Nigerians in the United States of America have expressed readiness to invest in Nigeria if the government would provide an enabling environment that would make businesses thrive.
They gave the assurance to President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting held in New York on Friday.
Nigerian professionals in the United states were hosted to a private meeting with the President to discuss how best to bring in their skills and expertise for the development of their home country.
The meeting, which held on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly had in attendance Nigerian professionals who have distinguished themselves in their various careers across the U.S.
They converged from different parts of the United States of America, top rate professionals all, Nigerians whom Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters and International Relations, described as “15 of the best people God ever created.”
How Nigeria Got Into Trouble
Top flight aeronautics engineers, physicians, I.T. experts, a Judge, a top policewoman, entrepreneurs, an Import Specialist at Customs and Border Protection, professors, two straight A students and many others.
The parley provided President Buhari an opportunity to bring them up to speed on how and why Nigeria got into trouble, with an assurance that with all hands on deck, including the best brains in the Diaspora, the country would bounce back in the shortest possible time.
I am very pleased with this meeting,” President Buhari stated. “Wherever you go in the world, you find highly competent and outstanding Nigerians.
“They not only make great impact on their host countries and communities, their financial remittances back home also help our economy, particularly at a time like this, when things are down.
“We got into trouble as a country, because we did not save for the rainy day. For example, between 1999 and 2015, when we produced an average of 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, and oil prices stood at an average of $100 per barrel, we did not save, neither did we develop infrastructure. Suddenly, when we came in 2015, oil prices fell to about 30 dollars per barrel.
I asked; where are the savings? There were none. Where are the railways? The roads? Power? None. I further asked; what did we do with billions of dollars that we made over the years? They said we bought food. Food with billions of dollars? I did not believe, and still do not believe.
“In most parts of Nigeria, we eat what we grow. People in the South eat tubers, those in the North eat grains, which they plant, and those constitute over 60 per cent of what we eat. So, where did the billions of dollars go?
“We did a lot of damage to ourselves by not developing infrastructure when we had the money.
“Talking of our military, they earned respect serving in places like Burma, Zaire, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra-Leone, and then, suddenly, that same military could no longer secure 14 out of 774 local governments in the country. Insurgents had seized them, calling them some sort of caliphate, and planting their flags there; till we came, and scattered them.
“We raised the morale of our military, changed the leadership, re-equipped and retrained them; USA, Britain, and some other countries helped us, and today, the pride of our military is restored.
President Buhari further told them that his administration was working on a government structure that would effectively engage their skills and expertise.
He agreed that distinguished Nigerians in the diaspora had a role to play in Nigeria’s development, promising to provide a conducive environment for them to thrive.
“I assure you that we are trying to be systematic in the government to organise the government properly.
“When we do that, we will get the ministries to function and we will need quality people to come along and help it to move fast,” President Buhari told the gathering.
Also at the meeting was a Senior Special Adviser to the President on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa. She said that the government would continue to engage Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora for the benefit of the country.
“Today, we met Nigerians who are willing and ready to bring back foreign-direct investments to Nigeria.
“Whatever stumbling blocks, we are looking into such stumbling blocks, but the passion is there.
“The desire is there and they are saying, we want to come home,” she told Channels Television.
All the Nigerian professionals pledged to contribute their quota towards re-launching their fatherland to a new dawn.
They assured the President of their support and willingness to come and offer their services to Nigeria like they do in the U.S.
For some of the professionals at the meeting there is no better time to return home than now.
“The determination to have structure in place, I think it will be encouraging for some of us in the diaspora to come back and participate because that is the structure we know here that we are used to,” one of those at the meeting said.
There are many Nigerian professional in the United States and around the world and leveraging on their expertise would be a boost for the nation in economic recession.
Enabling Business Environment
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday assured a large gathering of political and business leaders from the United States, Africa and other regions of the world that Nigeria would soon be one of the most attractive places to invest.
This was at the Second United States-Africa Business Forum in the New York, organised by the United States Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
He also told them that his administration had embarked on significant economic reforms to realise that goal.
The Nigerian leader said that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, would soon come out with wide-ranging business environment reforms on ports, visa-on arrival, improving the speed and efficiency of land titling and business registration.
Asides the economy, President Buhari has also shown commitment to environmental issues on the African continent as he signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Thursday.
He said that his signing of the agreement had demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to a global effort to reverse the effects of the negative trend.