*Hails military, woos foreign investors
*Says govt taking bold steps to address revenue underperformance
*NNPC, US Corporation, Exim Bank seek financing for multi-billion dollar gas project
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed happiness that the present administration’s investments in improving security were yielding good dividends across the country.
The president said this just as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) said it has opened talks with the United States Finance Corporation and Exim Bank to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
Speaking further, Buhari gave kudos to the Nigerian military and other security agencies for making significant progress in the fight against insecurity and building the momentum in reducing challenges to its barest minimum.
Speaking at the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum held on the margins of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York, the president pledged that the federal government would do more to improve security, recognising that the sector was another critical element in the flow of investment, and overall economic and infrastructural development.
He explained: ”We will continue to give all necessary support to our security outfits to ensure that they are able to tackle the challenge headlong,”, adding that, ”the advantages and disadvantages of investing in Nigeria far outweigh the challenges.”
Buhari, who was represented at the opening session by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, also declared that in spite of the global crisis fueled by the Ukraine-Russian war, the COVID-19 pandemic and insurgency in some parts of the country, Nigeria was on course to taking her rightful place in the global economy.
While attributing the country’s success story to the implementation of reforms aimed at attracting foreign investments and sustained improvement in governance, he noted that the quarterly GDP growth in Q1 2022, was mostly driven by the non-oil sector, giving credence to the revenue source diversification agenda of government.
The president, however, acknowledged that more still needed to be done to improve private capital flows into Nigeria through foreign direct investments, financing of infrastructure, affirming that the administration was leveraging the Integrated National Financing Strategy to address this.
On growth driven by the non-oil sector, Buhari said: ”The agricultural sector, our most important, has remained resilient in spite of security concerns, low irrigation, limited inputs, and legacy infrastructure challenges, with strong food demand bolstering growth.
“Growth in manufacturing reflected stronger household and business consumption on account of the reopening of economic activities and improvement in supply chains.
”The present growth in our service sector is promising. Further privatisation, foreign investment, globalisation and competition will serve to stimulate growth and competition in the service sector and the economy as a whole.
”On the domestic front, the federal government is taking some bold, decisive and urgent action to address revenue underperformance, and improve our operations to make investment in Nigeria very attractive.
”Overall, the Nigerian economy is ripe for increased investment. But on the contrary, private capital flows into Nigeria, consisting mainly of foreign direct investment, have slowed, hindering the financing of much-needed infrastructure and natural resource access projects. Our administration is already working on innovative ways to restore these flows.”
The president told the international forum attended by the President of African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina and Florie Liser of the Corporate Council on Africa, among others, that a key strategy being adopted to improve infrastructure financing was the Integrated National Financing Strategy.
He explained that the strategy seeks to identify ways to expand the financing envelope of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria, enhance the sustainable development impact of financing by seeking to integrate and align public and private financial policies, regulatory frameworks, instruments, and business processes with sustainable development.
Buhari added that the private sector would play a significant role in the strategy.
The president also mentioned other efforts by his administration to improve the nation’s economic and development outlook, such as Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021 – 2025) and the Presidential Power Initiative.
On Nigeria’s National Development Plan, the president stated that it was formulated against the backdrop of several subsisting development challenges in the country and the need to tackle them within the framework of medium and long-term plans.
According to him: ”This all-encompassing plan, aims to generate 21 million full-time jobs and lift 35 million people out of poverty by 2025, thus setting the stage for achieving the government’s commitment of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
”To attain the objectives of the National Development Plan (2021 – 2025), we estimate that we would require an investment commitment of about N348 trillion. Government capital expenditure during the period will be N49.7 trillion (14.3 percent) while the balance of N298.3 trillion (85.7 percent) is expected from the Private Sector.
”Of the 14.3 percent government contribution, FGN capital expenditure will be N29.6 trillion (8.5 percent) while the Sub-National Governments’ capital expenditure is estimated to be about N20.1 trillion (5.8 percent).
”The successful implementation of this Plan will, therefore, be heavily dependent on strong partnerships between the private and public sector, both within and with Development Partners outside Nigeria.”
Commenting on the nation’s power sector, the president noted that his administration had recognised it as a major catalyst for Nigeria’s industrialisation, adding that in July, 2021, the 614-kilometre Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project was launched to enhance energy security.
”Our administration also provided the sovereign guarantee for this vital infrastructure project. When completed, this project will drive industrialisation across the country.
”Furthermore, the first phase of the Presidential Power Initiative will provide over 40 million people with more reliable electricity supply, create 11,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
”This will be from power system engineers to electricians and contractors, and this will in turn improve the standard of living while providing homes and businesses with constant, reliable, and affordable electricity supply. ”
He recalled that at the commencement of his administration in 2015, N200 billion was paid for stranded power to service existing liabilities.
His words: ”Contract terms in Power Purchase Agreements were changed from ‘Take or Pay’ to ‘Take and Pay.’ Similarly, the Distribution Companies were made to use banks for bill collections – prior to this, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) was getting only 50 per cent of proceeds. Now, TCN is financially viable and can invest in its own infrastructure.”
While wishing the forum successful deliberations, Buhari assured the participants that Nigeria was ready to consider the outcome of the deliberations and recommendations to elevate the Nigeria project to its rightful place of magnitude.
NNPC, US Corporation, Exim Bank Seek Financing for Multi-billion Gas Project
Meanwhile, the NNPC said it has opened talks with the United States Finance Corporation and Exim Bank to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York.
Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means that we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects and this is very critical, so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.
“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government and this is very helpful in the sense that Mr. President has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”
Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which is the country’s transition fuel.
Kyari however said Nigeria was looking for opportunities to leverage on the enormous gas resources in the country to provide the possibility that is required for the energy transition.
It would cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor would gulp billions of dollars.
“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through a number of countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and also an opportunity that are there that we are doing also in the domestic market, increasing more gasses in the domestic market,” he said.