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Thursday, 25 October 2012

WHERE ARE THE FOREIGN INVESTORS ?

                                                                                           
“ Truth is like pregnancy, you cannot hide it”
Sierra Leon Proverb.

During the eight years administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he traveled to more than one hundred countries under the guise of seeking for foreign investors. As he was traveling all over the world, his vice, Atiku Abubakar was doing the same thing. So also were commissioners, ministers, members of the State Houses of Assembly and members of the National Assembly. About #10 billion was estimated to have been expended on such trips as it takes much money to maintain a serving president and his entourage in a foreign land. At the end of that administration, how many foreign investors came into the country through such trips? I cannot see much foreign investments in the country apart from the few Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM ) companies that came in during the first tenure of the Obasanjo’s regime. Through out the second tenure of the Obasanjo’s administration, no foreign investors came into the country.
With the failure of such trips made during the Obasanjo’s administration, one would have thought that the administration of late Umaru Musa Yar Adua would desist from such frivolous travels, but it was not so. Not too long ago, it was revealed that the office of the Foreign Affairs Minister under Chief Ojo Madueke, the immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs spent a whopping #3.7 billion on foreign trips in the name of looking for foreign investors. What kind of investments will foreigners bring that a whole #3.7 billion should be spent on travels to invite them to the country? The fact that such amount of money was spent on trips to invite foreign investors is not a guarantee that they will come and invest in the country. The #3.7 billion spent on such frivolous trips, is not a small amount of money. The annual budget for some African countries is not up to #3.7 billion. It is amazing that one government official could spend such amount of money on travels just to invite foreign investors.

Suffice it to say that #3.7 billion is more than enough to build a modern industry that can provide employment for about one thousand workers. That was the amount of money frittered away on foreign trips in search for foreign investors. How many foreign investors did the ministry of Foreign Affairs bring into the country between 2008 and 2009 that it spent such amount of money?

As if the #3.7 billion spent by the office of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs is not painful enough, some members of the House of Representatives under the leadership of Hon. Dimeji Bankole also embarked on such trips where they wasted unspecified amount of money on other rounds of trips also in search for foreign investors. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, is not left out in this spending spree. For instance, the Speaker spent #5,812,947 on his trip to France between May 15 - 18, 2008. He traveled with two aides in that journey.
  
On another trip to Britain for a five day visit between March 14 – 18, 2008, he spent #7,984,200. On his entourage were three members of the House of Representatives and two aides. He also traveled to Argentina in March, 2008 with Mr. Hadi Sirika, a member of the House of Representatives and a security aide. In that journey, he spent #9,762,000. In 2008 alone, the Speaker spent a whooping #23,559,147 on foreign trips. This is how other members of the National Assembly and ministers are wasting tax payers’ money on foreign trips. The story is the same at the state level, commissioners and members of the State Houses of Assembly do the same thing.

On Monday 28, June, 2010, a delegation led by the PDP Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, traveled to Britain for Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary Summit. The delegation had 18 governors, 12 ministers and other top officials. The Nigeria Labour Congress described the summit as a “waste”, “national disgrace” and “jamboree”. But in a swift reaction, the PDP national Chairman said, “It is meant to woo international investors, especially in the area of power, oil and gas and infrastructure….” The summit in no wise must have gulped millions of naira considering the number of dignitaries that attended the summit. But how long will Nigerian leaders continue to  waste huge sums of money on trips in search for foreign investors?     

Why do Nigerian leaders think foreigners are the ones to develop their country for them? Is there any country that is developed by foreigners? Foreign investors will only come to make profits on their investments at the detriment of the citizenry. When has development becomes foreigners’ affairs? Which country has foreigners developed? Was it foreigners that developed Malaysia and Singapore? Malaysia that is the envy of the world today came to Nigeria in the early 1970s to collect palm oil seeds for planting. Today, Malaysia is a major exporter of palm oil while Nigeria that sold palm oil seeds to them cannot even provide enough palm oil for her citizens. What kind of a country is this? Was it foreigners that helped to build Malaysia? Which foreigners will leave their countries to come and build your country for you? Singapore that was a third world country like Nigeria has been transformed to an advanced country under the charismatic leadership of Lee Kuan Yew. How much money did Singaporean leaders spend on foreign trips in search for foreign investors? How many foreigners helped in building Singapore to the enviable position it is today?

In today’s technology driven world, the world is now a global village in which whatever happens in any part of the world is seen all over the world. Nigeria being a part of the global village, her leaders do not need to spend huge sums of money on foreign trips in search for foreign investors. Once Nigeria is conducive for investment, foreign investors will come in their millions to invest. With the aid of technology, investors know the countries that are conducive for investments right there in their homes and offices. So, they don’t need anyone to beg them to come and invest.

Let me ask, is Nigeria really conducive for investments? How many megawatts of electricity does Nigeria generate? A mean 2,500 megawatts for a country with a population of 150 million people! Egypt with a population of about 50 million people is generating a total of 50,000 megawatts of electricity. Do Egyptian leaders need to travel out to woo foreign investors before they go there? South Africa that has just abandoned apartheid system of government is generating 40,000 megawatts of electricity for a population of about 60 million people. Even with 40,000 megawatts of electricity at hand, they are already building a new power plant that will provide additional 20,000 megawatts. No wonder South Africa has many foreign investors! Is it the foreign investor that wants to go into cocoa or groundnuts processing that will build a power plant to power his industry before he starts operation? Is it the foreign investor that will tar the road leading to his factory before he can transport raw materials to his factory? Is it the foreign investor that will sink borehole before he gets water to use? Is it the foreign investor that will pay private body guards that will protect him and his property from wanton destructions and unprovoked killings that are taking place in some parts of the country? Can he protect himself from ravaging kidnappers and hostage takers?

How much profits will a foreign investor make that he will be subjected to multiple taxes? Council tax, State tax, Federal Government tax, land use tax, ”Omo onile” tax etc! What will attract foreign investors when Nigeria has the highest telephone tariff in the world? With incessant fuel crisis in the country, how many weeks will a foreign investor queue at the fuel station before he can buy fuel for his car? And how much will it cost him to fill the tank of his car? Ten thousand naira (N10,000) in the open market and fifteen thousand (N15,000) in the black market! How many litres of diesel will a foreign investor buy on a daily basis in order for him to be able to power his industry since there is no regular supply of electricity?  Nigeria is the sixth producer of crude oil in the world with four refineries that are decrepit. If they cannot be repaired, cannot new ones be built? How much does it cost to build a new refinery that Nigeria cannot afford?

 What will attract foreign investors to the country when the leaders are corrupt and dishonest? Corruption has eaten deep into the blood fiber of our leaders that it has become a common stigma. In a situation where international trade agreements and memoranda of understanding are not adhered to, foreign investors cannot come and invest. Apart from lack of infrastructure in the country, corruption is a major factor that is discouraging foreign investors from coming into the country for investments.

Nigerian leaders must put the country in order before they expect foreign investors to come in. Infrastructure like good roads, regular supply of electricity and water, moderate tax system, security of life and property must be provided before foreign investors will be willing to come and invest. Any amount of money spent on foreign trips in search for foreign investors without a conducive environment that guarantees investment, is a waste of the tax payers’ money and should be stopped forthwith.




 






       

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