• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo


Icons of Hope look beyond 2015, invest in the future


Politics is a very noisy enterprise; the actors are always shouting at the top of their voices, pushing and shoving to attract the attention of the public. In order to remain in the limelight, the politician has to create a larger-than-life image of the crisis being nurtured. For example, the public must be made to understand that the rift between the President of the Federal Republic and the Rivers State Governor is capable of bringing the nation to her knees. The protagonists of APC want the public to believe that they have already won the elections and are about to share political offices. As if these tense moments are not enough to scare life out of the patriot, the terrorists have now developed a roster for their destabilising acts – it’s now the TURN of the group from Nasarawa State.

Investment experts would tell you without mincing words that a stable polity is necessary for the attraction of investments, foreign or local. Unfortunately, the Nigerian polity today is very far from stable because of the activities of politicians and terrorists. It’s a double tragedy that these two sectors keep dominating the headlines and our consciousness. It is against this background that the investment announcements from the Dangote Group and the Zinox Group sound like sweet lyrics with far-reaching implications.

It was cheery to hear that the Dangote Group is set to invest over $4bn to build a new refinery in Nigeria. Again, Aliko Dangote has shown that his interest in refining petroleum in Nigeria runs deep. The gentleman has shown that his failed attempt to buy into the Port Harcourt refinery in the twilight days of President Obasanjo in office was not opportunistic but an initiative borne out of his conviction that he has the capacity to make a difference in the petroleum sector in the interest of Nigeria. He has blazed a trail after the numbness that seemed to follow the MOU, worth over $1.5 trillion, that the Federal Government signed with some companies to build refineries in Nigeria. His action underscores the fact that only Nigerians can make Nigeria work.

Another sweet news was the revelation that the Zinox Group is building a world-class ICT shopping mall to be commissioned in 2016. The ICT Mall, located in Abuja, is envisaged to be Africa’s technology landmark because it would house thousands of booths and shops performing diverse computing and telecommunications functions. Coming from an organisation committed to innovation and integrity, the mall would be a centre for genuine ICT products from wholesalers and retailers to satisfy both corporate and individual customers.

In addition, the Zinox ICT shopping mall is designed to meet international mall standards with the provision of parking lots, gyms, bars, restaurants, halls and art centres. The intention is to make the mall a repository of local culture and technology that would catalyse its growth into a tourist attraction. When fully in operation, the mall would be a meeting point for European, Asian, American and African technologies bringing about the much talked about transfer of technology. This robust investment decision from Leo Stan Ekeh, IT Personality of the Year 2011, chairman of Zinox, who continues to invest in Nigeria in spite of the scary security situation and in defiance of peer group pressures to invest abroad, is an expression of faith in Nigeria.

Aliko Dangote and Leo Stan Ekeh represent the new entrepreneurial class that was empowered by President Obasanjo to build world-class commercial institutions that can compete with the best in the world while building sustainable capacities among Nigerians. It is obvious that these gentlemen honoured as Icons of Hope in 2003 by President Obasanjo are looking at the bigger picture. They are saying to their counterparts in politics, “Let’s look beyond 2015.” Their example would be a source of hope to foreign investors who would be seeking for proof that Nigeria is safe for investments in spite of the loquacity of politicians and terrorists.

Recently, it was reported that young Nigerians in the Diaspora are naturalising in droves in the countries where they live because they do not see what they are coming back to do in Nigeria. They are scared of the security situation, disheartened by the institutionalisation of corruption, and their spirits are broken by the fact that people are more loyal to their ethnic groups than to the Nigerian nation. Therefore, they feel more secure making the USA, Europe, and Asia their permanent abode.

Herein lie the legacies of Aliko Dangote and Leo Stan Ekeh, because by investing in Nigeria beyond 2015 they have called all of us to order and attracted new viability to the Nigerian state. Stakeholders in the Nigerian economy including governments, political parties, the civil societies, the media, the corporate groups and individuals should borrow a leaf from these gentlemen and focus on the big picture. 


Lawal writes from Lagos.

Send reactions to:

[email protected]/en