Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Washington DC
Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamiso Sanusi, has decried the poor attendance of governors, ministers at the US-Nigeria Investment Summit 2018, on Saturday, saying it was discouraging to investors.
The Summit was organized on the sidelines of IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC, with the theme: “Meet and Partner with Government Policy Makers Institutional Investors Corporate Leaders”.
Only the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was present at the Summit.
Speaking to journalists, the monarch, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, expressed his displeasure that, despite the fact that a number of ministers and governors were in town, they did not turn up at the summit.
“I have said it is not easy. Africa has been on the move for a long time, we have countries like Ghana, like Cote d’Ivoire, like Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, that have actually worked on how they make their environment attractive to investors; and that is the kind of conversation we need to have. What do we need to do as a country because you can have everything and at the end of the day, for the person sitting in London and who has a billion dollars to invest, he’s got Nigeria, he’s got Ghana, he’s got Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, you may be the biggest economy, but may decide that rather than go through the hassle of investing $500 million in Nigeria, why not put $100 million in Ghana, $100 million in Rwanda, $100 million in Cote d’Ivoire, just to have diversification benefit and the benefit of reaching out,” Sanusi stated.
“I will give you a little example. We have a meeting today with investors, we were supposed to start by 9 a.m. We started at 10. When I came in they took me to the ambassador’s office to sit down, when investors were waiting down there. We had a list of people who where to be there, Vice President, minsters, some of them are in town, but they haven’t come up.
“You inivite top investors, your ministers are in Washington and they do not come to talk to the investors about Nigeria. That is not how you attract investors. If you have this forum in the Rwandan embassy, I assure you President Kigame himself would be there telling people to come to Nigeria. Sometimes it is about how we market ourselves, how we package ourselves. There is absolutely no reason for the Nigerian Embassy to arrange “Nigeria is open for business forum” with ministers in town, with governors in town, and not have the coordination that they are actually here to meet with these investors, and there is no reason why we should start one hour late, and there is no reason why the public address system should not work.
“At the end of the the day, this is the first point of the country, he hasn’t even come to Nigeria so what will be his experience in Abuja? And he is saying if I am having this experience in Washington, what will happen when I go to Abuja, when I go to Kano, how do I get to see the governor, will it take me 10 hours. And for these people who are in Washington, they have investors to meet, they have Heads of States to meet, they have the World Bank to meet, one hour is a lot of time for them to be sitting down waiting for you to start your project.
“I think we need to just look at those kind of things that investors look at and have a very honest conversation, sector by sector, region by region, state by state, what do we need to do to make those areas attractive? People are interested in agriculture, in power, they are interested in technology as you can see, it is not just oil. And these sectors are all over the country, but we need to understand exactly what it would require to bring them in and also which local partners you can rely on.”