Visit of world leaders: we want to see benefits - Nigerians
Nigeria was recently flooded with visits by world leaders. Just before leaving for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, in Beijing, China, last week, President Muhammadu Buhari hosted the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Although such visits are usually based on issues of mutual cooperation, the suspicion that they could be hijacked by the visiting leaders to lure Nigeria into lopsided agreements has prompted some Abuja residents, who spoke to Williams ABAH and David LAWANI to task the government to maximize such opportunities for the benefit of the country. Excerpts:
CLEMS OHA: It’s normal for countries with common interest to visit each other. But it is also important for host countries to assess the mutual benefits derivable from such visits.
In most cases, such visits are purely for mutual benefits. However, because of the kind of foreign policies we have, our country is seen as a dumping ground. Look at the untapped resources we have in Agriculture, tourism, solid minerals and others. Yet we don't have a well-established framework to boost our economy.
Most of these developed countries visit Nigeria because they know that we don't have the technical know-how to develop our economy. Look at our oil industries. Do you know how much those countries refining our crude oil are gaining from Nigeria? They make a lot of money from us and use it to develop their economy.
I think the government needs to take a critical look at the economy before engaging on any bilateral agreement with any country for business. As we speak, Nigeria is the economic hub of Africa. Like I said earlier, there is need for the government to strengthen our foreign policy so that we will not be used as a dumping ground for foreign goods.
BEN UKA: Most of the world leaders you see coming into Nigeria came to establish genuine business relationship with the country. But our problem is the lack of enabling environment that will attract them to invest in the country.
Look at power sector. A situation where there is no adequate power supply, how do you expect foreign investors to see it as a lucrative area for business? It doesn't work that way. Most foreign companies liquidate after few years of operation.
For me, we don't even need to dissipate our energy on signing trade agreements, the government should go back to the drawing board and design a well economic blueprint to address all economic challenges in the country.
HASSAN MUHAMMED: The visit of world leaders into the country is an evidence that Nigeria is good for investment. Since this government came into power, it has made positive efforts in the area of foreign relations. Few days ago, the president was in China to engage them on how to develop the critical sectors of the economy.
For me, their frequent visit to Nigeria will further strengthen the bilateral relations we have with other countries. Insecurity is a serious challenge facing the growth of our economy, but the President has done quite well to bring it under control.
You can see that within three years of this administration, militancy in the Niger delta, where oil workers were kidnapped is no longer there. Oil bunkering by the militants has been brought under control. These are the major areas that attract investors. Most of these diplomatic trips were a pointer to the reality of Nigeria’s situation, in terms of business friendly environment.
I think we are making a headway for a better Nigeria. I want to appeal that there is need for the government to build confidence in such a way that it will attract more investors into the country.
GOMINA SUNDAY: World leaders’ visits have so many benefits, but only if a country waiting to receive such world leaders gets its priorities right. While visiting they expect that you should be able to have a say on topical issues affecting your people. Those fundamental things that government cannot do alone except through collaboration and partnership are easily attended to.
We are aware that some of these visits can change a lot of things if they are well tailored to address areas needing attention. Here policy issues are discussed and its benefits are fine-tuned properly. The visit of Bill Clinton to Nigeria casted Nigeria in good light in the international community. It showed Nigeria was getting set to accept its role as a force in sub-Saharan Africa.
ELIJAH UGOCHUKWU: World leaders’ visit to hear and feel the pulse of their host countries. Countries around the world look forward to such visits and make adequate preparations for them.
I can recall when the German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited. There was some bilateral agreements that were signed by them as a way of assisting Nigeria to come on board some of its challenging economic crisis. It is one visit no nation or country can do without.
Nations across the world are interdependent and therefore the necessity for affinity and synergy for better and sustainable promotion of values.
ONIMISI: Much of what is expected from world leaders are a far cry from what we see with respect to countries still in crisis and suffering epidemics such as the dreaded Ebola. More efforts should be made to ensure that such visits have direct impact on their host countries.
I like to say in my honest opinion that much of the challenges faced by countries in Africa are yet to receive due attention from these leaders. Most of their visits are informed by the economic policies of their counties.
Some even come to represent their state in order to further their program. They wield enormous powers that they can turn things around for good or bad. I can recall too that through their views, many vital decisions have been taken and actions implemented. Through their visits, they have also intervened on political issues of their host countries.