking, pipeline vandalisation and stealing of crude oil”, he said.
The governor however expressed hope that the ills of the past could be redressed if Nigerians, particularly the people of the Niger Delta region embrace the shipping sector of the economy by leveraging on their comparative advantage to make a difference.