I’m extremely pleased that you have the time to come to spend some time with us here.
The truth is that what we are trying to achieve is just exactly what was described by the Honourable Minister who had just spoken; one that addresses specific issues and then we can deal with them with the partners and government through the right people; and that access will be made available. That’s why we have the industrial council. We also have the business forum and would ensure that we are opened at all times.
I think it is important that we emphasise and keep emphasising that the partnership that we are trying to build is a genuine partnership, because we understand that in a big country, especially a federation, many times we have issues, even with the state governments, and we have to be able to resolve them. Some of them are easy to resolve through a phone call, but we insist that those we do business with in Nigeria must find it easy to do business and that really has been the way that we have tried to function, especially in the last two and half years. We intend to maintain that approach and we really would like you to join us in proving that this will work.
Some of the issues that were mentioned (there was a Q & A before the VP spoke) include security, for example. As you can imagine, security is obviously an ongoing issue, but l want to say that, perhaps, for people in the diaspora and if you are following the social media, it might be difficult to appreciate; maybe you have been away too long, maybe you also come back and see for yourselves.
In the country, people are doing business and are doing fine, but that’s not to say there are no herdsmen and farmer clashes and all that, or to say that all is settled down in the North East; but in major places where business is being done, where investments are been done.
But by and large, we should raise (the issue of) adequate security. l think a lot of people are reasonably satisfied with the security, but we are doing all we can to improve on security. A lot of police reforms are going on, we are ramping up even the number of police officers we are recruiting. We are also getting joint task forces, sometimes involving the military in some of these joint task forces, where we think that there might be trouble.
A few months ago, we held a security summit with all of the governors and the service chiefs, where security agencies looked at all of the specific places where there are problems, and tried to identify what the problems could be, especially in areas that people have investments.
In the Niger Delta, I’m sure that you will agree with me that between last year and now, a lot has changed; we still find opportunistic vandalism where people are vandalising properties, but by and large improvements are being made and we are working very hard on ensuring that we sustain that.
It’s possibly more important for us as sole business of government to ensure that people can walk around free and can do their business without looking over their shoulders. Because of our commitment to that, we are reasonably certain that we will achieve maximum security.
I think it was Tony (one of the participants at the Q & A) that said that in many parts of the world there are places that you may not want to go and there are always situations where there are breaches of security. But l think, by and large, we are really focused on ensuring security and most of the country is entirely peaceful and ready for business.
In respect to power, a lot has happened and I just wanted to address that. In power, I’m not going to talk about the issues that have been addressed already, but l think that the critical thing is that we have identified primarily what the issues are and now some of our reforms are going on. We are enabling a situation where industry or private sector and businesses can actually access power on their own without necessarily going through the DISCOs; we have a willing buyer-willing seller arrangement. Recently NERC issued a declaration to that effect.
So we are concentrating also on powering industrial areas, a lot of that is going on and is private sector-driven.
A lot of that has to do with the cost of power etc., and whether or not the cost is adequate, whether the cost is too high or too low and all that.
But what l will want you to do is to take advantage of some of the new regulations, especially in the willing buyer-willing seller that we are putting in place, so that industries can buy their own power and can even develop their own power structure, and even in the states. A lot of the state governments are now investing in power plants. Off-grid power is one of the very critical solutions for us because a lot of the power that is going onto the grid, we are able to take that much. But if that is the solution in Nigeria, we must have plenty of off-grid power opportunities and we are trying to work hard on all of those off-grid power facilities and create an environment where people can invest in power and supply power to those who need it without going through the system that we have at the moment.
So we think that, in the next couple of years, we will have a power situation that will certainly be a lot better than what we are experiencing today.
What we are trying to do is to ensure that we are not constrained by some of the problems that we have been experiencing in the past years, and we let go of the power marketing in such a way that many players can come in to do a lot more from generation to distribution, and especially transmission because we find that that is one of the critical areas for us today.
Transmission and distribution are critical areas for us and we are working very hard to ensure that we are able to do a lot with some of transmission and the distribution assets that we have. l know that a lot of those who are here are converts or at least people who do business and want to continue to do business in Nigeria, l want to thank you for the support you have given us over the years and hope that you will not only maintain that support, but also work with us in being able to create a better business environment and being able to do the kind of businesses that can be done in Nigeria.
There is no question at all as to why our country is a good destination; we know that the critical issue is to ensure that the environment is friendly enough and that we offer the necessary incentives where such incentives are crucial. We are ready to do that and we are ready to work with you to ensure that business is comfortable for you and that you can make profit and create the jobs and opportunities that we are also looking at.
Thank you very much.
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)
Office of the Vice President
January 25, 2018