After what seemed like a slow start, President Muhammadu Buhari is finally thawing the economic landscape which had been under virtual freeze mode as a result of the last general elections, foreign investors who had been anxious to know the economic policy direction of the Buhari administration, have at least been assured by the President, that government will continue to allow the private sector take the lead in doing business in the country through privatisation.
Speaking in Washington, at a business forum organised by the United States Chamber of Commerce and The Corporate Council on Africa, Buhari said that his administration would continue with the Federal Government’s privatisation programme in various sectors of the economy.
According to him, the privatisation exercise will be expanded to include the nation’s aviation, telecommunication, energy, gas, solid minerals, health, and infrastructure development sectors.
“It is my intention to create the necessary environment for future investment in Nigeria. We are the most populous nation and largest market in Africa with vast human and natural resources and blessed with abundant young skilled workforce
“We are, therefore, proud candidates to become the destination of choice for United States investments in Africa. I will work assiduously to welcome new investors to our country.
“I would like to remain you all that we are continuing in major privatisation programme with sectors ranging from telecommunication energy, gas, solid minerals, aviation, health and infrastructural development, but with improved moral architecture.
“We will also simplify visa procedures based on the principle of reciprocity. May I, therefore, seize this opportunity to formally invite the American business community to take advantage of our liberate trade and investment climate to do profitable business in Nigeria.“
The President, therefore, called on the business communities in the United States and Nigeria to exploit the excellent political relations between the two countries to expand trade and investment as well as enter into joint venture projects in priority sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He identified the power generation, gas, agriculture value chain, mining, health, tourism, among others, as the sectors needing expansion.
He said: “While I recognise the pivotal role of government in facilitating and promoting economic growth, the private sector must assume an increasing role as part of the engine of growth.
“We will welcome genuine investors, who are willing to come to Nigeria for solid mineral exploitation.”
He pledged that his administration would carry out its key campaign promises including the creation of employment opportunities for millions of Nigerian youths.
“Generating employment was one of my key campaign promises. I will do my best to keep this promise.
“There is no other way to expand economic opportunities and create employment opportunities for millions of our youths than boosting domestic manufacturing, undertaking infrastructural development and industrialisation.
“Let me repeat, Nigeria will partner with genuine investors who are willing to join us to achieve our economic objective and at the same time realize handsome returns to recoup their investments
“There is more to Nigeria than oil. This is why I will continue to stress the need for increased United States investments in our non-oil sector.
“In this respect the present administration will be attentive to the needs of the business community and pursue policy that will strengthen the sectors that drive the growth.“
Buhari reassured that his administration would reduce waste in the management of the Nigerian economy through prudence, accountability, and good governance as well as respect for the Rule of Law, strict compliance with and observance of contractual agreements.
According to him, Nigeria has huge economic potential that required heavy funding that cannot be sourced locally.
“In this regard, I want to use this platform to encourage United States foreign investment and funding agencies such as Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the United States Export–Import Bank to increase access to capital and funding of such businesses on favourable terms.
“Nigerian potentials are already being exploited,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Corporate Council on Africa, Mr Paul Hinks, expressed the readiness of American investors to do business with the new government in Nigeria.
He, therefore, invited Buhari to chair the council’s summit scheduled to hold in Ethiopia in November.