It is a pleasure be back to the grounds of this great citadel, University of Oxford.
Today, I will speak briefly and then interact with you on “Trends and Prospects of Nigeria’s Economy: Broader implications For Africa’s Development.”
You will no doubt have heard the name Nigeria mentioned with various superlatives: the world’s most populous Black Country with a population of over 217 million; Africa’s largest economy, and a significant trading partner with the United Kingdom.
Nigeria, indeed is a large and prosperous nation. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Nigeria the world’s 27th largest economy in the world. That is significant, but here is the reality. Nigeria is also a challenged country.
In February 2023 She will hold her next presidential elections; in doing that she will like the U.S. canvass for electoral legitimacy, that will hopefully translate to governance legitimacy. We are involved in that process.
Our primary goal is to enhance government performance legitimacy and reform the machinery of government. Nigeria and the UK are historically linked by democratic values, and by global trade and commerce; and inextricably so, by the global supply chain.
While we don’t expect that Nigeria will always remain the centre of U.K. Strategic engagement in Africa, we envisage that for long she will enjoy a prominent status in geopolitical and geostrategic consideration.
Nigeria remains a key member of the Commonwealth. A United, secure, stable and productive Nigeria, is of great interest to the U.K. Given her historical leadership role in west Africa and Africa as a whole. Her role remains vital to U.K strategic interest in Africa.
Nigeria-UK collaboration and constructive engagement in and era of globalization is anchored on three main policy areas : trade and investment, economic assistance through a variety of instruments; collective security and humanitarian support.
From my vantage position, I believe U.K’s long interest and support for Africa should transcend the promotion of democracy, and include a broad range of economic related issues, in particular support for Africa continental free Trade Area.
Current outlook, Nigeria the U.K. and many other countries were adversely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic in the post – pandemic period, the so called recovery mode and economic recovery, Nigeria is showing discernible she strength on the back of services and agriculture, with GDP growth reaching 3.6% year on year in the first quarter of 2022. While Nigeria is dealing with inflation like so many countries right now, we have a healthy economic report card and look to more prosperous times ahead, given the country’s huge growth potential.
But we must have peaceful ad credible elections to sustain the required stability for growth. But investor interest is increasingly motivated by other opportunities that we offer, notably in agribusiness (Nigeria and the 52 other African nations are home to 65% of the world’s arable land), in infrastructure and manufacturing, in technology, and the production of consumer goods. Of course, we want this investment because this is what will help us create jobs, strengthen our economy even further and improve the quality of life of our people. It is also good business sense for investors. Africa is the last frontier for smart investors and Nigeria offers some of the largest investment opportunities.
Nigeria is poised to lead African countries as we leverage more private funds to meet our continent’s infrastructure financing needs. Those needs are estimated to be between $68 billion and $108 billion annually.
Accordingly, we anticipate opportunities for leveraging more private capital to finance regenerative infrastructure projects—as part of public-private partnership. Availability of such funds will help free public funds to projects shunned by the private sector.
In the face of all these challenges, though, the UK remains one the largest foreign investor in Nigeria today, those UK firm conversant with Nigeria, understand, despite some reservations, that Nigeria has a large and growing consumer market.
My administration, when I am elected President of Nigeria, will make sure that we do everything to sustain these crucial investment inflows. I do not like to talk much about Nigeria’s “potential” because ‘potential’ is a word that we have come to over use.
We should have long reaped the fruits of that potential by now if we had had the serious leadership commitment to do so. That said; let me say that Nigeria does have the potential to be a key exporter of agricultural produce to the world.
My country—richly endowed with God-given resources—has over 84 million hectares of arable land. To put this in geographical context, Nigeria’s arable land is larger than the entire land mass of Turkey. And barely 40% of this arable land is cultivated today.
Nigeria’s arable land is her new oil and gold. The Obi-Datti administration, from its inception will continue to encourage investment in infrastructure – energy, transport, irrigation, and telecoms—to grow these and other sectors. We are eager to quickly close the infrastructure gap between now and 2030. That is the Nigeria and the Africa that we want by the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals target year.
That is the Africa we want by our own African Union 2063 framework. Nigeria will remain a highly valued contributor to the global economy. We will invest in security, in diplomacy, and in economic engagement with our partners like the UK and other democratic nations.
With the kind of reforms that my government will make, we will ensure that investment—both domestic and foreign—will grow our agriculture sector to feed Nigerians and the wider world.
My last points could easily have been my first, but I preferred not to lead with them. It is the issue of corruption and investment protection. It is no secret that corruption has been endemic and one of the biggest obstacles to our economic progress in Nigeria.
We are not proud of this, and my administration, when we come in, will tackle this challenge head on. We will have zero tolerance for corruption. You can expect a sledgehammer approach.
We look forward to the international community supporting Nigeria’s efforts to promote economic growth and social inclusion; to our boldly tackling corruption from its roots.
Furthermore, we will enforce the legal framework protecting foreign investors and their indigenous partners. This is the only way to tamper capital flight.
I thank you for your kind attention