Driven by the likelihood that in the next 20 to 30 years we may experience dry oil wells all across the Niger Delta, which portends very dire consequences for all of us as a nation, particularly to those of us in the oil bearing states, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State only recently took the bull by the horns to begin the process of planning for a future without oil by setting up the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC).
In the wisdom of Governor Dickson, with the advances in science and technology in the majoroil consumer economies, it is imperative that we take the issue of diversification of our economy seriously. So BDIC was set up to drive investments, create skills and develop a robust economicbase that can withstand the shock that will come the day after oil, which is why his administration is serious about investing in agriculture and tourism, among others, as alternativesto oil and gas.
The BDIC initiative is an integral component of the new Bayelsa that Governor Dickson often talks about. This new Bayelsa, many will readily admit, is fast becoming a reality. Virtually every facet of governance bears eloquent testimony to the emergence of this paradigm with distinct focus. It is all about the future. Intrinsic here, however, is that the critical pillars and catalyst that will enable us arrive fully at the new Bayelsa of our dream lies in our economic prosperity. And the strategic vehicle designed to convey us to that destination of economic prosperity is the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC).
Speaking at the Inaugural Board Retreat of BDIC held at the weekend in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson pointed out that the new Bayelsa that we all crave, the new Bayelsa that we actually deserve, can only be founded on prosperity and security. “Government is building roads and bridges, schools and so on, but in vain do we do all of this, if these activities do not translate to economic prosperity and opportunities for our people”, he declared.
As the visioner and brain behind the BDIC, Governor Dickson was very clear about his expectations of the role of the body when he said, “We will like the BDIC to turn Bayelsa to the new Dubai of Africa and we can do it because we are a resilient and resourceful people.”
Even more profound, Governor Dickson did not mince words when he said that the restoration government under his watch is a believer in free enterprise. He believes that the private sector is best suited to promoting enterprise, creating wealth, sustaining development and government should therefore have very little business in running businesses. Hence, he believes from the work of BDIC that the people of the state will experience sustainable growth and development.
Giving insights to his conviction in setting up the BDIC, Governor Dickson had this to say: ”the actual job of creating wealth, developing skills, that has to be driven by a body of people put together in a way that can enable it to compete and do business is a private sector driven initiative. That is why we have come up with this body in this state. We have instances of the Odua Group, Ibile Holdings by the Lagos State Government, the NNDC of old and other similar bodies in this country. Outside the country, you have sovereign entities like the IDC of South Africa, the one in Rwanda and so many others; those models exist and that is where we want to take our state to.”
In what may appear as setting a clear agenda for the BDIC, Governor Dickson said, going forward, all capital investments that have a business element will be undertaken by the BDIC. For example, it will be the duty of the BDIC to see how we can attract funding to projects that can add value to us, which is also an investment in nature.
Elucidating on the economic and financial requirements of needed infrastructure and benefits in the new thinking, the governor said, for example, if we want to complete the Tower Hotel in the state capital, the BDIC is in a better position to go to the market and talk to people and see how we can also attract expertise and blend the two to ensure that the project is completed on terms that are acceptable and fair.
Citing another example, the Contriman Governor noted the importance of constructing such strategic roads like the one linking Brass which, he said, is long overdue. Already three companies have been assigned to do the estimate and the least cost is N90 billion; that is from Nembe to Brass. He hinted that there is no way we can be taken seriously unless our state has that road to link the area where we have the Brass LNG. And getting the LNG started; expanding its opportunities for our people is another ball game. Again, these are areas where the BDIC will be best suited to handling the inter-related issues. With respect to the road to Agge, where we intend to have a deep sea port, there is already an application for a free trade zone in that area.
Stressing the importance of the task at hand for the body, Governor Dickson said all these arehuge investments which the BDIC can drive more actively to achieve intended objectives; adding that if we think carefully and well enough on such huge capital investments, they could also have some kind of economic and investment element to it. If other states are doing it, we too can think along that line.
“The point I am making is that, going forward, it is our intention to allow the BDIC drive capital investments that are of a commercial nature in whichever sector,” he stated.
Governor Dickson took time to clarify the status of the BDIC with respect to its function viz-a-viz the role of government: ”Let me state for the records that the BDIC is not intended to take the place of the ministries in this state. The BDIC is not a body we have set up that is to be higher than the government of this state. The BDIC’s role is not policy formulation because that function will continue to reside in the state government and its formal organs. But it will be the duty of the BDIC to drive those activities that are investment related. So the BDIC, if you like, is an investment organ. The BDIC is an instrument for driving, attracting investments and alsodirectly investing.”
