By Joseph INOKOTONG
The Federal Government will be willing to work with the British authorities to stimulate more direct private sector investments in Nigeria, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has said.
The Minister told a delegation of British government officials led by the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Sushil Patel, at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, that the Nigerian Government is intensifying efforts at ensuring the ease of doing business in the country and would welcome more foreign investments.
Patel and her team are in Nigeria to have an on-the-spot appraisal of the situation in the North East of the country to enable the British Government decide on how to assist the Nigerian Government in addressing the situation in the region as well as other development initiatives.
A statement signed by Mr. Akpandem James, Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister said acknowledging the various interventions by the British Government in aid of the country’s developmental challenges, the Minister said that although Nigeria would appreciate more foreign aid from the British Government, it would be looking more in the area of investments from companies in that country coming into Nigeria.
He explained government’s efforts towards ensuring ease of doing business and particularly mentioned the creation of industrial hubs in the six geo-political zones of the country that will have all the basic infrastructural facilities required for manufacturing to thrive smoothly.
The British authorities, he said, could help in encouraging manufacturers in the United Kingdom to outsource some of their productions to Nigeria and take advantage of the special economic zones.
The Minister said that the Nigerian government is committed to creating a successful economy pointing out that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) launched early this year is meant to serve as a vehicle to drive government’s diversification policy.
Senator Udoma said the Federal Government had constituted an Inter-ministerial Task Force (IMTF) under the Chairmanship of the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning to properly handle and coordinate humanitarian assistance efforts to the North East to ensure proper delivery and effective utilization of funds and materials.
Patel assured that the British Government will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Nigeria in addressing its humanitarian and developmental challenges, “as Nigeria’s success is Britain’s success too.”
She said Nigeria is DFID’s second largest financial aid programme in the world which shows the commitment of the British authorities in assisting in the country’s development efforts as she also spoke of continued efforts to work together to resolve the country’s challenges in a more structured way.
The Secretary of State said her team will discuss further with Nigerian authorities to look at more proactive ways of dealing with the fallouts of the North East crisis, as well as what more could be done in the areas of investment in education, international partnerships, capacity building, scaling up of farming in the local communities among other development issues.