*President says FG working to ease free flow of capital
*Emerges first African leader to ring closing bell at NASDAQ
*Tinubu to Diaspora Nigerians: Bring your resources to Nigeria for investment
*Insists he crossed many hurdles before winning the presidential poll
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Kayode Tokede in Lagos
President Bola Tinubu on the sidelines of the ongoing 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States, wooed American business men to feel free and safe to invest in the Nigerian economy.
Speaking at the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable, the President, in a statement issued yesterday, by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, assured prospective investors that while he recognised that investment capital was cowardly in nature, he intentionally brought successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans respectively with their American counterparts.
This was just as Tinubu yesterday, charged Diaspora Nigerians in the United States of America (USA) to bring their resources back to the country for investment, insisting Nigeria remains home for business opportunities.
Speaking at the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable, the president listed measures he had already taken to boost confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria, which included forming the fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy environment.
According to him: “Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world. We have brilliant young people who both innovate and consume at a large scale.
“Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market totally unique, aside from demography.
“Nigerians build businesses and Nigerian businesses partner with other businesses to conduct larger business. There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria. You may be dissuaded out of a major opportunity that others will take up. We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly.”
Earlier, the world’s second largest stock exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ), also in New York, the world’s financial capital, invited Tinubu to ring the closing bell, making him the first African President to ever receive the honour.
The invitation was in honour of Tinubu’s determined global push to aggressively attract foreign direct investment into Nigeria.
The event was organised by United States Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) and Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).
The president, surrounded by Nigerian business leaders and officials of the Nigerian Exchange Group, used the opportunity presented by the historic moment to boldly advance his foreign investment push as he stood in front of the famous stock exchange.
He said: “It’s a great honour for me to be here. I am happy to bring Nigeria to your doorsteps and I am honoured that we are here today with a bubbling Nigerian stock market that will evolve in the West African sub-region.
“The greatest economy in Africa is Nigeria, there is an immense opportunity in Nigeria where you can invest your money without fear.”
Tinubu, noted that his government continues to address longstanding problems and impediments, such as his bold step to restore and unify the foreign exchange rate market to a stable and trustworthy level, allowing new investors to seamlessly bring their money into the country, free of worries about whether or not they can take their money out at any point in time.
“You’re free to take in your money and bring out your money. I count on you to invest in Nigeria,” the President added.
The president called on global investors to bring their capital into the country, saying his government was working on easing the free flow of capital.
While addressing investors, Tinubu noted that his administration was actively working on reducing bottlenecks to ease the free flow of capital for investors.
According to him, “It is not about if Nigeria is open for business, it is about who wants to do business with Nigeria.
“Our administration has moved the exchange rate regime to a managed float and removed fuel subsidy. I call on you to come and invest in Nigeria.”
At the same event, the Chairman of the NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, urged the president to lead the capital market reforms that would drive the actualisation of his mandate of double-digit economic growth for Nigeria.
“Under President Tinubu’s leadership, the country has made significant strides,’ the Chairman said.
“The removal of fuel subsidies and liberalisation of the foreign exchange market have boosted confidence in our capital market, with the Nigerian Exchange Limited’s All-Share Index surging by 29.04per cent since inauguration.
He noted that while this represents success, significant opportunities lie ahead and the capital market is in more need of reforms that can further unlock increased prosperity for the Nigerian economy. Citing the reforms, the chairman highlighted legislative adjustments that would make listing more attractive and urged the president to champion the reforms.
Kwairanga also called for the deepening of pension reforms and amendments to regulations governing free zone companies to facilitate their access to the capital market through listings.
He added that Tinubu should work towards enacting policies to enable dollar-denominated transactions to unlock further capital into the country.
The closing bell ceremony was part of events lined up in the NGX Roadshow, supported by Stanbic IBTC, CardinalStone Partners and Chapel Hill Denham.
Speaking at the event, the Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, assured the American captains of industry that under Tinubu’s leadership, the nation’s apex tax authority would be focusing its efforts not on taxing the seed, but only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry, through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.
His words: “The president is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared toward making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible. We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment.”
Responding on behalf of the US Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, told U.S. business leaders that he arrived in New York from Lagos, few hours ago, where he was on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.
According to him: “In Lagos, I saw first-hand some of the major reforms you implemented as the Governor of Lagos and the transformative effect it has had on Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as President are quickly enhancing confidence. American businesses are paying attention to that and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment. We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen”.
Also speaking, American Business Council President, Mr. Sops Ideriah, said the extensive turnout at the roundtable by American Business Chief Executives served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of President Tinubu’s administration with respect to ease of business, investment promotion, and his willingness to personally intervene where required to ease the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.
“Having all the stakeholders in the room, the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria.
“We are very positive about the potential of Nigeria and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Ideriah said.