President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned a call made to potential investors to be wary about investing in Nigeria, describing it as “a wicked proposition lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts.”
Backstory: The call was made to international investors by former Secretary of State for International Development in the United Kingdom (UK), Ms. Priti Patel in an article published on Nov. 19th.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Adviser, Mr. Garba Shehu, President Buhari said Patel’s position is unfounded.
“Her claim to the effect that despite the president’s public anti-corruption platform, Nigeria has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office, trumpeting a so-called Transparency International report is a false fabrication that cannot be supported by the facts on the ground,” he said.
“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was only N2 billion. This account has succeeded in netting over N400 billion today, translating to 1, 360 percent increase. This cannot amount to anything in terms of progress.”
Patel had cited the failure of Nigeria under President Buhari to honor the terms of an agreement with an international company called Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).
In response to her comments on the case, the statement read that: “As for the specific case of the agreement in 2010, between the NNPC and the Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, which appears to be her main issue, a project that fell through after a past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.”
“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute. What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past.”
Why It Matters: The government can make its argument, but the fact remains that it is a problem for any country when consequential voices like that of Patel make cases against it like she did. A prospective investor is more likely to take the opinion of a “neutral” party like her more seriously in making decisions than the opinion of the government especially at a time when the news has reports of foreign investors pulling out of the country. Her point about the FG’s flouting of the position of a London tribunal is not exactly new to Nigerians. Back home, the government has flouted several court order, picking and choosing what to obey. As to the presidency’s position on the corruption war, it is a bit mischievous to use the findings of international organizations when they suit you and then dismiss them when you do not like their findings. The APC cited Transparency International for several years when it was in the opposition, and now that it is in power it suddenly does not find them credible.