Many Nigerian representatives were absent at an investment programme organised by the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC on Saturday.
The government officials, who were supposed to have sessions at the event, were conspicuously absent, raising worries that Nigeria might lose investment opportunities by their absence.
Daily Trust reports that officials who were billed to have sessions at the programme but were absent include the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kwachukwu; Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi; and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah,
Speaking to journalists at the programme on Saturday, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido, expressed displeasure at the absence of government officials at the meeting.
He said, “For the person sitting in London and who has a billion dollars to invest, he’s got Nigeria, he’s got Ghana, he’s got Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa. You may be the biggest economy, but he may decide that rather than go through the hassle of investing $500 million in nigeria, why not put $100 million in Ghana, $100 million in Rwanda, $100 million in Cote d’Ivore, just to have diversification benefit and the benefit of reaching out.
“We had a meeting today with investors, we were supposed to start by 9am we started at 10. When I came in they took me to the ambassador’s office to sit down, when investors were waiting down there. We had a list of people who were to be here, vice president, ministers, some of them are in town, but they haven’t come up.”
Mr Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said the ministers’ absence was not good for Nigeria’s efforts to attract investment opportunities into the country.
The emir said: “You invite top investors, your ministers are in Washington and they do not come to talk to the investors about Nigeria. That is not how you attract investors. If you have this forum in the Rwandan embassy, I assure you President Kagame himself would be there telling people to come to Rwanda.
“Sometimes it is about how we market ourselves, how we package ourselves. There is absolutely no reason for the Nigerian embassy to arrange a Nigeria is open for Business forum with ministers in town, with governors in town and not have the coordination that they are actually here to meet with these investors.
“There is no reason why we should start one hour late, and there is no reason why the public address system should not work. Because at the end of the day, this is the first point of the country, he hasn’t even come to Nigeria so what will be his experience in Abuja and he is saying if I am having this experience in Washington, what will happen when I go to Abuja, when I go to Kano, how do I get to see the governor will it take me 10 hours?”
Daily Trust reports that the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Ameachi, whose name did not appear on the itinerary, appeared briefly at the meeting but disappeared after a few minutes.
The event had in attendance Wilbur Ross, United State Secretary of Commerce; Sergio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President ( Middle East and Africa); C.D Glin, President and CEO, U.S African Development Foundation ((USADF), among others.