*To Train 2,500, Employ 4,000
Bayelsa State’s focus on agric development got a boost on Wednesday with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a European fishing consortium that includes some Nigerian firms.
The deal with the consortium, African Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries (AAGGF), was facilitated by the Federal Government through the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang.
At the signing ceremony in Government House, Yenagoa, Governor Douye Diri disclosed that the pact would generate employment for no fewer than 4,000 youths and that 2,500 would be trained in fish farming and given European Union certification.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, on Thursday, quoted the governor as assuring the consortium of his administration’s support and expressed the hope that the MoU would translate into a workable contractual agreement.
He listed the benefits of the pact to include training of 2,500 youths by the Greece-based University of Patras and award of European Union standard certification.
Governor Diri also said the deal involved creation of 4,000 jobs in the first year as well as construction of a boat building yard with trawlers and fish processing plant of over 20,000-metric tonne capacity alongside a 300-hectare offshore aquaculture farm.
He called on the youths to take advantage of the opportunity rather than dissipating energy on profitless ventures.
Diri also called on other foreign investors to take a cue from African Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries by exploring the investment opportunities that abound in the state.
Describing Bayelsa as one of the most peaceful states in the country, the governor assured foreign and local investors of the needed support for their business in the state.
“I like to use this opportunity to call on our youths that while we preach prosperity it would not be money flying from heaven. Prosperity would be by what we have done and the youths should seize this opportunity because the benefits therefrom are every enormous to our state.
“2500 youths would be trained. Lecturers from the University of Patras in Greece would train youths from Bayelsa and graduates from the training would be awarded European Union-standard certification. This is an international certification and it enables you work anywhere in the world.
“Very importantly, what we have just witnessed is that this would lead to the creation of 4,000 jobs and from their roadmap that would be just in the first year. It means that we expect more jobs to be created and, of course, if all of these people are working, then our tax office would be very busy. It means also that we will derive more of our internally generated revenue.
“They are also going to have boat building yards, trawlers and fish processing plants of over 20,000-metric tonne capacity and 300-hectare offshore aquaculture farm. This is what this prosperity government has been preaching, asking our people to go into farming and aquaculture because we are as a state sitting on the fish belt of Nigeria.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, David Alagoa, said the consortium would create at least 4,000 jobs in its first year as well as establish three factories in the state.
He listed the factories to include a boat building yard, which is expected to build 250 boats for fishing and security, fish processing factory with 20,000-metric tonne capacity and 300 hectares offshore aquaculture farm.
He said the agreement with the AAGGF specified that 50 per cent of the catch would be sold in the country while the other 50 per cent would be for export.
In his remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Sen. Ita Enang, disclosed that the deal would earn foreign exchange, protect Nigeria’s currency as well as train and employ citizens in lucrative ventures as well as providing food for Nigerians.
He thanked Governor Diri and members of the state executive council for taking what he described as a quantum leap in the Nigeria beyond oil project of the Federal Government.