It is instructive to note that BDIC is a creation of our laws, wholly and fully set up as a distinct corporate entity devoid of the control and undue influence of government. It has a duly constituted board and management made up of some of the finest professionals in the country, some of whom have worked at the topmost level of management in very reputable blue chips companies in Nigeria and abroad.
What is working for the BDIC is the fact that it is coming into the market as a big player. It currently enjoys the capital injection of N10 billion from the Government of Bayelsa State. This is to enable the BDIC take off in earnest. According to Governor Dickson, the BDIC is not intended to be a paper tiger. Perhaps to underscore the sheer worth of this corporate entity, Governor Dickson has authorized the transfer of key assets owned by most of the other agencies and subsidiaries of government to the BDIC.
Also, it is interesting to note that some of the recent acquisitions that government has made since coming into power, for example, the acquisition of 53 percent stake in Linkage Assurance and other similar acquisitions have been put under the control of the BDIC and it is the responsibility of this corporate body to see how all these companies will be put to maximum advantage.
Hence, the BDIC is expected to leverage on existing assets that the state has in addition to the new acquisitions that will be made as part of its mandate to chart a new economic future for Bayelsa State that will guarantee its economic prosperity and security going forward.
The BDIC has already opened offices in South Africa, one in Johannesburg and the international head office in London. So come May 5th 2013, Governor Dickson is expected to lead a high powered delegation from Nigeria and having graciously gotten President Goodluck Jonathan to accept to perform the official commissioning of the BDIC office in South Africa along with President Jacob Zuma. The opening of this office is to encourage BDIC to look at opportunities in the major markets, major economies with a view to establishing a formidable base for the state.
Governor Dickson’s dream about the BDIC is to chart a robust economic future for the state as well as use it as vehicle to re-create a road map that will birth the new Bayelsa of our dream. The realization of this dream is not anchored on oil and gas but through massive investment in agriculture and tourism, among other lucrative investments. This is what he had to say: “We are very serious about promoting tourism and part of what I suggested to the Director General of the Tourism Development Agency is that by the time we are set and we have appropriate partners in that insurance area, we should be able to take a policy for every tourist that is visiting Bayelsa State. And when we prepare that and they know that we are already in their London and South African offices, they will have confidence in us.”
So the BDIC’s vision is to be an enabler for transforming Bayelsa State into one of the top economies not just in our country but in Africa. Our mission is to protect, stimulate and grow the wealth of all Bayelsans through responsive, innovative and sustainable investments while acting as a catalyst for socio-economic development of our state.
Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa Governor, sent this piece from Yenagoa.
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has advocated that development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises be made top priority to jump-start the economy of the country.
Governor Dickson stated this when a representative of the Director-General of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Mr. Olawale Fasanya visited him at Government House, Yenagoa.
The Governor pointed out that the promotion of small businesses should not only be encouraged in Bayelsa but the country as whole to serve as a catalyst to stimulate the country’s economy, which is currently a consumer one.
In his words: “I want to enjoin all of us to address the issue of promoting SMEs because that is the fastest way to fast track the growth of the economy. Here in this state, I want to assure you that the development of SMEs is a critical cornerstone of our restoration government because that is why we say we are broadening the base of our economy. We want people to come and do business here and we also have a duty to stimulate enterprise, bridge their finance needs and skill deficiencies.
Hon. Dickson noted that the major thrust of his administration’s policies and programmes was geared towards improving small and medium scale enterprises to create wealth, employment and enhance skills as well as reduce the dependence on foreign products.
“Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are the way to go particularly in an economy such as ours that is over-dependence on products that come from outside our shores. So we are very passionate about this sector and I want to this sector blossom in Bayelsa so that we can create wealth, employment and generate skills. Going forward, this is one area that is going to form a major plank of our social investment policy.
He however attributed the delay in the disbursement of funds already made available for the sector to some logistic problems which are being streamlined to enable Bayelsans participate actively and become stakeholders in the local economy.
Governor Dickson who expressed government’s willingness to explore the full range of the opportunities that SMEDAN has to offer, thanked the agency for taking special interest in the state to expand its economic base.
Earlier in his remarks, representative of the Director General of SMEDAN, Mr. Olawale Fasanya said a recent survey conducted indicated that over 400 people are involved in SMEs in Bayelsa State.
To this end, he said the agency has been mandated to collaborate with the state on ways SMEDAN could promote small businesses.
Mr. Fasanya also explained that the National Enterprise Development Programme under SMEDAN is expected to be launched soon by the President and Bayelsa has been penciled down as one of the states where the programme would start.
According to him, the programme involves getting the state to nominate what he called, Business Development Service Volunteers who will be trained to mentor the SMEs that have been identified in the state.
