President of Ijaw People’s Association(IPA) of Britain & Ireland, Rev. Francis Apanari, has hinted that a minimum of fifteen Ijaw professionals in the diaspora have indicated interest to partner the Bayelsa State Government to develop key sectors of the state’s economy.
He said the areas of interest include: education, tourism and hospitality, agriculture, computer and ICT services, health care, vocational and technical training, youth works, environmental work/training, housing and social works, among others.
Rev. Apanari disclosed this at the Yenagoa Boat Club, Oxbow Lake Yenagoa, on arrival from the United Kingdom(UK) where he was conferred with an honorary membership of the club.
The IPA president who has lived in the UK for sixty years, expressed satisfaction with the level of infrastructural development in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, adding that the Ijaws in the diaspora were willing to return home to make their contribution in the ongoing development process in the state.
He promised to assist in upgrading the facilities of the Yenagoa Boat Club to meet international standard in collaboration with likeminds from the Ijaw diaspora community, reiterating that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of developing the state.
He therefore called for more public-private sector partnerships and collaborative efforts from stakeholders to move the state forward.
While commending Governor Douye Diri for his foresight and visionary leadership, the IPA President particularly appreciated the governor for linking the rural areas to the state capital through construction of access roads, adding that members of the Ijaw People’s Association of Great Britain and Ireland, having expertise in different skill areas were ready to come home to assist the government by contributing their knowledge and skills.
Presenting the Yenagoa Boat Club’s membership form and a branded T-shirt to the visiting IPA president, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Douye Diri on Tourism, Hon. Piriye Kiyaramo said Bayelsa State has remained the most peaceful and safest destination for tourists and investors, informing that the prosperity administration under Senator Douye Diri has maintained zero tolerance for crime and criminality since assumption of office.
The SSA to the Governor on Tourism explained that the Yenagoa Boat Club has the governor of the state as the Commodore of the club, with the first military governor of old Rivers State and Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete-Spiff as Vice Commodore, while the State Deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo is the Rear Commodore.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Ijaws in Diaspora, Hon. Tunde Apanari expressed appreciation to the membership of the IPA for showing interest in the ongoing development process in the state, assuring that the prosperity administration under Senator Douye Diri was open to all useful suggestions and partnerships to fast track the development process to make Bayelsa a preferred destination for visitors and investors alike.
In his brief remark, President of the Renew Empire group of companies in Nigeria and Turkey, Engr. Gospel Obolo, who also is a patron of the Yenagoa Boat Club, said his company was ready to invest in the tourism and hospitality sector of the state’s economy, saying that the Oxbow Lake, being an ecological asset to Bayelsa State, could be turned into an international marine recreational resort with the right partnerships in place.
Mr. Gideon Efere, a United Kingdom based Bayelsan, also expressed his willingness to invest in the tourism and hospitality sector, informing that he was already making arrangements to bring in some jet skis (water bikes) to the Yenagoa Boat Club to promote marine recreational activities at the Oxbow Lake.
On his part, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Bayelsa State Council, Comrade Samuel Numonengi, who also doubles as the Public Relations Officer of the Boat Club, while giving his vote of thanks, thanked the President of the IPA for showing interest in the ongoing development process in the state, assuring that the media will continue to collaborate with both public and private sector stakeholders to develop the state to an enviable height.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Health Matters, Dr. Ayakeme Tonkiri, in his remark, said he had heard so much about the exploits of the IPA President, Rev. Francis Apanari, who left Okunbiri Community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state decades ago, saying that his community was ready to give a grand reception to IPA President.
Other dinitaries at the lake side event included the CEO of McLily Hotels Yenagoa and his amiable wife, Mr and Mrs. Gabriel Benamesia; Special Assistant to the governor on New Media, Tony Adams; Special Assistant to the governor on Special Duties, Henry Bazigha; Sagbama PDP Chairman, Hon. Oyafekumo Odoni; the Initiator of Lagos Ijaw Nation Day Festival, Ms Ronke Fapohunda; Membership Secretary of the Yenagoa Boat Club, Victor Christopher; Asst. Secretary of the Boat Club, Comrade Stanley Imgbi; a veteran broadcast journalist, Mr Munene Wilson and Jide Dominic.
Highpoint of the evening event was the donation of dozens of branded T-shirts to the club by the President of the Renew Empire group, Engr. Gospel Obolo.