The Bayelsa Government has requested the assistance of the People’s Republic of China in the development of its infrastructure, agriculture and education.
Mr Dan Alabra, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Douye Diri, disclosed this in a statement issued after the governor visited Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria in Abuja.
The governor said that China has recorded robust successes in economy, partnerships and innovations as well as in poverty eradication.
He said that in the last two decades China, the most populated country in the world, has witnessed rapid growth and surpassed the World Bank as the world’s largest lender of development finance.
Diri said this feat was achieved primarily through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure plan conceptualised in China in 2013.
He said the BRI has been implemented in more than 70 countries with the goal of partnering in the design and implementation of large infrastructure projects.’’
According to Diri, “the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, sometimes promised that his government was willing to partner with Nigeria to reduce poverty, Bayelsa is the right destination for such intervention.
“We believe Bayelsa offers a considerable window to the world, it will be a spectacular platform to showcase the BRI in the building of roads that traverse several water bodies.
“It will also provide access to an inexhaustible reserve of resources in the coasts of Bayelsa.
“Our state’s expansive coastline is ideal for fishing, tourism and wind energy. Our government has identified agriculture as the main sector within which it will achieve sustainable development and growth,’’ he said.
Diri said that they have already identified four areas to substantially invest in, which are fishing farming, rice, cassava and plantain cultivation.
He said with the requisite legal framework in place and available human resources, the state was ready to welcome investors and industry experts for the collaborative development of a centre for machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“The technological revolution that this would engender would be a force to improve and empower thousands of people across Nigeria and Africa in general.
“There are opportunities to establish new tech hubs across all the eight local government headquarters in the state.
“Our coastline is the longest in Nigeria of about 180km and has the widest access to the Atlantic Ocean, creating the potential for wind energy,” Diri said.
On the deep seaport project at Agge in Ekeremor Local Government Area, the governor said the state was seeking partners to develop a port that would act as a trans-shipment port.
Diri praised the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), saying he and the state were impressed with the company’s work on the Yenagoa-Oporoma and Gloryland Drive road projects in the state.
Responding, Jianchun said that China and Nigeria had a lot in common.
The envoy pointed out that 12 years ago China had more than 87 million people living below the poverty line but that by February this year, they had all crossed the line.
While Jianchun was presenting an economic strategy document to Diri, he said that if China, with its large population, could overcome poverty, Nigeria could also do the same if the right policies were adopted.
“I believe that we have to work together to grow. If we have to achieve our country’s national interest, we have to do something significant in our host country.
“I thank you for your expression of confidence in China and Chinese companies. You have made the right choice.
“We can look at the possibility of Chinese investors and companies partnering with Bayelsa to develop your gas resources and infrastructure.
“Bayelsa is an important state to Nigeria because of its natural resource endowments and its people. There are several areas of partnership we can explore,” the Chinese envoy said.