Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State yesterday argued that complete dependence on proceeds from oil and gas by Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta, was no longer sustainable, given the new direction the world was moving.
Speaking during the third matriculation ceremony of the University of Africa, (UAT), Toru Orua, Sagbama Local Government Area, the governor maintained that the whole world was moving away from crude oil for more sustainable energy resources.
He noted that the United States of America (USA) which was once the biggest buyer of Nigeria’s oil has now through innovation jettisoned Nigeria’s oil, reason Nigeria went begging nations like India to patronise the country.
Speaking to the new intakes, Dickson said: “You are all products of the oil and gas age. But the oil ands gas age is fast fading away. Now, for the last couple of days, the President of the USA has said to hell with Arab oil. They have enough oil to live on. Some years ago, the USA was our biggest purchaser of crude oil. But they have stopped buying. They now have shale oil.
“Now we have to beg other nations to buy our oil. In the next few years, the oil and gas age that my generation grew up to know will fade away. I know that I am not sufficiently understood, but my duty is to take our people to where we ought to be , not where they want to be. That’s the duty of leadership,” the governor said.
He argued that it was through innovation and technology that the Niger Delta could be liberated, stressing that that was the single reason he invested heavily in education during his almost eight years as governor.
“A sustainable Niger Delta will be founded on a knowledge-driven economy. Our generation competed with human beings. We are now in a virtual world. Investing in education is not a mistake. But if they say we are wrong, we plead guilty,” Dickson added.
He maintained that education was capable of curbing criminality and poverty in the Niger Delta, noting that it remains the surest way to liberate the people from the shackles of ignorance and disease.
He noted that criminality, militancy and other vices were attributable to the inadequate investment made in the education sector over the years.
“My advice to the incoming government is to invest more in education. We don’t want our youths to be armed with AK 47, and other weapons of mass destruction.
“No one should take pride in arming youths, building militant camps and getting them involved in drug abuse and cultism. Rather we must continue to invest in education.
“In all our communities you see poverty, ignorance and disease and this is as a result of insufficient investment in education.
“Communities are in perpetual turmoil. You see a correlation between insufficient Investment in education and poverty, disease, ignorance and other societal problems.
“I have no doubt that the UAT has come to stay. I know that education is the right way to go for our state. The oil and gas phase is fast going away, particularly in the Niger Delta” he said.
The governor also disclosed that efforts were ongoing to hand over some secondary schools built by the state government to all the arms of the military service.
He argued that it was through such partnerships that the government and the military could jointly invest in the future of the people.
He also offered scholarship to students studying Mathematics and Agricultural Science in the university and congratulated the students on their successful matriculation.
In his address, Vice Chancellor, of the University, Prof Kingston Nyamapfene, said that the setting up the institution in Toru Orua by the Dickson’s administration had liberalised education and empowered local economies.
The Vice Chancellor noted that UAT is distinct in view of its focus on internationalisation in order to expose staff and students to a true universal educational experience.
He said: “already, you will have noticed that, we have among our academic staff, people who are clearly from other parts of the world.
“The next step will be to also bring in students from other parts of Africa and elsewhere to recreate the kind of milieu that made the older African universities so successful in the past,”.