The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi, yesterday expressed displeasure at the attitude of some government officials to foreign investors.
The former governor of the Central Bank (CBN) said Nigeria has to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy if it must succeed in bringing in the much needed foreign investments.
Emir Sanusi, who spoke at the Nigeria Embassy in Washington DC, said Nigeria has a strong economy and market, which ordinarily should make it an investment hub in Africa, yet many investors shy away from the country on account of the attitude of some government officials.
He said: “Nigeria maybe the biggest economy, but an investor may decide that rather than go through the hassle of investing, say $500 million in Nigeria, he may decide to invest $100 million each in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, or Rwanda.
“I’ll give you a simple example, we had a meeting today (yesterday) with investors. We were supposed to start at 10 am.
“So I came in early, and I was taken to the Nigerian Ambassador’s office to sit down, while investors were waiting for me outside. That is not how you attract investors.
“Also, we had a list of top Nigerians that were to attend the meeting, like the Vice President and some Ministers. Some of these ministers were in town but they didn’t come.
“You (Nigeria) invite US Commerce Secretary, some top investors and your Ministers are in Washington and they do not come to talk to the investors about Nigeria. That is not done.”
Continuing, Emir Sanusi said: “I bet you that if the Rwandan Embassy had this kind of forum, President Kagame himself would be there telling people to come to his country.
“There is absolutely no reason why the Nigerian Embassy in the US will organise ‘Nigeria is open for business’ forum, with Nigerian ministers and some governors in town and not in here to meet these investors. And there is no reason to start one hour late, or that our public address systems should not be working.
“This is the first point of entry for these investors. They haven’t even come to Nigeria and this is their experience already. He may say that if I’m having this experience in DC, what will happen when I go to Abuja or Kano? How do I get to see the governor? Will I wait 10 hours?
“And for these kind of people (investors) in DC, they had other Heads of States to meet, World Bank to meet and an hour is a lot of time for them to wait for you.
“So, I think we need to 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.”
But he was quick to add that investors are still interested in investing in the country’s agriculture, mining and technology sectors and not just oil.
He said that Nigeria had a chance of getting foreign investors to come in and invest in areas that would help in diversifying the economy if they behave more professionally.
Meanwhile, the founder of Oriental Energy, Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, has pledged to continue to expand his investment in Nigeria and also encourage his friends both home and abroad to do so.
He spoke at the 2018 US-Nigeria investment summit tagged “Nigeria is Open for Business” designed to showcase some of the economically viable investment opportunities in Nigeria.
The emphasis is on getting the much needed private capital to achieve the investment projects listed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Some of the ministers billed to take part in the forum were those of Trade and Investment, Finance, Transportation, Agriculture, Science and Technology and also the Minister of state for Petroleum and the Central Bank Governor.
Only Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi turned up.