Bayelsa State Government has formally handed over three fishermen who lost their way on the Gulf of Guinea to the Sao Tome and Principe Head of Mission in Nigeria.
Speaking in Government House, Yenagoa, during the formal handover on Thursday night, Governor Diri lauded the local fishermen in Okpoama community in Brass Local Government of the state, who rescued their fellow fishermen on the Atlantic Ocean.
He said they demonstrated the true spirit of an Ijaw man, who cares for his brothers and humanity in general.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying the action of the Bayelsa fishermen underscored the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the neighbouring country.
Governor Diri disclosed that once they were rescued, his administration through the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Igwele, made sure that they were provided the necessary health care.
He hailed the effort of the government of Sao Tome and Principe in showing concern for its citizens even though they were fishermen, saying it showed that they truly valued their citizens.
The Bayelsa governor also commended the role of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the rescue of the fishermen and again called for the agency’s presence in Bayelsa and other coastal states to take care of such situations.
His words: “I got the news of the rescue of these fishermen informally. I then tried to use a formal government system and the security agencies to confirm that we had two citizens of Sao Tome and Principe that were rescued by some Bayelsa fishermen at Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of the state while the third one was rescued by NIMASA personnel.
“So, I directed that the three of them be brought to Yenagoa so that they can undergo health checks and probably contact the Sao Tome and Principe Government.
“Fortunately, the Sao Tome and Principe Government’s Head of Missions at the embassy in Nigeria made contacts with our government and informed us that he was coming to Yenagoa to receive them.
“I am really very proud of our fishermen who exhibited their Ijawness because the Ijaw man is very hospitable and loves humanity.
“Let me also appreciate the Government of Sao Tome and Principe for going after their citizens who went missing on the Atlantic Ocean for over one week while trying to navigate their way on the sea and the Gulf of Guinea drifted them to the Nigerian boundary.”
Responding, the Sao Tome and Principe Head of Mission to Nigeria, Pires Dos Santos Aguiar, expressed appreciation to the Bayelsa State Government and Nigeria for their effort to rescue his countrymen.
He said the action of Bayelsa and Nigeria has strengthened the relationship between both countries.