Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has described a call by a former secretary of state for the International Development in the United Kingdom (UK), Ms Priti Patel, to potential investors to be wary of investing in Nigeria as “a wicked proposition lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts”.
In a response contained in a statement signed by his Senior Special Adviser, Mr. Garba Shehu, President Buhari said her premonitions are unfounded.
“Her claim to the effect that despite the President’s public anti-corruption platform, Nigeria has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office, trumpeting a so-called Transparency International report is a false fabrication that cannot be supported by the facts on the ground.
“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was only two billion naira (N2bn).
“This account has succeeded in netting over four hundred billion naira (N400bn) today, translating to 1,360 per cent increase. This cannot amount to nothing in terms of progress.
“When it comes to policy decisions, this government has put in place instruments that have extraordinarily and unprecedentedly reduced corruption and corrupt practices.
“For example, the Treasury Single Account, TSA has led to greater visibility and control of government funds by way of consolidating government resources in an account as against the past where such accounts are scattered.
“The Bank Verification Number, BVN scheme has equally helped the government to prevent money laundering, financing terrorism and illicit cash transfers. This administration has introduced the IPPS, which implementation has led to an extraordinary reduction of ghost workers, saving the treasury billions of naira every month. The Whistle Blower mechanism put in place has yielded enormously to the treasury and reduced corruption.
“In addition to several and urgent legislations targeted at the reduction of corruption, the administration has equally signed a number of highly rewarding Mutual Legal Assistance with a number of countries that have translated to tremendous recoveries,” the statement said.
The government also said the issue raised about alleged lack of security of investment is equally false and untenable.
“Nigerian has recognised the right of the investor, both local and foreign, as enshrined in our constitution which states clearly that no investment can be taken from its owners without recourse to the law. Given the constitution, you don’t even need international protection for assets held in this country,” Buhari noted.
He said apart from the constitution, there are several laws protecting investments.
According to him, “Beyond this, this administration has moved forward by recognizing arbitration processes. The judiciary in the country has a Practice Code to give legitimacy to awards and arbitration clauses in agreements.
“Cumulatively, we have established a proper climate of investment on account of which, the nation has gained 24 points of excellence in the global ease of doing business index.
“As for the specific case of the agreement in 2010, between the NNPC and the P&ID for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, which appears to be her main issue, a project that fell through after a past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.
“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute.
“What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past.
“Before the coming of the Buhari administration, there existed in the country a racket encompassing elements in the three arms of government, the executive, legislature and the judiciary through the activities of which artificial, engineered and factored breaches of contract are made, judgments are obtained, appeals are delayed and the penalty imposed is paid and shared.”
The president assured the citizenry that in the fullness of time, more will be said by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.