Several local and foreign investors gathered to discuss Nigeria.
Nigeria is winning the war against terrorism and her climate is conducive enough for investments, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Thursday.
The President stated this while giving an opening remark at the 14th meeting of the Honorary International Investor Council (HIIC) held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The HIIC was inaugurated in 2004 as a presidential advisory council to attract global financial players in to the Nigerian economy. Coordinated by British Baroness, Lynda Chalker, it is charged with the responsibilities of reviewing Nigeria’s investment environment, advise on areas to improve on, and attract businesses across the world to invest in Nigeria.
While explaining steps taken by the government on insecurity, the president said the declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on May 14 has led to significant improvements in the nation’s security. He said the declaration and the military’s efforts have witnessed unprecedented support by the locals.
Mr. Jonathan said this development had confirmed that the insurgency witnessed in the country has nothing to do with religion, but the activities of internationally backed terror groups determined to destabilise the nation.
He thanked members of the HIIC for their efforts at attracting business and investments into the country and encouraged them to do more; adding that though the nation’s economy is growing, he would like to see it improved to an appreciable level of double digit growth.
The president informed the council that he presented a mid-term report of performance of his administration on May 29 to correct “lots of misinformation’’ going on among Nigerians.
Reacts to school drop-outs
On the challenge of high statistics of school drops-out in the country, Mr. Jonathan said there is a need for an interface between the federal and states government to end the menace.
A report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation recently showed that Nigeria had the highest number (10.5 million) of out of school children in the world.
The president assured that the federal government would organise a forum of stakeholders from federal and states levels on the problem after resolving the political impasse within the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The president also admitted that oil theft in the country had reached an alarming stage and is affecting the country’s economy, and aiding insecurity.
Earlier, Ms. Chalker had said that government must take pro-active action to address the problem of oil theft which she said was “diminishing income into the treasury’’.
She also charged the government to double its drive on the development of infrastructure, roads, rails, power, which she said “are key to solving other problems’’.
Giving accounts of impacts of the activities of the HIIC on national development, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said there was significant increase in foreign direct investment in the economy.
He said the petrochemical sub-sector attracted over $20 billion investments with over $8 billion contribution by the Dangote group.
Mr. Aganga said the investments in petro-chemical have encouraged value addition into the oil and gas sector and also generated employment. He said the country will soon launch its auto-programme with a plan by Nissan Automobile to launch an assembly plant in the country.
The minister said that in the last six months, the telecommunication sector had attracted over $6.9 billion.
Mr. Aganga said there had been influx of foreign investments from Brazil, Canada and Netherland while Turkey had signed an agreement to build an industrial park in the country.
He said some of the investors have, however, been asking for increased incentives to invest in the rural areas, while some complain of skill-gaps.
The Vice President, Namadi Sambo, and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, were among various top government officials at the program which was also attended by some foreign investors.
Several Nigerian businessmen including Aliko Dangote, Emmanuel Ijewere, and Femi Otedola, were also at the event.