The future development of Bayelsa State lies in industrialisation that is compatible with both the physical terrain and the natural resource base of the state. Extensive floodplain and coastal com- mercial swamp rice cultivation would utilise cheap rural labour which need not necessarily come from Bayelsa State alone.
Aquaculture should be pro- moted through extension services that can be pro- vided by an appropriate research institute, to enable the production of commercial seafoods. The available cheap energy supply in the form of natu- ral gas should be harnessed for heavy industries like metal smelting, petrochemical and fertiliser pro- duction and oil refining, all aimed at the export mar- ket.
The humid tropical environment of Bayelsa State, with strong atmosphere and surface water circulation, would minimise industrial pollution. Job creation through industrialisation is the surest path to the sustainable economic develop- ment and modernisation of Bayelsa State. The incentives offered to investors will attract develop- ment, urbanisation and the expansion of the required, physical and social infrastructure.
Social development in Bayelsa, however, should aim at the grassroots by providing basic health facilities; and opening opportunities through the universal basic education programme, for the betterment of the rural poor through nomadic, formal and non-for- mal educational programmes. Transportation in Bayelsa State is skeletal, risky and unreliable, given the largely riverine and remote physical setting. Government intervention is seriously and urgently needed in programmes akin to the Federal Urban Mass Transit Scheme.
This will enable inland waterway transporters and rivercraft operators to purchase vessels that will link all the communities in the State. Among the key road arteries most critically needed in Bayelsa State is the Mbiama-Yenagoa- Nembe-Brass highway, which cuts across the state from the inland parts of the coast.
Proposed about two decades ago, this road has stopped only at Yenagoa, the state capital. To promote tourism, there is a need to extend this road to Brass on the Atlantic coast. Bayelsa State should generate electricity and supply to some other states of the country; in this regard, gas-fired turbines should be installed to har- ness the natural gas from the giant oil-fields in the state. Another project that has been in the pipeline for Bayelsa State, and was recently revisited is the Oloribiri Petroleum Museum and Research Institute: Now to be established as a national mil- lennium site, this institution will be sponsored by the Federal Government to commemorate Oloribri as the first oil field in Nigeria.