President Buhari’s Foreign Trips Not Frivolous – Minister

BuhariNigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips since assuming office are critical to the implementation of his administration’s key policies of enhancing security, jump-starting the economy, creating jobs and fighting corruption.

In a statement issued on Friday in Abuja, the Minister said that all the trips have been anything but frivolous, and that they have started yielding fruits in terms of turning the tide in the fight against the insurgents who have been most active in the North-east, attracting investments in the range of billions of dollars, and securing global support for the administration’s anti-corruption fight.

“Nigerians, whether in the ruling or the opposition parties, have a right to ask questions about the activities of their President, but it is absolutely important that they do so from an informed, rather than partisan or sensational, standpoint,” he said.

‘Regional and Global Support’

The Minister explained that most of the President’s trips – to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, as well as to Germany, the US, France and the UN – were devoted to rallying regional and global support for the war against terrorism.

buhari“He was in Germany at the invitation of the G7 to solicit support from the industrialized nations for the war against terrorism. No one who has witnessed the killings and maiming in the past seven years by Boko Haram will call such trips frivolous. After all, the security and welfare of the citizens are the reason for the existence of any government.

“The President’s visit to South Africa was to attend the regular summit of the African Union; the trip to Ghana was aimed at fostering better relations with a brotherly country; the trip to India was for the India-Africa summit that provided the opportunity to explore ways of enhancing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from Indian investors, while the trip to Iran was to attend the forum of Gas Exporting Countries, a veritable platform for discussing how to better harness Nigeria’s abundant gas resources for industrial/domestic consumption and export, at a time of dwindling oil prices.

“The President also travelled to Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, from where he travelled to Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change. The President’s second trip to South Africa since assuming office is for the China-Africa forum.

“On the few occasions that the President has embarked on a state visit, he has tied that to an agenda that will further the quest for support for the war against terror and the efforts to enhance FDIs, thus stimulating economic growth and creating jobs,” the Minister said.

He said that apart from rallying global support for the country’s wars on terror and graft or seeking foreign investments, it is important that Nigeria leverages President Buhari’s brand, a high integrity quotient and an embodiment of committed and dedicated leadership, to further Nigeria’s relevance and visibility on the global stage.

“President Buhari is well respected on the global stage for his high integrity, his transparency, his patriotism and his purposeful leadership. It is important to leverage this respect in such a way that Nigeria can become a major player, either in the realms of economy or global diplomacy,” the Minister said.

The Minister added that the President had embarked on the trips under a very stringent budget, cutting his delegations to numbers far below what his predecessors used to travel with, while even the trimmed entourage had received reduced allowances on the occasions that the host governments have provided accommodation and feeding.

Devaluation Of Naira Not Appropriate In Economic Realities – Osinbajo

Yemi-OsinbajoNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said that devaluation of the Naira is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities in the country and offers no solutions as far as the Buhari administration is concerned.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant – Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier expressed his views that a further devaluation of the Nigerian currency is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

The Vice President received the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry John Calderwood in his office on Thursday and spoke in a similar vein about the Naira.

“I don’t agree with devaluation and it is not that I am doctrinaire about it. In the first place, it is not a solution, we are not exporting significantly. And the way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy.”

“What we need to do is to start spending more on the economy and then things will ease up a bit,” he said.

He observed that the issues around the Nigerian economy required reasonable flexibility in dealing with them.

The Vice President outlined the Federal Government’s plans to set up a $25 billion infrastructural fund which would be sourced from local and international sources including through Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and also the pension fund among others.

He disclosed that the fund would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures.

“This is our approach to speeding up the country’s infrastructural development,” he added.

Foreign Exchange Restriction

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the current foreign exchange restriction is a temporary measure to ensure that “we don’t deplete our foreign exchange substantially at a time when the prices of oil in the international market is dropping”.

He added that the restriction would also bring some stability to the country’s foreign reserves without which Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, might be affected.

In his reckoning, FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which is being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, adding that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses are not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who have previous contracts and loan commitments.

He expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to both envoys on behalf of President Buhari and also said that he looked forward to closer and deeper ties between Nigeria and the two countries.

A delegation of top executives from Citigroup led by Mr. Jim Cowles also paid a courtesy call on the Vice President earlier on Thursday.

NIPC Meets Diplomats Over Foreign Direct Investment

InvestmentThe Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission says the current security challenge in the country would not affect the drive of the commission to attract more investors into the country.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Ms Saratu Umar, disclosed this in Abuja during an interactive session with members of the diplomatic community.

She said that rather than witnessing decline in the level of investments coming into the country, statistics have shown that for the second year running, Nigeria still remained the preferred investment destination in the continent of Africa.

She said that the commission would work with the diplomatic community to attract fresh investments into the country in key sectors of the economy.

This, according to her, would help promote enterprise, reduce unemployment and improve the well being of Nigeria in the face of declining oil prices.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission is a Federal Government Agency in Nigeria, established to encourage, promote, and coordinate investments in Nigeria.

The Agency provides services for the grant of business entry permits, licenses, authorizations and incentives in a One-Stop-Shop environment. The services are provided in a co-ordinated, streamlined, efficient and transparent manner to meet the needs of investors.

Bayelsa Is One Of Most Secure Places To Do Business – Seriake Dickson

Seriake DicksonThe Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson has urged both local and foreign investors to pitch their tents in the oil-producing State, noting that it is one of the most secure places to do business in Nigeria.

Dickson, who made the call at the on-going maiden edition of the Bayelsa Investment and Economic Forum, in Yenagoa, commended security agencies for doing a good job of keeping the peace in the State, thereby making it a choice destination for investors.

