From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has blamed the prevailing insecurity for Nigeria’s fall from the top 10 of preferred investment destinations in Africa.
Nigeria was absent from the top 10 best countries to invest in, in the latest Rand Merchant Bank report entitled: ‘Where to Invest in Africa 2021.’
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In the report, Egypt came out on top with Morocco and South Africa in the second and third most robust markets for investment respectively.
Smaller nations like Rwanda and Botswana moved up the rankings from position five and 13 in 2020 to four and five respectively in the latest index.
Ghana, Mauritius and Cote d’Ivoire came sixth, seventh and eighth respectively, while Kenya and Tanzania were ranked ninth and 10th of best African countries to invest in.
Despite the country’s dropped to 14th position, President Muhammadu Buhari had said the country remains the most viable and attractive investment destination in Africa.
The president, while addressing a trade and investment forum at Expo 2020 Dubai, had said Nigeria was on the path of becoming the continent’s leading industrial and trading nation, adding that his administration has made efforts to improve the investment environment.
Reacting to the development, Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who appeared on the 26th ministerial press briefing organised by the presidential communication team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said several factors including the state of security were responsible.
However, he said government was doing all that is necessary to return Nigeria to its position.
Asked what is responsible for the fall, he said: “Well, there are various factors. The reason for that varies but the major one being the security problems that we have within the country. And as you’re well aware, the Federal Government is making every effort to resolve the security problems, so that we will go back to the position of being the preferred destination.
“However, having said this, the feedback that I’m beginning to get lately from some of the people, the foreign governments that I have been meeting is that our position is getting better. Because there seems to be a big interest again in investing in Nigeria. So, I’m sure as time goes on, we will begin to see an improvement in that situation.
The reasons for that are various, the major line being the security problem that we have in the country.
“So, I’m sure as time goes on, we will begin to see an improvement in that situation.”
The minister disclosed that based on his interactions with foreign investors, their interest in investing in Nigeria has heightened. One of the things that we keep harping on is the fact that we have the largest individual population in Africa, we are the largest markets in Africa, of the 1.3 billion African market, over 200 million is Nigeria. So, anybody that wants to do business in Africa, we always say you should take advantage of that market. There’s no better place to start than Nigeria, because you have ready market in Nigeria, and Nigeria as a hub, and then spread to other African countries. And that is the message we will take out.”
On how that can be achieved amid insecurity, he said: “It is being sorted out. As you are aware, the Federal Government is making every effort. We’re buying lots of equipment, we are increasing the size of the police force, they are equipping them, they are equipping the military, they’ve been able to get some attack aircrafts now.
“I’m aware that the army will be buying some helicopters soon. So, a lot of effort and funds are being put in that direction with a view to resolving the security issue.”
Adebayo said the Federal Government is willing to provide incentive to investors to invest in insecurity prone areas.
He revealed that investment worth $400 million is being expected through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
“African Development Bank is in partnership with other banks. I think the Islamic development, some other banking institutions are showing an interest and I think the first trade will be about $400 million.”
The minister also spoke on the challenges facing manufacturing in Nigeria and how they can be overcome.
“As we all know, we have power issues in Nigeria and that is why one of the things that we’re looking at is setting up of these special economic zones, special agro-processing zones.
“The whole idea of setting up these processing and industrial zones is that, part of infrastructure that we put in place for those zones will be power. We have roads, we have water, all the things that are required will be put in those places.
“So, all you need to do as a manufacturer is come, lease the place and all the infrastructure you need will be in place that will help to make life easy.
“And one of the things that we’re also doing is to assist manufacturers is in regard to infrastructure.
“We are in touch with the minister of petroleum resources with a view to reducing the cost of gas. Many manufacturers are already generating their own power to power their industries.
“But the cost of the gas that they are asked to pay does not make them competitive. In fact, they pay more than even the companies that generate power.
“So, we are saying to the Minister of Petroleum, that they should sell gas to manufacturers at the same price they sell to the GenCos. Since they are also generating power, they should be given that opportunity to be able to buy gas at a price that would not make their goods uncompetitive.”
Speaking against the fact that while Nigerians foods exports are rejected abroad and other West African countries’ goods are accepted, he regretted the damage smuggling is doing to the nation’s economy.
“You’ll be surprised that those yams that they say come from Ghana actually comes from Nigeria.
