By Osa Okhomina
Michel Arrion, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria, has commended the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson for his administration’s decision to invest in health, education and security infrastructures in the State, saying the available infrastructures in the state will ensure an enabling environment for investors to do business.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Michel Arrion,who gave the commendation during a call on the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson after a 3days visit said he was overwhelmed at the quality of schools and health institutions built by the government and expressed the EU’s desire to support Bayelsa in key sector of the state’s economy.
According to him, Bayelsa State has benefited from its programmes since 2008 through some of its development partners. He stressed that the EU’s focus on going forward would, among others, be centered on technical and vocational education.
“The EU’s interest will also be geared towards creating more jobs and boost the state’s economy.The government should identify other areas of interest for investment”.
The EU Ambassador also noted that due to the historic ties and values between Africa and Europe, a lot of Europeans are eager to come and put their money and Bayelsa is one of the fancied destinations for them.
He said, “We have nine years of cooperation in Bayelsa and the state has benefited a lot from our development projects like health and water. Sometimes you don’t see us because we give money to UNICEF to implement the projects. We also give a substantial amount of money to the world bank and they are implementing SEEFOR but we will like to be more in Bayelsa State.
“We have seen what you are doing in education and we want to come in and take a key component of it which is technical and vocational education. One thing that brings investors is an enabling environment which is here. So let us together look at areas we can work closely. There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities here.
Arrion also extended an invitation to the governor to address a monthly meeting comprising the 21 European Ambassadors in Nigeria and other diplomats so as to further discuss about Bayelsa and the future plans for the state by the government.
In his response, Governor Seriake Dickson thanked the EU Ambassador for finding time to visit the state and for going round to see some projects of his government also extended his hand of partnership to attract more investment in Bayelsa State.
Dickson decried the negative narrative about Bayelsa, saying every society has security challenge but there has been a shift because of his government’s effort in that area and appeal to the diplomat to work on travel advisories to attract more investors to the state.
He said, “Bayelsa State is peaceful and secured. We are doing our utmost best in the area of security. Just because there are some incidents, does not mean the entire location is a no go area. People create a false alarm and that impedes our capacity to address issues of the economy.
“If you scare investors from coming, we will not be able to create jobs that will employ these young people who are out there creating some of these concerns. So the solution Ambassador is not to scare people away but to get them involved. So as you return to your base, please help us tell the Bayelsa story that the narrative out there is not correct and unfair.”