Buhari: My poli­cies may hurt some busi­nesses

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili, Daniel Adugbo & Ab­dul­la­teef Salau

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari said yes­ter­day that some of the poli­cies his gov­ern­ment will im­ple­ment may hurt op­er­a­tions of some busi­nesses in the short term, but added that those mea­sures were right for a sus­tain­able econ­omy.

Speak­ing in New Delhi yes­ter­day dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion with Chief Ex­ec­u­tives of In­dian com­pa­nies with in­ter­ests in Nige­ria, Pres­i­dent Buhari listed some of the mea­sures to in­clude tight ex­pen­di­ture con­trols, ef­fec­tive fis­cal and mone­tary poli­cies and “hus­bandry” of scarce resources. Buhari is in In­dia for the 3rd In­dia-Africa sum­mit.

He said with abun­dance of hu­man and ma­te­rial resources, the Nige­rian econ­omy did not have to suf­fer un­duly from low oil prices de­spite its se­vere im­pact on gov­ern­ment rev­enues.

“What is re­quired of us, to which we are strongly com­mit­ted, is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of tight ex­pen­di­ture con­trols, ef­fec­tive fis­cal and mone­tary poli­cies, in­clud­ing the hus­bandry of scarce resources which our in­tro­duc­tion of the Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count has be­gun to ad­dress.

“We are aware some of th­ese mea­sures may hurt op­er­a­tions of some busi­nesses in the short term, but we be­lieve they are right for a sus­tain­able econ­omy”.

The pres­i­dent as­sured that de­spite the fall in oil prices, his ad­min­is­tra­tion re­mained fully com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity and im­prov­ing in­vestors’ con­fi­dence in Nige­ria.

Buhari, who noted that In­dia had been a de­pend­able ally and friend of Nige­ria, urged the chief ex­ec­u­tives to ex­pand their com­pa­nies’ in­vest­ments in Nige­ria “so that we can, to­gether, turn our en­gage­ments into a win­win sit­u­a­tion for our two coun­tries”.

The pres­i­dent also urged the In­dian CEOs to ac­cept the changes in pol­icy be­ing in­tro­duced by his ad­min­is­tra­tion and ob­serve all ex­tant Nige­rian laws in run­ning their busi­ness in Nige­ria.

Buhari em­phat­i­cally warned that his gov­ern­ment would not tol­er­ate the im­por­ta­tion of sub-stan­dard goods, es­pe­cially foods and medicines, into Nige­ria.

“We can in­crease and di­ver­sify the cur­rent vol­ume of our bi­lat­eral trade be­yond US$16.36 bil­lion, and di­ver­sify to other crit­i­cal sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture; green tech­nolo­gies in power gen­er­a­tion; in­fras­truc­ture; in­for­ma­tion and communications tech­nolo­gies; the ser­vices sec­tor; ed­u­ca­tion; industry, es­pe­cially tex­tiles and solid min­er­als among oth­ers,” Buhari said.

‘We will re­cover looted funds’

While ad­dress­ing the Nige­rian com­mu­nity in In­dia yes­ter­day, Buhari re­it­er­ated the de­ter­mi­na­tion of his ad­min­is­tra­tion to fight cor­rup­tion, plug loop­holes in pub­lic sec­tor ac­count­ing and use Nige­ria’s scarce resources for the ben­e­fit of all Nige­ri­ans.

He said the re­cov­ery of looted funds and pros­e­cu­tion of in­dicted per­sons will be vig­or­ously pur­sued.

“The anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign will be on­go­ing for many years. We are com­mit­ted to the en­throne­ment of good gov­er­nance that plugs the loop­holes in pub­lic sec­tor ac­count­ing, and the use of scarce resources for pub­lic good.

“In the mean­time, we will con­tinue to pros­e­cute those who have been in­dicted for cor­rupt prac­tices and en­sure that stolen funds are re­cov­ered, to serve as de­ter­rence to oth­ers who nurse the am­bi­tion of seek­ing pub­lic of­fice solely for il­le­gal per­sonal gain,” Buhari said.

He added that “we shall do our best to fix the econ­omy, cre­ate jobs for the teem­ing pop­u­la­tion of our youth and make the home en­vi­ron­ment safe, se­cure and more at­trac­tive to Nige­ri­ans out­side the coun­try like your good selves.”

On in­sur­gency, the pres­i­dent said “We are also tak­ing steps to ad­dress crim­i­nal­ity across the coun­try. We are tack­ling the menace of ter­ror­ism posed by Boko Haram head on and I am pleased to note that though spo­radic at­tacks on soft tar­gets have not stopped, the over-all ca­pac­ity of Boko Haram to hold ter­ri­tory and de­ter­mine the course of the con­flict has been se­verely de­graded.

“If the cur­rent pos­i­tive trends are main­tained, we are con­fi­dent that by the end of this year, we would have suc­ceeded in per­ma­nently turn­ing the tide against the Boko Haram in­sur­gents in Nige­ria,” he said.

