Bayelsa State Governor, Siereke Dickson
Historically, Nigeria’s crude oil exploration and production emanated from Oloibiri, a community in Bayelsa state, south-south Nigeria. The state is also the host and headquarters of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), an agency that supervises Local Content practices and development in the country.
Recently, Bayelsa state hosted the 8th Practical Nigerian Content (PNC) that was held at Yenegoa, capital of the state. Stakeholders, mainly oil majors and service companies attended the event with intent to project and develop Local Content drive in Nigeria.
Governor of Bayelsa state, Henry Sieriake Dickson, in his opening ceremony speech referred to the state as Jerusalem of Ijaw nation and centre of gravity of the Niger Delta around which the oil rich region revolves. He thanked Executive Secretary (ES) of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote and his team for returning PNC back to its origin and home. He said the state was concerned when few years ago it received invitation that the event took place in other states. Since the state is the headquarters of Local Content in Nigeria, issues pertinent to it should be addressed in the state.
At present, Local Content annual event has returned to Bayelsa state which it rightly belonged, Dickson added. He commended the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Resources (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, including other stakeholders for the support given to Wabote.
Dickson explained further why the event should be held in Bayelsa because “The story of oil and gas in our nation started from here (Oloibiri), whereas we refer to places like Houston as the oil and gas capital of the world, we tell everybody whether they like to hear or not, sometimes, there is what is called an inconvenient truth, the truth nevertheless still has to be told, this state, the glory of all lands, is the oil and gas capital of Nigeria and of Africa.” According to the governor, the state appreciates when major conferences and seminars in oil and gas sector are made to take place in Bayelsa. This is a recognition of the state historic contribution. Dickson was optimistic that better days are ahead for the sector while the state appreciates future outcome. He extolled the GMD of NNPC, Petroleum Ministry and all stakeholders for working with governors of oil producing states including elders, opinion leaders and security agencies. These collaboration and “Concerted efforts we have all made, we have a very stable and very promising operating climate and it is our hope that we continue to improve on it.”
The Bayelsa state governor was of the view that with existing stability in Niger Delta region, the government and oil operators will be able to meet projected targets. This will culminate to more revenues for development of local governments and states concerned. The idea of Local Content is enormous and the vision should not die. Speaking on behalf of the region, Dickson said, Niger Delta is grateful that federal government created the Board. In his words, “And we are further appreciative that it was brought here to the place where the story of oil and gas started and I thank the Executive Secretary and members of his Board because we are hosting them and we know that they are trying their best.”
The ‘Country man’ governor as he is fondly called by his admirers commented on NCDMB permanent site that is also in Bayelsa state. The aesthetic edifice will be the headquarters of NCDMB. He made it known that when the edifice is completed and put to use, “By the time we see more oil and gas deals being completed in the great state of Bayelsa, that will add to our local economy.” Dickson added that oil and gas deals should not be completed in other places other than where oil is found. Local Content means, “We have to be completely local, meaning that producing companies should fly in, stay here and have their offices and interface more directly and robustly with communities, state governments including the NCDMB.”
This gives opportunity for investors to invest in the state. The governor assured PNC participants that the state will soon complete its international airport to thrive economy activities. Bayelsa state government is working assiduously to provide infrastructures and services that will make things easy for operators. This will also prevent a “Situation where oil and gas actions and mega deals take place in faraway cities and states that do not even know the colour or smell of crude oil.” If such activities take place in the state, it gives support for it to have benefit accrue to it as well. Bayelsa is ready for investments that will thrive its economy.