Bayelsa state government has extended a hand of collaboration to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) for development and investment on the youths of the state.

The state government said that such collaboration will enable it to give more value to its people and improve their standard of living.

The state deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who made the call during a business meeting with the management of SPDC in Port Harcourt, said it is imperative for the state government to partner with an likeminded organisation such as Shell in order to reduce youth restiveness and drug abuse.

The Deputy Governor said that “The relationship between Bayelsa state and SPDC is cordial. Thank you for the investments in our state. Thank you for your contributions to support development efforts in the state. But how do we improve on this and bring dividends to our people? There is still so much more to unearth in our state.

“This meeting is to see how we can work together to create a suitable environment for SPDC to operate and generate value for all of us. We wish to collaborate and expand your portfolio in Bayelsa State and to see how we can partner to reduce youth restiveness and tackle the increased use of drugs by the youths in the state.”

According to Ewhrudjakpo, the state had recorded a huge success using sports to engage youths in the state in order to keep them away from crimes and social vices, especially drug abuse.

He pointed out that the youths in the state have shown that if the government can encourage them properly, they can deliver good value.

He noted that “For two years now, we have been experimenting with programmes to engage the youths towards positive actions, to reduce restiveness. The state government believes that sports is an avenue to dilute criminality and the prevalent use of drugs. Our efforts have started budding and fruits are coming in. Bayelsa came 3rd at the National Sports Festival in Edo State. We have the annual Bayelsa Wrestling Classic. The youths have shown that if we give them encouragement, they can deliver good value.”

Speaking during the meeting, the managing director and country chairman of the SPDC in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, pledged the oil firm’s readiness and willingness to collaborate with the state government in investment and development projects in the state.

Okunbor said, “We support the government’s effort to improve the environment in Bayelsa. Your statement speaks to focus. It means that there is a plan. As a company, we key into your vision because we know that if you are successful, it will help us and help our business environment,” Okunbor said.

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