“We have some security challenges now, but let me assure you that the Nigerian Government is on top of it,” the president said.
By Talatu Usman
In an attempt to woo Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, President Goodluck Jonathan, in the midst of a group of foreign investors, claimed that his administration is tackling the dearth of infrastructure and the dire security challenges in the country.
Speaking at a dinner organised in his honour in New York, by the Corporate Council on Africa, and attended by the United States Assistant Secretary of State, Johnnie Carson, the president tried to douse the fears of investing in Nigeria.
He told the guests at the dinner that safety nets have been established to protect all foreign investors in Nigeria.
Such measures, he said, include the establishment and strengthening of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, and the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“We have some security challenges now, but let me assure you that the Nigerian Government is on top of it. We are dealing with the issue decisively; it will soon be a thing of the past,” the president said, in an attempt to gain the investors’ confidence.
“Opportunities abound for would-be investors with capital and technical know-how in key areas of Nigeria’s economy with a high rate of return on investment. I invite our friends in the United States to take advantage of existing incentives and invest more in Nigeria.
“I am confident that by the year 2015, Nigeria would have witnessed transformation in all sectors to the benefit of not only its citizens, but also those who have an interest in Nigeria,” Mr. Jonathan said.
Nigeria’s new focus
Attracting foreign direct investment is now the focal point of Nigeria’s foreign policy, the president said.
Mr. Jonathan said this decision is to accelerate domestic growth and create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians. He said his administration is wholly committed to promoting the development of a knowledge-economy that will enhance the security of lives and property, thereby accelerating growth, providing employment opportunities and reducing youth restiveness.
The President told the gathering of leading American businessmen and investors that attracting foreign investment to support the realization of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation is now the topmost priority of Nigeria’s diplomacy abroad.
“Let me restate here that Nigeria’s foreign policy is now anchored on the realisation of this Transformation Agenda through the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment.
“Under the new policy thrust, our Diplomatic Missions abroad have been directed to focus more on attracting investment to support the domestic programmes of government with a view to achieving not only our Vision 20: 2020, but to bequeathing an enduring legacy of economic prosperity,” he said.
In his welcome address, Mr. Carson pledged the Obama administration’s support for Nigeria’s efforts to attract greater foreign investment.
He said Nigeria is already a very important destination for American companies and the second highest recipient of American direct private sector investment in Africa. Mr. Carson said that he is very optimistic that Nigeria can become a great economic success over the next decade.
The Assistant Secretary of State announced that the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission which has been established as a primary platform for the promotion of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries will meet again in Nigeria next month.
President Jonathan’s other engagements in New York on Wednesday included meetings with President Sauli Ministo of Finland, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.
The President had earlier met with President Francois Hollande of France, the Emir of Qatar, and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. He also received representatives of the over 200 Nigerians who currently work for the United Nations and its agencies.
President Jonathan and Prime-Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, with whom he serves as Co-Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, also participated at an event to promote its work. Guests at the event included former American President, Bill Clinton