Investors and Government officials from both Federal and State levels, who had gathered for the ceremony, included the Vice President, Nnamadi Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison Madueke, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.

While delivering his speech, Governor Dickson made a strong case for his state, urging investors to do business in the land as his administration had made plans to position Bayelsa as a major vibrant economy.

Dickson, who described Bayelsa as Nigeria’s best kept economic and leisure secret, noted that his administration was “working hard to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy,” he said, noting that the government had embarked on several projects in some sectors, including education, power, agriculture, fashion, tourism e.t.c.

“In the past 2 years, we have built schools and schools and schools,” he emphasized, noting that over 600 primary schools had been built, including teachers’ quarters.

He disclosed plans to have a school in every state House Constituency of the House of Assembly.

He further highlighted that education is free in the State and that the government also paid for external examinations, maintaining that “our goal is education for the economy”.

According to him, human capacity development is the nation’s greatest challenge, hence different schools for music, agriculture, language studies, driving, fashion, photography are being set up to develop the youths.

He also called on investors in the fashion and tourism sector to pitch their tents in the State as the government was already making preparations to train youths.

The governor also spoke about power generation, maintaining that “we are aspiring to be the number one in power generation” and since the State produced about 40% of the nation’s crude oil and mineral resources, “we are aspiring to be the nation’s power hub”.

He stressed that the government was also interested in palm oil production, as well as aqua-culture. He disclosed that the State was targeting production of 3000 tonnes of fish for local consumption and export.

Also, the governor stated that about 6000 hectares of land set aside for cassava planting as the largest cassava processing company was stationed in the State.

Governor Dickson also addressed people of the State to reduce their dependency on the government. “We have got to move away from over-dependence on government and into production,” he stressed.

“You the people of Bayelsa must also do your part… don’t live a life of dependence. Take responsibility for your livelihood,” he said.

FG launches Intellectual Property Automated System

The federal government has recorded another milestone by launching the first Intellectual Property Automated System (IPAS) in 100 years.

The IPAS is a world acclaimed system of automated processing of applications for the registration of trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

It is a part of government’s efforts to transform the Nigerian Industrial Landscape. It was launched by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.

According to Mr Aganga, the system would enhance the confidence of both the local and international communities and further encourage local and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country.

With the implementation of the IPAS, Nigeria will join 16 countries, out of the 53 on the African continent, who have deployed the service for their use.

Foreign Investment In Nigeria Reaches N800billion

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Nigeria has reached a record N800 billion in January this year.

This comes as prominent corporations from the United States of America, Canada, The Netherlands and Turkey increased their investment stakes in the country, in a pace never seen before.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s figures for third quarter of last year showed that a total of $1.4 billion was injected into the economy through FDI while $4.6 billion came in through portfolio investments, with another $4.7 billion invested in the nation’s capital market.

The current inflows and investment commitments with different gestation periods focus on infrastructure development, construction of power plants for the enhancement of electricity generation, mining, healthcare, agriculture and agro-allied sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Foreign investment in Nigeria hits $9billion

Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) hit $8.9 billion in 2011.

That’s according to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga.

The figure represents 16 per cent of Africa’s total FDI of $55 billion in 2011, making it the leading investment destination in Africa.

Mr Aganga attributed the increase to growing investor confidence.

According to him, the federal government is committed to consolidating on the gains so far recorded by strengthening the one-stop investment centre of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).

 

Jonathan says power supply has improved

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said that power generation and supply in Nigeria has improved significantly attributing this improvement to the power reforms initiated by his administration.

The president, who disclosed this in a nationwide broadcast to mark the 52 years independence of Nigeria, said that his administration has put in place a cost reflective system to reduce the cost of electricity.

“Our country’s power supply situation is improving gradually,” he said.

The president further said “we are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution.

“We have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers. I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply.
GDP is growing

President Jonathan, who acknoledged the impact of the current financial crisis on the global economy, however said that “during the same period and particularly in the last two years, the Nigerian economy has done appreciably well. Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on average”.

“It is also significant that the GDP growth has been driven largely by the non-oil sector. In pursuance of the main goals of the Transformation Agenda, a number of reforms and initiatives are being pursued in key sectors of the economy with a view to consolidating the gains of the economic growth”.

More crude oil
The president also spoke on the gradual improvement of the crude production volumes.

“Our 12-month gas supply emergency plan, put in place earlier this year, has produced more than the targeted volumes of gas for power generation. A robust Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been placed before the National Assembly. Its passage into law will ensure far-reaching reforms, transparency, accountability, increased government revenue and predictability for investors in the Oil and Gas sector”.

More jobs
President Jonathan said: “Several government programmes and projects are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for our youth and general population. Such programmes include: You-Win, both for the youth and for the women, Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas Sector, and the Agricultural Transformation programme.

He said the Nigerian investment environment has also improved as “more corporate bodies are investing in the Nigerian economy. Our Investment Climate Reform Programme has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion local and foreign direct investment commitments”.

“Nigeria has become the preferred destination for investment in Africa. It is ranked first in the top 5 host economies for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa, accounting for over 20 per cent of total FDI flows into the continent. We have streamlined bureaucratic activities at the ports to ensure greater efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Specifically, we have drastically reduced the goods clearing period in our ports from about six weeks to about one week and under. We have an ultimate target of 48 hours.
“We have put in place, a new visa policy that makes it easier for legitimate investors to receive long stay visas. We have achieved a 24-hour timeline for registration of new businesses, leading to the registration of close to 7, 000 companies within the second quarter of 2012.