Britons and other European investors looking forward to investing in Africa have been urged to look in the direction of Nigeria.
This was the message from the Nigerian leaders who gathered at the Institute of Directors (IOD) on Pall Mall Street, London, where the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) respectively encouraged more British and European investors to invest in Nigeria.
The Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo; Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Ms. Evelyn Oputu; Nigeriaâ€™s businessman, Hakeem Bello-Osagie and a host of others were also present at the forum.
At the meeting organised to mark the Commonwealth Day Observance Service and the Nigerian Centenary celebration, Uduaghan said: â€œThere are strong reasons for anyone to invest in Nigeria at this time, because the country is a haven for profitable investment.
â€œThere is a bright future for Nigeria in terms of investment. The environment is right and is truly a destination for those investors heading to Africa.â€
The governor, who gave keynote speech with the theme â€˜Perspectives on Sustainable Development in Nigeriaâ€™s Delta: The Delta Beyond Oil Initiativeâ€™ said: â€œWhile oil remained a major resource, we recognise its finite characteristic and that dependence on it in the way we have done, since it started to create wealth in the country would deny us other opportunities.
â€œWe know that examples abound around the world of countries that have tapped mainly human endowment to jump to the front ranks of societies in the world. The concept of Delta Beyond Oil was harnessed to mobilise the citizens, statesmen,
lawmakers, civil servants, college professors, students, professionals, farmers and artisans that oil and gas may be good for now, but the future belongs elsewhere in the powers of the mind to generate wealth and well-being for ourselves and generations to come.â€
Uduaghan said his government was providing enabling environment for investment in the state by focusing on infrastructure and human capital development as well as peace and security.
The Delta State governor told the British investors that the federal government had been of tremendous support to the state as part of the drive to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the country as a whole.
He listed one area where investors can partner the state as tourism sector.
According to the governor, investors are now taking the advantage of the peaceful environment in the state to invest in tourism.
Also, Oshiomhole said Edo Stateâ€™s proximity to Lagos and Abuja with its abundant raw materials were the opportunities that the British and European investors must consider when coming to Nigeria.
â€œThe British investors must take advantage of the geographical location of Edo State when considering investment in Nigeria. Edo State is one of the most strategically positioned states for investment in Nigeria. We have the largest palm oil that should interest any investor and there are more mineral resources in abundance in Edo State,â€ he said.
He added: â€œBritish investors should do more in Nigeria. It is important that you take advantage of the tie rather than allow what we now see which is more of the Asians.â€
In the same vein, Yuguda told the participants at the meeting that Nigeria was an environment â€œwhere you invest and get super-normal profit.â€
He said: â€œIn spite of our problems, nothing should stop any serious investors from taking advantage of the opportunity we now have. The federal government is tackling insecurity issues and Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa.â€
For his part, General Gowon said the relationship between Nigeria and United Kingdom has been since colonial period, adding that the opportunity was there for British people to take advantage of the profitable investment climate in Nigeria.
â€œDespite our challenges, Nigeria remains a destination for investment,â€ he said.
The IOD Director General, Simon Walker, praised Nigerian leadersâ€™ effort at repositioning the country for the future, saying: â€œIt has been remarkable 100 years for Nigeria. It is befitting that during the centenary celebration, we should celebrate Nigeriaâ€™s economic progress, the demography, the opportunities and the challenges that Nigeria faces. I have no doubt that during this century, we will be talking about Nigeria as one of the largest economy of the world. I hope that our two countries can come together to take advantage of these opportunities.
Also, Lord Watson of Richmond said the population of Nigeria and its diversity are what any investor should be concerned about.
â€œWhen people think about Nigeria, they donâ€™t think about the past, they focus entirely on its present. That is of great importance. The population and diversity are sources of strength for any nation. Nigeria and its dynamic growth and population are something that is in the mind of everyone who thinks about Africa.â€
He explored the relationship between Nigeria and United Kingdom as good opportunity to consider by British investors saying, â€œour two nations are characterised by diversity. There is always tension between diversity and unity, but the truth is we must tolerate each other and move beyond tolerance to protection.
On his part, Nebo impressed the audience with the strides that Nigeria was making in the power sector with the privatisation of the electricity company.
He said with the current investment in power plants in the country by the government and the private sector, in a few months, the power generation and distribution in the country would make Nigeria the best economy in Africa.