“The major problem that we have is one that I did mentioned earlier, smuggling of our goods. A lot of agricultural produce are smuggled from Nigeria, into Ghana and exported from Ghana. You’ll be surprised that even our crude oil is exported from Ghana as crude oil from Ghana.
“So, there’s a lot of problems with that. And these are the areas that government is looking at, with a view to plugging the leakages.
“And why the people smuggle our agricultural produce to other countries to export is because of the problems that we are having with regard to exporting our goods from our own ports, the cost of exporting from of ports, the problems with the infrastructure to ports, the problem with the delay in exporting from our ports.
“And these are issues that I believe a cabinet committee has been set up with a view to resolving these issues so that it will make it easier for us to export goods from here without the attendant costs and delays that exporters presently are faced with. So, that will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister said government will soon complete the construction of its quality laboratory, located in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Adebayo said the completion of the laboratory would boost government’s effort towards exporting more products abroad.
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Police nab two suspected rapists in Ekiti
The police in Ekiti State have arrested two men for alleged rape and blackmail.
The suspects, 40-year-old Anthony Adedokun and 44-year-old Ayoola Ayodele, were arrested following report to the police by a 20-year-old female victim who alleged that she was raped and videotaped for blackmail by the duo.
Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti State Command, Sunday Abutu, who made the disclosure while parading them in Ado Ekiti on Friday, said “the suspects would be charged to court as soon as possible for prosecution”.
Abutu, while giving details about the matter, said that Adedokun forcibly had carnal knowledge of the victim in his apartment alongside Ayodele, a timber contractor.
He said, “Police investigation revealed that the victim and Adedokun met through Facebook and started a relationship since sometime in 2021. Adedokun, presented himself to her as a police officer who could assist her to join the Nigeria Police Force.
“In the process, the victim solicited for a financial help of N10,000 from Adedokun, who obliged, but insisted that the lady must come to his house in Ado Ekiti to get the money. The victim decided to visit Adedokun in his house on January 17, 2022, and the suspect took her to Ayodele’s house where he had carnal knowledge of her against her wish.
“Surprisingly, Ayodele videotaped them and used the video to blackmail the victim to have sex with him also, which happened in the same room and on the same bed.
“Furthermore, the two suspects forcibly booked an appointment with the victim to come back on January 21 for another round of sex or risk sending her sex video to the internet for the world to see.”
Abutu noted that during interrogation, the two suspects confessed to the commission of the crime and as well many others, adding that they had, through similar trick, slept with many unsuspecting ladies.
Gov Sule’s community security Mechanism has made Nasarawa safer, says Hon Moses
From Abel Leonard, Lafia
The Community security Mechanism adopted by Governor Abdullahi Sule in tackling insecurity in the state has been described as an effective strategy that has kept the state in peace and safe.
Describing the policy on Friday is the Senior Special Assistant to governor Sule on security Engr. Moses Utondo, during an interview with news men in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital.
According to the aide, the state government’s adoption and use of community based security mechanism has curtailed instances of insecurity and made the state safer compared to the time of previous administrations and compared to other states.
“In most cases if you allow a security challenge to occur before you respond, it results into monumental damage. So this administration adopted a policy, a security mechanism which is community based.
“This community based security mechanism has succeeded in checkmating issues of possible outbreak of security breaches in any part of the state. It is so effective that we don’t allow security breaches to occur before we respond to it,” he said.
He explained that the state government’s community based security mechanism entails strong synergy and commitment with community stakeholders who tips off state government officials and security agencies immediately there are signs of an impending security breach in any part of the state.
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“Anywhere there are issues that can result to outbreak of insecurity, we always tackle it head on. We apply our local methods in gathering intelligence from local sources which has been successful in alerting us ahead if there are signs of security breaches.
“The use of this method is because some of the security agents in the state are not locals and sometimes cannot get to the root of any intelligence information except the locals are ready to cooperate,” he said.
He explained further that what has made the state safer compared to other states is the constant interface with traditional rulers on the state of security situation in their domains.
The SSA however added the community based security mechanism also entailed working in partnership with security agencies in the state to gather intelligence, arrest and prosecute trouble makers found, thereby making it difficult for security breaches to occur.
“Today Nasarawa state is rated the first in the country in terms of security and this is due to the sincere commitment of the administration of Governor Abdullahi Sule to tackle insecurity head-on.
“You will agree with me that clashes between herders and farmers has significantly reduced since this administration came on board,” he said.