The United States Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley has urged Nigeria’s government to urgently address the challenging problems of insecurity, poverty, corruption and create enabling environment to attract genuine investors into the country.
In an address to mark the 236th independence of the United States of America at a special occasion in Abuja Ambassador McCulley said America plans to improve trade relations with Nigeria but warned that Nigeria will become more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors by improving security, the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of contracts, ensuring transparency and accountability and curbing corruption.
He said Nigerians deserve effective and accountable security forces to counter violent extremism as well as a coordinated campaign to deliver economic development.
McCulley said: “Our first president, George Washington, said: ‘A people who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages, may achieve almost anything.’
“I think this applies to Nigeria, as well. Nigerians possess a spirit and a history of commerce. In the north, Kano was a major hub on the trans-Saharan trade routes for centuries, along with Borno and Katsina. People from all over the world came here to buy and sell fabrics, feathers, kola nuts and jewelry. In the south, the empires of Benin and Oyo traded precious metals and ivory with the Portuguese in the 17th century. Nigeria’s fertile lands and vast rivers made for a thriving agricultural industry, producing food to support millions of people, and today, Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is one of the major business capitals in the world.
“I think it is only fitting, then, that the theme of our event is: ‘The U.S. and Nigeria: Building Business Together.’ Both Nigerians and Americans more than understand the importance of commerce, and our nations have established a strong and far-reaching trade partnership that confers advantages to both nations. Nigeria is America’s largest trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa, exporting more goods to the United States than any other country. For our part, the United States wants to increase its exports to Nigeria. Through President Obama’s National Export Initiative, we hope to double overall exports to here by 2015. Our strengthened trade ties have been beneficial for both nations: total U.S.-Nigeria trade rose 467 per cent between 2001 and 2011.”
He said the expected increase in trade relations with the country depends on the right environment being provided.
The ambassador said: “We all know that there is more to be done to improve the climate for trade and investment in Nigeria. President Obama has said that ‘development depends on good governance,’ and Nigeria will become more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors by improving the rule of law. By respecting the sanctity of contracts, and ensuring transparency and accountability, Nigerian and international firms can compete on a level playing field, and all of Nigeria will benefit.”
He added: “Corruption is another impediment to investment, but I am confident the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other authorities will be effective in identifying and prosecuting cases of fraud, thus increasing investor confidence in business opportunities in Nigeria. An active civil society is also absolutely essential in combating corruption, serving as the conscience of the nation and holding elected officials accountable.”