The European Union (EU) yesterday, expressed the desire to partner with the Bayelsa State Government to foster the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the state.
Mr Thomas Kieller, Political Adviser to the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, made this known during a courtesy call on Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa State at the Government House, Yenagoa.
He lauded the present administration’s developmental efforts in the state.
Kieller said the EU delegation was in Bayelsa on a fact-finding mission to identify key areas of collaboration with government, such as infrastructural development, human capacity building, and security, as well as to key into already existing programmes of the state government.
He commended the administration for its ongoing, critical infrastructural projects in parts of the state, and restated EU’s readiness to work closely with the state government towards improving the well-being of the people.
Kieller, who said the EU team would spend a couple of days in the state meeting with various groups, explained that their visit was also to prepare for the EU Ambassador’s planned visit to the state soon.
Responding, Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa gave a pass mark to the EU for the success witnessed in all the EU-supported projects in the state, especially the State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) programme.
According to the governor, his administration has taken steps to embark on more rural projects, using the SEEFOR model, through its Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.
Diri, who was represented by the Deputy Gov., Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said the state government was prepared to partner the EU.
He explained that the partnership was to achieve sustainable development in the areas of environmental protection, security and manpower development through engagement of youths.
The governor expressed concern that a greater percentage of the Liquefied Natural Gas, (LNG), processed and exported from the Bonny Export Terminal in Rivers, was actually gathered from gas fields in Bayelsa.
According to him, no revenue is being paid to Bayelsa as derivation for the gas production.
He urged the EU delegation, as part of their fact-finding mission, to carry out proper research on the environmental challenges facing Bayelsa as a result of oil and gas exploration activities in the state.
“We want to thank you for the various programmes you have intervened, especially the EU-support programmes such as SEEFOR. We thought that you would have continued with the programme.
“This is because of the enormous impact it made in our society. We can assure you that quite a number of our communities benefited from the programme.
“The state government has set up what we call the Ministry of Local Government and we are using that ministry to continue in that trajectory of the SEEFOR programme, seeing the success it has given to us.
“As a way of narrowing down the issues to areas where we want you to collaborate with us, we like to work closely with you in the areas of security, community development, environmental protection and manpower development,” he said.
Diri assured the EU delegation of his readiness to host the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Samuela Isopi, whenever she officially notified the state of her intended visit.