The country’s current positive economic outlook may not be sustained unless government urgently takes steps to check terrorism in the North and oil theft in the Southern part of the country.
These problems and how to deal with them are among issues that will be on the top of the agenda of the June meeting of the Honorary International Investors Council (HIIC), a body that advises President Goodluck Jonathan on building positive image to attract international investors into the country.
Lynda Chalker, coordinator of the council, while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Jonathan ahead of the June meeting in Abuja, on Tuesday, observed that Nigeria’s economic potential was being threatened by terrorism and internal insecurity.
Chalker, who also noted that Nigeria will face stiffer competition from countries with similar economic potentials including oil producing nations, said HIIC meeting will focus on how to tackle the challenges facing the country.
She disclosed that HIIC had a very successful planning and update interactions with President Jonathan ahead of the June meeting, adding that further discussions will be needed on how to bring an end to terrorism, oil theft and other socio-economic challenges.
“We will be having further discussions and also seeking to bring about an end to oil theft in the Niger Delta which is critical for the country and much critical for the way in which the country is viewed abroad. We talked about the presentation of news, whether it was always fair, we talked about the relationship between the Federal Government and the 36 states. So it was a planning and update meeting and it was a very positive meeting.
“My company helps to run the international investors’ council and we should be having another meeting in the middle of the year in Abuja. So, it was partially to talk about some of the issues that will come up”, she said.
She commended the Federal Government’s milestone achievements especially in the areas of infrastructure development including the recent opening of the Lagos-Kano rail project.
Chalker described infrastructure as critical in attracting both local and foreign direct investments (FDI) as they help to boost the investors’ confidence in the economy.
“The private sector is very cautious and wants to see commitments. They want to see an end to terrorism in the North, end to the oil theft in the South and good governance in all the states. All these things have to be considered together, since the private sector wants to see returns on investments”.
“They are not going to put money in just for the love of Nigeria, it has to make economic returns and it is our responsibility to do all and give advice so that Nigeria can succeed in attracting investments”.
Chalker added that “we must never forget that Nigeria, even in the oil field, has many competitors. In fact, if you look at the last edition of The Economist, with very positive spine, on development in Africa, you realise how much competition this is for Nigeria. So we have to stay ahead of the game and it is the HIIC job to do that”.
Also speaking, Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Trade and Investment, commended the achievements of the HIIC as an advisory body to President Jonathan which, he said, has contributed to Nigeria’s current positive international image and investors’ destination.
Aganga, who harped on Nigeria’s positive rating by KPMG, said the country is now one of the four nations among the preferred investors’ destinations including Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey.
TONY AILEMEN, Abuja