The G-20 summit held in New Delhi, India, is over. And by every metric of assessment, it was a great outing for the Nigerian delegation led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Too early to say Nigeria has, once again, regained its pride of place among nations that matter? Maybe yes, maybe no. But time will tell.
But if morning tells how the day is going to pan out, then I have a hunch that Nigeria’s redemption may have begun. The invitation of Nigeria as a guest to the G20 summit is itself a testament to the country’s redemption being midwifed by the government of President Tinubu.
There’s also a ringing endorsement of the renewed hope agenda coming from American President Joe Biden, who said, “Nigeria’s invitation to the G20 Summit is a recognition of Nigeria’s important global role as Africa’s largest democracy and economy.
For the President, the summit represents perhaps his first significant international outing within the context of investment facilitation, resource mobilization and building economic partnerships across borders since his assumption of office on 29 May 2023.
As an active participant at the Summit representing the private sector, I say without equivocation that President Tinubu and his team attended all the lined-up events and the bilateral meetings on the sidelines with the serious-mindedness of an impassioned apprentice determined to learn his craft excellently in order to become a master in it.
In any case, one major indicator of the serious-mindedness of the Nigerian delegation at the summit was the leanness of the size, which was a radical departure from the usual practice in the past where every Tom, Dick and Harry who had no relationship with being at the summit, would find themselves there essentially doing nothing. The President and four ministers – Finance, Foreign Affairs Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, Industry Trade and Investment Dr Doris Anite, Communications Innovation and Digital Economy Dr Bosun Tijani -represented the Executive, while the governors of Ogun Dapo Abiodun and Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State represented the sub-national government on the delegation.
Read also: G20 and Nigeria’s search for respect
For those who did not pay attention to the details of the meeting, the essence of Nigeria’s participation in it, according to the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, was attracting global capital and foreign direct investment to Nigeria which underscored the administration’s commitment to job creation, inclusivity, economic diversification, and to announce to the world that Nigeria is an attractive destination for business with many opportunities across various sectors of the economy.
Mr Olawale Edun, who doubles as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, also reassured investors and global business dealers in one of the sideline panel meetings in conjunction with the Confederation of Indian Industry that the administration of President Tinubu was working hard to remove all the bottlenecks associated with macro-economic elements such as inflation and exchange rate to smoothen the ease of doing business in the country.
So far, so good. From the summit, about 14 billion US Dollars were pledges made to help reflate the Nigerian economy, which is practically comatose and in need of urgent rejuvenation. A further breakdown of the 14 billion US dollar sectoral pledge is as follows:
Petrochemicals- Indorama Petrochemical Limited pledged $8bn worth of investments to expand their petrochemical facilities in Rivers State creating more jobs for Nigerians.
Steel – Jindal Steel and Power Limited pledged an investment of $3bn in iron ore processing to aid Nigeria’s drive for industrialization.
Power – SkipperSeil Limited plans to invest $1.6bn in the power sector by building 2000MW power plants across the country in 4 years.
Security – The Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) got a $1bn investment pledge that will take its self-sufficiency to 40% by 2027.
Digital economy – Bharti Enterprises pledged $700m worth of investments to create jobs in telecom, space communications, real estate, insurance and hospitality.
Besides the pledges which would hopefully soon materialize as some of them already have existing investments in the country, President Tinubu also held bilateral talks, essentially to deepen economic ties, with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who has promised to visit Nigeria in October; the South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and President Biden of the United States, who praised the economic reform policies of the President and also committed himself to help deepen the already existing good relations between Nigeria and the USA.
By some striking coincidence, which ultimately will become a historical reference in the future, the G20 formally accepted the African Union as a member of the Exclusive club with President Tinubu, who leads a sub-regional bloc of the African continent – ECOWAS- in attendance.
As the curtain on the G20 summit drew to an end, the President and his entourage headed off to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on a whistle-stop tour rather than return home, and resolved the Visa ban, and Emirates/Etihad airline imbroglio, which, without a whiff of doubt, had been hindering aviation business relations between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates. And again, it was important to have by his corner, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN, who joined the President for the diplomatic cum bilateral engagement.
From the UAE, next on the agenda of the President will be, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA, for the first time since his assumption of office. He is already billed to be one of the early keynote speakers at the global assembly of heads of state on the 19th of September 2023, a seismic shift from the past, when Nigerian leaders’ speeches were either slated for the middle or at the tail end of the ‘August’ meeting. In addition, it is important to note that President Tinubu is scheduled to ring the closing bell of the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) on September 20, 2023.
This could be another signal that the world is now ready to listen to Africa’s most populous and largest economy.
As I opined at the beginning of this article, if morning gives a clue about the outlook of the day, then I can say with cautious optimism that Nigeria has a real chance this time around to turn the corner and get the country working again, firing on all cylinders. The President has shown commitment in his own words:
“Nigeria is open for business, and all we need, as a people, is a mindset change!” Hope is indeed renewed, and for our tomorrow, we must always give our today.