Jonathan: Nigeria to implement bold economic reforms

President Jonathan (looking hale and hearty) and Baroness Lynda Chalker at the HIIC meeting in London

President Jonathan (looking hale and hearty) and Baroness Lynda Chalker at the HIIC meeting in London

A revitalised President Goodluck Jonathan addressed the ongoing meeting of Nigeria’s Honourary International Investors’ Council Friday in London having made a speedy recovery from the indisposition he experienced yesterday.

After apologising to the council members for his absence Thursday, President Jonathan said that his administration has attained significant momentum on the drive to attract new investors into the country and will continue to encourage existing investors within the country to expand.

“In 2014, we must not lose this momentum, but rather broaden our interventions to address other difficult issues like the high cost of financing in the country, and the dearth of adequate skills.

“This 15th meeting builds on the last conversation we had in Abuja and begins to address the fundamental issues constraining competitiveness and investment in Nigeria. Competitiveness ultimately drives profitability, which is what investors are seeking worldwide.

President Jonathan (looking hale and hearty) and Baroness Lynda Chalker at the HIIC meeting in London
President Jonathan (looking hale and hearty) and Baroness Lynda Chalker at the HIIC meeting in London

“To be competitive, we must address long standing issues, and introduce bold and courageous reforms, regardless of short term political pressures. This is why my government has remained steadfast in making Nigeria the preferred location for investors to do business, because it is our only pathway to create jobs, generate wealth, and guarantee our security.

“In building a truly competitive environment for business, we are addressing the fundamental issues such as internal security and power supply head-on. For the first time in Nigeria’s 53 year history, we have successfully privatized the electric power industry.

“We are bringing capital, technology, and operational excellence into the sector. As a result, 11 distribution companies, and four (4) generation companies have been privatized, realising over US$3 billion for Government. For Council’s information the assets were finally handed over on 1st November, 2013.

“I am delighted to inform you that investors are responding positively to the opportunities in the sector and we expect to see significant investments in the sector and across the value chain going forward. Ladies and Gentlemen, resolving the power sector alone, completely changes the paradigm on doing business in Nigeria, and we are satisfied with the progress made.

“Equally, although challenges remain, we are investing in the requisite security infrastructure and intelligence network that will enable us deal more effectively with the new threats we face which can and do hamper investor confidence in our economy.

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“In ensuring that the environment is suitable for investment, we will also continue to intensify the fight against corruption. We are indeed happy that the private sector has begun complementing our strong desire to tackle all forms of rent seeking tendencies. The “Clean Business Nigeria Today” initiative coming from the meetings of the Council is a very good example.

“I also use this opportunity to inform Council that Nigeria will be hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa, between the 7th and 9th of May 2014.

“Our hosting this event is yet again a strong sign of Nigeria’s central economic and political role on the continent. The forthcoming World Economic Forum will be used to shape matters of inclusive growth on the continent, and I invite all members of Council to join us in Abuja in May 2014,” President Jonathan told members of the council.

The President participated in a discussion of the presentation by the Minister of Communications Technology on the development of ICT infrastructure in Nigeria.

He was also briefed on the council’s deliberations yesterday on measures to secure additional sources of financing for essential development projects in Nigeria.

Baroness Lynda Chalker who coordinates the council, told President Jonathan that its members felt much more positive about the opening up of investment opportunities in Nigeria.

She said that the attendance at the ongoing meeting of the Council was the highest ever in its history and that its members were very excited about the emerging potentials of the Nigerian economy.

President Jonathan welcomed a new member of the council, Mohammed Al Shaibani, the Director General of the Ruler’s Court, Government of Dubai, and the CEO and Executive Director of the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

The London meeting was Shaibani’s first as a member.

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