In­dia as Nige­ria’s big­gest oil buyer

Daily Trust re­ports that In­dia, last year, re­placed the United States of Amer­ica as the big­gest buyer of Nige­rian oil. The NNPC 2014 An­nual Sta­tis­ti­cal Bul­letin in­di­cated that In­dia bought 136,419,844 bar­rels of crude oil, at a time when the United States’ own pur­chases from Nige­ria was 24,047,758.

In­dia im­ported nearly 27 per­cent more African crude in April-Septem­ber, mainly from An­gola and Nige­ria, Reuters re­ported yes­ter­day, just as it said that Iraq also over­took Saudi Ara­bia as the top crude ex­porter to In­dia in Septem­ber for the third time in 2015, cit­ing tanker data it ob­tained.

In 2014, Nige­rian ex­ports to In­dia reached $15.66 bil­lion, of which nearly 99% was oil. In­dia ex­ported only $2.88 bil­lion in goods to Nige­ria.

Re­cently, the In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to Nige­ria,Aj­jam­pur R. Ghanashyam, said In­dia has the po­ten­tial of im­port­ing $50 bil­lion worth of crude oil from Nige­ria. “We can buy more be­cause our re­quire­ment is go­ing up.”

A stake­holder in the oil and gas industry Yakubu Saidu said In­dia seemed keen in buy­ing oil from Nige­ria be­cause “our crude is light and easy to re­fine. I be­lieve this is one is­sue that will dom­i­nate part of the dis­cus­sion be­tween the Nige­rian del­e­ga­tion led by Pres­i­dent Buhari and the In­dian gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing busi­ness­men.”

Daily Trust also re­ports that an In­dian diplo­mat in Abuja re­cently said that oil re­mains In­dia’s per­ceived vi­tal in­ter­est in the re­la­tion­ship.

Ex­perts say that In­dia also wants to en­sure it is not com­pletely over­shad­owed on the con­ti­nent by its neigh­bor and ri­val, China, in Nige­ria in par­tic­u­lar and Africa in gen­eral.

Hin­dus­tan Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion Ltd, and In­dian Oil Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited are among few In­dian oil com­pa­nies that have par­tic­i­pated in mostly down­stream of Nige­ria oil sec­tor but Chi­nese firms have landed the big en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion deals else­where across Africa and have a much larger role in oil ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion.

Much of the In­dian pres­ence is in­di­rect with spe­cific ref­er­ence to the In­do­rama Eleme Petro­chem­i­cal Com­pany, a petro­chem­i­cal plant owned by the In­di­ans.

In­dia in­sists its en­gage­ment with Africa has noth­ing to do with China. But it is be­lieved that New Delhi is clearly con­cerned about Bei­jing’s in­creas­ing clout on the con­ti­nent.

In­dia, Nige­ria have come a long way

Am­bas­sador Chive Kaave, former Nige­rian Am­bas­sador to Ar­gentina, said “Though Nige­ria and In­dia have come a long way in the in­ter­na­tional arena, we still have a lot to gain from In­dia. In­dia is a very strong part­ner in the in­ter­na­tional arena, no longer can be de­scribed third world. In­deed like Sin­ga­pore, I can de­scribe In­dia as in­dus­trial gi­ant.

“Nige­ria has a lot to gain by strength­en­ing and deep­en­ing its diplo­matic ties with In­dia ed­u­ca­tion­ally, sci­en­tif­i­cally, cul­tur­ally and mil­i­tar­ily.

“In­dia and Nige­ria have co­op­er­ated in the fields of defence and ed­u­ca­tion. Nige­ria’s Na­tional Defence Academy and Naval Col­lege were built with help from In­dia, and be­tween 1963 and 1986 In­dia con­trib­uted to the sup­port of the Nige­rian armed forces.

“In­dia al­ready has nu­clear power. Though I’m not say­ing we should go nu­clear but nu­clear tech­nol­ogy can be used for power tech­nol­ogy which is a ma­jor chal­lenge in Nige­ria. Ed­u­ca­tion­ally, there is a lot we can gain in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy most es­pe­cially in the area of satel­lite tech­nol­ogy.

“The pres­i­dent, as a former mil­i­tary of­fi­cers and head of state, must have had in­ter­ac­tion with the In­dian mil­i­tary be­fore and those cour­ses he had at­tended in In­dia while in the Nige­rian mil­i­tary will go a long way in strength­en­ing our bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. And as we go to­wards fight­ing ter­ror­ism and in­sur­gency, In­dian ex­pe­ri­ence will be ben­e­fi­cial to Nige­ria, be­cause the mil­i­tary of In­dia is very strong.”

Photo: State House

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari (right), presents a gift to Gen. Vi­jay Ku­mar Singh, dur­ing his meet­ing with Gen. Singh and some of his se­nior Alumni, dur­ing the 3rd In­dia-Africa Fo­rum Sum­mit, in New Delhi, In­dia yes­ter­day.

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