This was stated at the weekend by the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, while addressing the Nigeria Conversation programme in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He said that, over the last 14 years since Nigeria returned to democratic governance, the regularity of elections and the expiration of definite tenures of elected officials have produced a class of erstwhile office holders, who have rejoined ordinary citizens without the trappings of power and office.
This, the Information Minister said, has created a more acute sense of the temporariness of public office. That realisation, he noted, was infusing in political office holders a higher sense of public duty. Mr Maku is a former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State.
According to him, the longevity of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy has also impacted the investment climate, which has seen Nigeria emerge as the leading destination for investors in Africa.
“Law-governed society is the basis for growth and development. It is not an accident that in recent years our economy has been growing at an average of about 7 per cent,” the Minister said.
He added: “Political stability as a result of constitutional democracy is a boon to investment, as potential investors can predict governments and their policies, as well as the relative security of their investments.”
Mr Maku also noted other salutary effects of democracy, which include the rapid expansion of economic opportunities through deregulation and other forward-looking policies. “Government is vacating the commanding heights of the economy, and creating the right climate for the private sector to thrive,” he said.
While acknowledging the exponential growth in telephony in the country since 2001, the Minister however said that the new Power Sector Road Map was one of the clearest manifestations of the expansion of the economic space. The huge interest generated in the privatisation of the power sector, he said, reflected confidence in the economy, which would in due course witness stable power supply.
The Information Minister urged Nigerians abroad to take advantage of the immense opportunities at home. “We must think home,” he said. According to him, “Nigeria right now is a goldmine for investors. All the problems you see at the moment, we are converting to investment opportunities through the right policies.”
Mr Maku observed that there was no country, no society, and no individual without problems. “Life itself is a problem to solve. However, we need to be philosophical about problems. If a society takes that view, then challenges can present themselves as opportunities,” he stated.
Noting that the non-oil sector was driving Nigeria’s GDP growth, the Information Minister called the attention of Nigerian living abroad to the many investment opportunities in mining, railways, as well as in the Agriculture Transformation Agenda, which emphasises not only increased primary production but also value-chain development and sustenance.
He informed the audience of the Federal Government’s relentless drive to boost rice production, which would lead to a stoppage of rice importation by 2015. The Minister
also noted the increasing value of locally-produced cassava in the confectionery sub-sector.
To aid their decision-making, the Information Minister urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to access the deluge of information released recently in the course of the Mid-Term Ministerial Platform, as well as the National Good Governance Tour.
Mr Maku expressed the hope that Nigerians abroad would key into the new dynamism back home. “Nigerians have the confidence to compete anywhere they are, because they come from a background of cultural freedom and diversity. Nigeria is a cultural power in the world, a fact that is being beneficially exploited by Nollywood,” the Minister stated.
Earlier, the Nigerian Consul-General in Atlanta, Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, implored friends of Nigeria and Nigerians in the Diaspora to continue to have confidence in the country, because its fundamentals were encouraging.
Also, the Secretary-General of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation—Americas, Chief Gab Okoye, remarked that if Nigerians spent more time seeking solutions to the country’s challenges, rather than bemoaning the state of affairs, the country’s pace of development would be a lot faster.
Chief Okoye also urged manufacturers of Made-in-Nigeria goods not to shy away from identifying Nigeria as the country of origin of their products.
While extolling the Information Minister for the innovation he has introduced in public information management, such as the Ministerial Platform and the National Good Governance Tour, the Chairman, Nigeria Conversation, Mr Blackson Bayewumi, said: “The Nigeria of our dream is not only for Mr President to build; nor is it for Senators, Ministers, or Governors alone to build. It is our collective responsibility.”