The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa would hold in Nigeria in May and a lot has been said about the opportunities open to both local and foreign investors, to invest in Nigeria, albeit Africa. There are huge business and economic opportunities in Nigeria and other African countries but our leaders have spent tremendous energies trying to sell Africa to the world and less time trying to improve the way things are done in Africa and the lifestyle of ordinary Africans. During the last World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, 2014, the Nigerian president stated that corruption was not the product of Africa but the lack of basic infrastructures like refineries that refine both natural and mineral resources. He also said that it is about time that Africa should stop exporting her natural and mineral resources to western countries but rather refine/process it in Africa and then export the byproducts to interested countries. This has the potential of creating the much needed jobs in Africa to employ the large number of unemployed youths in Nigeria.
I agree with the president on one front, that Africa needs to stop the practice of exporting her crude resources to other countries, especially to the European Union, the UK, China and the US. Nigeria and other African countries need to refine their crude resources for use in their countries and other nations. These would also create a lot of jobs, because the refined products can be used in other industries like in the manufacturing industry for example. But we better be careful on what we wish for. Allowing foreign investors to come into our country and let them do as they like can be costly for our citizens. In the South American country, Paraguay, Brazilian agricultural investors, came into that country to destroy the Paraguayan forests and seize the lands of the poor farmers in that country, thereby impoverishing, the already impoverished local farmers. Now there is a huge misunderstanding between the local farmers and the mega rich Brazilian farming companies. This would likely be the same scene if we allow foreign investors to come in and not protect and support our people or entrepreneurs. Even in the media industry, the South African satellite TV Company DStv is still operating in Nigeria, while the Nigerian company Hitv is dead. We need to support Nigerian companies and not foreign companies because they would create jobs for Nigerians and also re-invest their money/income in the Nigerian economy and because they know our culture and problems more.
Secondly, I completely disagree with the Nigerian president on the issue of corruption not being our problem. Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria. This is a great act of irresponsibility on government and political officials in the corridors of power and the Nigerian civil service. This act transcends on all levels of governance in Nigeria, from the federal to the state and to the local government levels. These irresponsible people spend so much time stealing our monies for their private use and funding their political parties and sponsoring their cronies, than use the money to develop new infrastructures all over the country. They spend so much time on the pages of newspapers, on radio stations and t.v screens, selling their government and policies to the Nigerian people and yet the less we hear, see and read about, the more we hear, see and read. They forget that what they might be talking about might be true but it is not fact. Unless the government is serious about fighting corruption and making its officials and those who work for them to become responsible to the Nigerian people, then our goal of attracting foreign investors would be futile.
If we must take Nigeria to be amongst the top 20 wealthiest and developed countries (now the 26th wealthiest economy in the world and the largest in Africa) by the year 2020 and beyond, we must have leaders who must stop this sense of obligation or entitlement and dependence on our conquerors and colonizers, Britain and direct us to a new vision of self – determination as a nation. We must have leaders who are willing to tackle issues that affect us, such as political instability, corruption, unemployment, poor education among others. Nigeria and Africa as a whole will continue to attract a little number of foreign investors and their capital. Unless we have a government that tackles these problems, foreign investors will continue to be intrigued by the continent but will be scared to invest. Even Nigerian investors are scared to invest in Nigeria, because of the terrible business conditions in Nigeria. So I ask those selling the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Africa to be hosted in Nigeria, do you still think we need to sell Nigeria to the world?