President Muhammadu Buhari has explained how his administration took painful decisions to invest for a prosperous future of all Nigerians.
Speaking on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia at an investment conference organised by the Future Investment Initiative Institute, the Nigerian leader said upon assuming office in 2015, his government understood the importance on inclusive policies for sustainable peace.
“In the past six years, our government took very painful but necessary decisions to invest for a long-term prosperous future knowing very well that this will come with short term pains,” the President was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his media aide, Garba Shehu.
“Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 percent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies.”
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He said the Federal Government will keep encouraging public and private initiatives that increase investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security.
This, according to him, will go a long way in reenergizing the global economy in a post COVID-19 era.
Buhari attributed the growing social unrest to inequalities and unfair policies that exclude majority from opportunities for participation, admonishing world leaders and global investors to prioritize on inclusive and humane policies.
Reacting to the theme of the summit, ‘Investing in Humanity’, President Buhari said the Nigerian perspective remains a focus on people oriented development policies, with diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining; tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change and introducing Social Investment Programmes.
Buhari commended the organizers of this year’s summit for the foresight to look at “investment”, not only from a profitability and wealth accumulation point of view, but also bringing prosperity to humanity in general.
The humane approach to investment, he said, is the only way to address the global challenges we face, especially in the Covid-19 era.
The President noted that investment in humanity must also take into consideration the effects of debt burden on nations, which had been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added, “We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries.
“These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall wellbeing of their population.”
Describing the summit as a credible forum for interaction between the public and private sectors, to explore ways of advancing economic growth, development and global prosperity, the President said Nigeria’s diversification efforts continue to yield results, particularly in agriculture.
President Buhari told the gathering of world leaders, global investors and asset managers that the oil sector was already undergoing a reform that would make it more attractive and inclusive.
“Two months ago, I signed the Petroleum Industry Act. The Act will serve as a catalyst to liberalize our petroleum sector. It has introduced a number of incentives such as tax holidays, 100 percent ownership, zero interest loans and easy transfer of funds. In addition, we have highly skilled in-country workforce and a large domestic market.
“In mining, we have also made several opportunities available for investors. Nigeria is a country rich in minerals from gold, iron ore, tin, zinc, cobalt, lithium, limestone, phosphate, bitumen and many others. We have made the licensing process easier and also made extensive investments in rail and transportation.
“Infrastructure investments represent significant potential for investors in Nigeria. We have opportunities in seaports, rail, toll roads, real estate, renewable energy and many others. We have created several institutions that are available to co-invest with you in Nigeria.
“We have the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and more recently, I approved the creation of Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria. These institutions are run as independent world class institutions to make investments in the country and are available to co-invest with you,” he further explained.
The Nigerian leader urged more interest in infrastructure such as healthcare and education, which “present enormous opportunities for investors in a country our size.”