The Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, has stated that Nigeria is the first African country to host the African underwater cultural heritage conference organized by UNESCO, asserted that the conference was unique because Nigeria was the first African country to ratify the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in 2001, a practical demonstration that Nigeria was still maintaining her leading role in the African continent.

Governor Dickson made this remark in his address at the Conference Hall, Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, venue of the African Regional Underwater Cultural Heritage Conference, on Tuesday, 12th November, 2013.

Represented by the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Bayelsa state, Dr. Felix Tuodolo, the Governor used the opportunity to express his gratitude to UNESCO, the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, for approving the establishment of Underwater Cultural Research and Imaging Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, in Bayelsa state.

He also commended the wisdom in choosing the state to hosting the first African Underwater Cultural Heritage Conference, adding that Africans must begin to acknowledge the value of public education in contributing to the awareness, appreciation and protection of underwater cultural heritage and its attendant recreational benefits and job creation opportunities.

According to him, the Government of Bayelsa State will justify the confidence reposed in the state by UNESCO and the Federal Government in making judicious and optimal use of the Research Centre for the benefit of not only Bayelsans and Nigerians, but also for the whole of Africans.

It will be recalled that Nigeria had trained, through UNESCO, four underwater specialists and also represents Africa in the prestigious UNESCO Scientific and Technical Advisory Body, which is a highly commendable achievement, and the services of youths to be trained in the Underwater Cultural Research and Imaging Centre in Yenagoa (when established) will be utilized by Nigerian Navy, Niger Delta areas, oil exploration companies, tourism industries, fishing and maritime industries among others, a development that will no doubt put Nigeria in a pivotal position in underwater heritage preservation practice globally, but generate employment, create wealth and earn the country immense respect among the comity of nations.

Egiobu Rex-Ogbuku
Corporate Affairs
NICO South-South Zone