1. It gives me great pleasure to be here at the Singapore Business Forum today. I sincerely appreciate this unique opportunity to address this vibrant Business community, especially at this time, when the Nigerian Government has decided the importance of harnessing all investment opportunities in Nigeria.
2. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the fall in oil price and the reduction in the volume of oil production in Nigeria due to the activities of dissidents in the Niger delta, has led to a drastic reduction in our exports and our foreign exchange earnings. This has led us into a situation where we know that to survive as a nation, we need to diversify our economy and encourage exports.
3. The signing of the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) today is therefore for us, one of many steps in the right direction. IPPAs are International agreements between governments for the promotion and protection of investment made by investors of one contracting party in territory of the other contracting party, which in this case is Nigeria and Singapore.
4. This agreement provides for, among others fair and equitable treatment for investors, compensation for losses arising from strife and expropriation, free transfer of investments and returns, and settlement of investment disputes under internationally accepted rules.
5. Although there have been trade between Nigeria to Singapore, especially in commodities like soya beans, sesame seeds, groundnuts, cashew nuts, co¬coa and some precious stones, for some time, We have come to the conclusion that we need to do more that selling of our commodities in their raw state. We need to go into value addition before exporting. This we believe will lead to job creation and better value for our exports, as well as improve our economy
6. To achieve this, steps have to be taken to attract investment into Nigeria and to ensure that the investments are protected.
7. The signing of the Nigeria – Singapore IPPA today therefore, I hope will give you additional assurance that when you invest in Nigeria, your investments will be adequately protected.
8. Presently, there is one functional Bilateral Agreement between Nigeria and Singapore, the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) for Cargo Services which commenced in 2012. The signing of the IPPA is therefore the second phase of agreements which we hope will be beneficial to both nations. It is our hope that once the IPPA is ratified and in effect, it will serve to build a better and more sustainable business and investment relationship between our countries.
9. It is important to note that the Nigerian government on account of the challenges earlier mentioned is more determined than EVER before to diversify the economy. We have decided to see this as an opportunity to correct the imbalance and re-engineer our revenue base.
10. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to ensuring security and good governance in Nigeria as part of the ingredients for economic growth and stability. In addition, our government is taking a number of measures to revive and diversify the Nigeria economy, These include:
the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan
improving our business climate to make it easy to do business in Nigeria
building our infrastructures
promoting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for inclusive growth,
trade facilitation for exports; and
massive attraction of both local and foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.
11. Hitherto, Nigeria was a difficult place to do business. This is duly reflected in the recent World Bank doing business ranking where Nigeria was ranked 169th out of 190 nations. However, Nigeria in tandem with increasing the level of engagements and leveraging on the renewed confidence of the international community to convert our comparative advantage into competitiveness has taken a bold step in setting up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and charged it with the responsibility of:
i. Reducing the cost of doing business in Nigeria; and
ii. Removing the impediments and binding constraints that are affecting the smooth operation of business such as:
Entry and exit processes – Visa can now be issued to investors on arrival in Nigeria
Lowering the cost of business registrations and reducing time and simplifying the procedures for registration
Enhancing and expanding trade across borders
Reviewing and simplifying land and property registration procedures
Simplifying and facilitating access to capital
Facilitating the transparency and digitalization of operations of government agencies
12. However, beyond the institution of a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the government has also maintained a sustainable growth trajectory which is centered on a tripod of – Curbing Corruption, Enhancing Security and Promoting Sustainable Economic Growth.
13. The federal government of Nigeria having realized that education, vocational training and lifelong learning are central pillars of employment and sustainable enterprise development has introduced the broader educational curriculum at primary, secondary and tertiary levels to accommodate skills and entrepreneurship development with concentration or emphasis given to Nigerian graduates on Technical & Vocational education and training during their compulsory One year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme.
14. The government has also embarked on new investment promotion initiatives through the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) launched in 2012, under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, which provides a strategic and integrated roadmap towards industrialization. NIRP provides an actionable plan across three sectors: agro-allied, solid minerals and oil and gas-related industries, where Nigeria’s comparative and competitive advantage is apparent. We intend to build on this plan, reviewing and updating, based on current realities while focused on pragmatic implementation and adapting new measures as we forge ahead.
15. It is pertinent to also note that, the government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); an agency of the federal government with the mandate to promote, coordinate and supervise all investments in Nigeria has taken into consideration, the need to establish a “One Stop Investment Centre” (OSIC) aimed at streamlining registration and acquisition procedures for investors.
16. We are also reviewing existing tax systems in other to avoid multiple taxation and to also provide investment incentives to both local and foreign investors.
17. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also a known fact that previously, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nigeria was obstructed by minimum capital requirements and indigenous ownership thresholds (of up to 40 per cent in some cases), however it is important to note that the government has currently removed such restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses in Nigeria, except for limited circumstances. 100% ownership of foreign businesses is now possible in Nigeria.
18. I therefore urge you all to take advantage of the various windows of opportunities in the country and invest in all sectors of our economy.
19. I thank you very much for listening & God bless you all.