Mr. Fasanya said SMEDAN has been involved in training about 200 women in the state in the past, under the Rural Women Development Programme.
GOV DICKSON DONATES N250M TO SME TRUST FUND, URGES MULTI-NATIONALS TO CONTRIBUTE TO FUND
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson has made an initial donation of N250 million to the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Trust Fund in the state.
Governor Dickson made the donation at the Small and Medium scale Enterprises Summit, MSME Opportunity Fair and Entrepreneurial Capacity Building Workshop with the theme, “Re-Orientation; A Necessary Key To Wealth Creation and Restoration Through SMEs”, in Yenagoa, the State capital.
The Governor urged all, especially the multinational oil companies operating in the state to donate generously to the trust fund; stressing that working together they could enthrone enduring peace and stability in the state for businesses to thrive.
He also enjoined businessmen and women to adopt the young entrepreneurs in the state’s mentorship programme, describing SMEs as a catalyst for self-reliance and industrial development.
While highlighting the challenges bedeviling the sector in the state, Hon. Dickson decried the situation where Bayelsa has been turned into what he referred to as “a dumping ground” as 90 percent of what the people consume is produced outside the state.
To tackle the problem militating against SMEs, the Governor advocated that empowerment programmes should be targeted at more women than men as they hold the key to fighting poverty.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr. Ayakeme Massah, stressed the importance of small businesses in the creation of wealth and jobs to grow the economy of the state.
The Senior Special Assistant on SMEs, Mr. Ebiekare Eradiri presented a summary of the report of the state’s SME Mentoring Scheme and noted that a N10 billion target is expected in the SMEs Development Trust Fund.
Representative of the Director General of SMEDAN, Mr. Olawale Fasanya, said the agency was in the state to address the problems associated with SMEs.
In their separate speeches, the South African Counsellor for Political and Economic Affairs, Thandi Nkowati and Guest Speaker living in the United Kingdom, Chief Bimbo Afolayan, said SMEs play a vital role in economies especially developing ones as they contribute 57 percent to Gross Domestic Product.
They identified inability to access funds and skills as challenges in the sector and advocated partnership with the Small and Medium scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, (SMEDAN)
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has identified the absence of non-functional prison services as one of the factors militating against the quick dispensation of justice in the Country.
In keeping with the tradition of the present administration’s policy on transparency and accountability, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has declared a total of N28.972bn as balance of funds available for the state as at the end of March, 2013.
Addressing the press on the financial position of the state for the months of February and March, this year at the Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson also gave N19.7bn as total balance standing to the credit of the state for the month of February.
In a breakdown of the figures for February, the Governor declared N19.7 as Gross Inflow comprising Statutory Allocation of N2.4bn, Derivation amounted to N10.04bn, while Value Added Tax came racked in N648 million, Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P came up to N1.1bn among other items.
On the Outflows, Governor Dickson explained that a total FAAC deduction of N2.38bn consisting of Bond deduction of N1.241bn, Foreign Loan obligation of N11million, Refund of overpayment to the Federal Government on the Excess Crude Account in three tranches of N509.8 million, N187million and N392.8 million was made, leaving a Net Inflow of N17.270bn.
According to the Governor, salaries of Civil Servants gulped N3.817bn, that of political appointees stood at N335 million with monthly overhead payment of N1.1bn while statutory approvals stood at N230 million, gratuity payment of N250 million as well as transfers to the State Compulsory Savings Account of N250 million.
He said the sum of N100 million was remitted to the State owned Niger Delta University for the payment of salary arrears owed its workers, pointing out that actual recurrent expenditure gulped N2.5bn while that of Capital was put at N10bn.
For the month of March, Governor Dickson reported a Gross Inflow of N24.bn made up of Statutory Allocation of N2.3bn, Derivation of N9.5bn, VAT amounting to N658 million, SURE-P stood at N1.068bn while augmentations was put at N10.3bn, noting that there was no disbursement from the Excess Crude Account.
Governor Dickson also stated that N2.38bn was deducted at source by FAAC, giving the breakdown of the figure to include salary obligation for civil Servants as N3.8bn, political appointees N336 million, overheads of N1.1, IGR of N80 million, land acquisition N250 million.
The Governor who used the opportunity to commend the state workforce for their understanding and cooperation on the present tax regime, said revenue accruing to the state coffers has increased to N300 million on a monthly basis.
He also added that the overall monthly IGR came up to N1bn assuring that government would make judicious use of the resources to develop physical infrastructure, create wealth and jobs for the people to get value for their money.
According to him, the Movie Trust Fund which will be used for the
development of budding talents in the State, will be managed by persons within and outside the State.