Olusegun Aganga, Trade and Investment Minister
Two weeks ago, the federal government and some governors took their quest for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Canada, where a conference on how to attract investments took place between both countries. Chuks Okocha who attended the conference reports
It was perhaps one of the biggest events outside the shores of the country in recent times. The calibre of government officials that attended the Nigeria-Canadian Investment Conference lent credence to this fact. The event was an investment conference organised by the Nigeria High Commissioner to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe
The Nigerian delegation was led by the Vice President, Namadi Mohammed Sambo with several members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which included the Ministers of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed; Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqyyatu Rufai; Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shammsadeen Usman, and other.
State governors in attendance included the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi; Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio; Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda and Abia State governor, Theodore Orji. Others included Kaduna State governor, Ramalan Yero; Anambra State governor, Peter Obi; Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang; Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosu and Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo. Some states were represented either by the Secretaries to State Government or the Commissioner for Finance. The National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur with the National Treasurer, Bala Kaoje and the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh were also in attendance.
There is no doubt that delegations from the federal and state governments’ levels had one thing in common. It was to market the country: Nigeria and the states to the Canadian investors and attract foreign investment to the over 160 million Nigerians with its viable market.
Before the commencement of the conference, Vice President Sambo witnessed the signing of the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Nigeria and Canada.
At the opening ceremony, Vice President Sambo informed the Canadian investors that there is adequate security in Nigeria, despite flash points of terrorism, which he said would be thing of the past very soon. He described the Canadian economy as the best to do business with in the entire G 20 economies of the world and that the trade relations between the two countries have grown from $700 million in 2007 to more than $3 billion in 2012. According to Sambo, it was for this reason that both countries agreed to sign the Nigeria-Canada Trade Promotion. He further explained that the signing of the trade promotion deal is in line with the Bi- National Commission that was signed between Nigeria and Canada on April 23.
He informed the Canadian investors that the oil reserve in Nigeria currently stands at over 28.2 billion cubic barrels, while the gas reserve stands at 165 trillion cubic metres. He assured that there would quick transfer of profits, naturalisation of investors that seek to become citizens of Nigeria and that there would be no restriction of profits and as well as ensure visa grants at the point of entry.
Statistics of Development
In Toronto, there are over 50,000 Nigerians living there and it was for this reason that the Vice President had to create time to inform Nigerians of the level of development in the country. Addressing the Nigerian community in the city of Toronto, Sambo reeled out the statistics of growth and the records of achievements of the federal government, explaining that the Nigeria’s economy grew at 6.8 percent in 6.8 percent as at 2012, thus making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to the Vice President, the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration inherited less than 2,000 megawatt of electricity in 2011, but with the concerted efforts of government, electricity generation has grown to 5000 megawatt. He told Nigerians in Canada that five terminal electricity plants have been completed, three hydro powers plants completed and eleven power distribution companies (DISCO) privatised. With the completion of these power plants, the Vice President said that before the end of 2013, the country will peak up to 9,000 to 10,000 megawatt of electricity, explaining that the federal government is constructing 3300 kilometres of transmission lines. He disclosed that the federal government has investment worth over $3.7 billion expansion line that will ensure 20,000 megawatt of electricity by 2015.
This, 20000 megawatt is part of the electricity that would be coming from the Mambilla with the capacity to generated over 350 megawatt and Gurara Hydro plants.
Sambo told the prospective investors that the federal government has established a power bulk company to purchase some of the electricity generated. The vice president informed Nigerians in Canada that the administration has built over 2000 kilometers of road since assumption of office in 2011, explaining that the work for the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha in Anambra State would commence in two months’ time.
On job creation, he said over 3.5 million jobs are to be created, while the SURE-P will create over 5000 jobs from each state of the federation. To address graduate employment in the country, the Vice President said that the U –win programmes will give soft loans of between N1 to N10 million to graduates to start off small scale business.
Sambo informed the Nigerians in Canada during the town hall meeting that the security challenges occasioned by the Boko Haram religious sect is gradually being addressed as the federal government has set up a committee to address the issue
One common denominator of the campaign to attract foreign investment into Nigeria by the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the states’ governors that attended the conference was the assurances of adequate security in Nigeria. At least, if there is one message that the Canadians went home with from the economic conference, it was the assurance of adequate security in Nigeria, which they said would protect Canadian and other countries investments in Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme; “Nigeria, When Risks become Opportunities”, the national chairman of PDP outlined the challenges of energy, power and infrastructure deficit, slow legal reforms and enforcement of laws, among others as what used to be considered risk factors but which are now being addressed by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Governors Flaunts Economic Potentials
The governors were not left out as they spoke variously of the investment opportunities abound in their states, hammering on the provision of adequate security. Governors Amaechi, Akpabio, Yuguda and Amosun were spectacular in their presentations, designating their states as the ‘real investment havens’ in Nigeria with the presence of abundant oil, gas and solid minerals.
Amaechi and Akpabio specifically assured of security and provision of adequate enabling laws to the Canadian investors. According to the Rivers State governor, “Port Harcourt is the second largest economy and currently generating electricity of more than 715 megawatt and promising a 24/7 power by June”. He said that the state has over 900 hectares of land for specialised agriculture.
Akpabio who spoke of the ‘uncommon transformation’ in the state, said that there is a new deep sea port built to accommodate all type of sea going vessels, with good roads, ultra modern airport with aviation facilities, tourist facilities. His Bauchi State counterpart, Isa Yuguda who hammered on the provision of security, assured of adequate security for all investors. According to the state governor, “Bauchi state with a population of 6.5 million, fertile ground, and clement weather with irrigation for agriculture for more than 450,000 hectares of land remains investors’ haven with its tourist centre at the Yankari Game Reserve”
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed lured the Canadian investors with his ‘land swap system’. To him, land is very important to all investors, so as to avoid crisis with the indigenes. He told the Canadian investors, who are more interested in investments in the FCT. According to Senator Bala Mohammed, “Land swap system is a land for infrastructure framework for the development of primary infrastructure. And it is not just restricted to the federal capital territory. It is something we borrowed as global best practice in parts of most developed countries where land has value.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga called on the Canadian Government to emulate the United States government that set aside $13.5 billion grants for its investors that are willing to invest in Nigeria. The Minister who said that Nigeria remains the best country for investment, explained that in the nearest future Nigeria, China and India would become the best country for investment. He put the growth rate of the Nigerian economy at 7 percent in the last 14 years.
In his brief to the Canadian investors; the Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, said that Nigeria will have GDP of $900 billion and $4000 national minimum income by 2020, urging the Canadian investors “to ignore stories they hear about Nigeria, as they are not true of what is on the ground”.
As if adopting a new foreign economic policy for the country, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru said that as part of the federal government’s new policy drive of economic diplomacy that ambassadors would become the foot soldiers to drive the fight for Foreign Direct Investment. All Nigeria’s ambassadors, he said have been directed to commence drive to hold economic conferences to bring direct investors in to the country.