President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that some of the policies his government will implement may hurt operations of some businesses in the short term, but added that those measures were right for a sustainable economy.
Speaking in New Delhi yesterday during an interactive session with Chief Executives of Indian companies with interests in Nigeria, President Buhari listed some of the measures to include tight expenditure controls, effective fiscal and monetary policies and “husbandry” of scarce resources. Buhari is in India for the 3rd India-Africa summit.
He said with abundance of human and material resources, the Nigerian economy did not have to suffer unduly from low oil prices despite its severe impact on government revenues.
“What is required of us, to which we are strongly committed, is the implementation of tight expenditure controls, effective fiscal and monetary policies, including the husbandry of scarce resources which our introduction of the Treasury Single Account has begun to address.
“We are aware some of these measures may hurt operations of some businesses in the short term, but we believe they are right for a sustainable economy”.
The president assured that despite the fall in oil prices, his administration remained fully committed to maintaining macro-economic stability and improving investors’ confidence in Nigeria.
Buhari, who noted that India had been a dependable ally and friend of Nigeria, urged the chief executives to expand their companies’ investments in Nigeria “so that we can, together, turn our engagements into a win-win situation for our two countries”.
The president also urged the Indian CEOs to accept the changes in policy being introduced by his administration and observe all extant Nigerian laws in running their business in Nigeria.
Buhari emphatically warned that his government would not tolerate the importation of sub-standard goods, especially foods and medicines, into Nigeria.
“We can increase and diversify the current volume of our bilateral trade beyond US$16.36 billion, and diversify to other critical sectors such as agriculture; green technologies in power generation; infrastructure; information and communications technologies; the services sector; education; industry, especially textiles and solid minerals among others,” Buhari said.
‘We will recover looted funds’
While addressing the Nigerian community in India yesterday, Buhari reiterated the determination of his administration to fight corruption, plug loopholes in public sector accounting and use Nigeria’s scarce resources for the benefit of all Nigerians.
He said the recovery of looted funds and prosecution of indicted persons will be vigorously pursued.
“The anti-corruption campaign will be on-going for many years. We are committed to the enthronement of good governance that plugs the loopholes in public sector accounting, and the use of scarce resources for public good.
“In the meantime, we will continue to prosecute those who have been indicted for corrupt practices and ensure that stolen funds are recovered, to serve as deterrence to others who nurse the ambition of seeking public office solely for illegal personal gain,” Buhari said.
He added that “we shall do our best to fix the economy, create jobs for the teeming population of our youth and make the home environment safe, secure and more attractive to Nigerians outside the country like your good selves.”
On insurgency, the president said “We are also taking steps to address criminality across the country. We are tackling the menace of terrorism posed by Boko Haram head on and I am pleased to note that though sporadic attacks on soft targets have not stopped, the over-all capacity of Boko Haram to hold territory and determine the course of the conflict has been severely degraded.
“If the current positive trends are maintained, we are confident that by the end of this year, we would have succeeded in permanently turning the tide against the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria,” he said.
India as Nigeria’s biggest oil buyer
Daily Trust reports that India, last year, replaced the United States of America as the biggest buyer of Nigerian oil. The NNPC 2014 Annual Statistical Bulletin indicated that India bought 136,419,844 barrels of crude oil, at a time when the United States’ own purchases from Nigeria was 24,047,758.
India imported nearly 27 percent more African crude in April-September, mainly from Angola and Nigeria, Reuters reported yesterday, just as it said that Iraq also overtook Saudi Arabia as the top crude exporter to India in September for the third time in 2015, citing tanker data it obtained.
In 2014, Nigerian exports to India reached $15.66 billion, of which nearly 99% was oil. India exported only $2.88 billion in goods to Nigeria.
Recently, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria,Ajjampur R. Ghanashyam, said India has the potential of importing $50 billion worth of crude oil from Nigeria. “We can buy more because our requirement is going up.”
A stakeholder in the oil and gas industry Yakubu Saidu said India seemed keen in buying oil from Nigeria because “our crude is light and easy to refine. I believe this is one issue that will dominate part of the discussion between the Nigerian delegation led by President Buhari and the Indian government, including businessmen.”
Daily Trust also reports that an Indian diplomat in Abuja recently said that oil remains India’s perceived vital interest in the relationship.
Experts say that India also wants to ensure it is not completely overshadowed on the continent by its neighbor and rival, China, in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, and Indian Oil Corporation Limited are among few Indian oil companies that have participated in mostly downstream of Nigeria oil sector but Chinese firms have landed the big engineering and construction deals elsewhere across Africa and have a much larger role in oil exploration and production.
Much of the Indian presence is indirect with specific reference to the Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Company, a petrochemical plant owned by the Indians.
India insists its engagement with Africa has nothing to do with China. But it is believed that New Delhi is clearly concerned about Beijing’s increasing clout on the continent.
India, Nigeria have come a long way
Ambassador Chive Kaave, former Nigerian Ambassador to Argentina, said “Though Nigeria and India have come a long way in the international arena, we still have a lot to gain from India. India is a very strong partner in the international arena, no longer can be described third world. Indeed like Singapore, I can describe India as industrial giant.
“Nigeria has a lot to gain by strengthening and deepening its diplomatic ties with India educationally, scientifically, culturally and militarily.
“India and Nigeria have cooperated in the fields of defence and education. Nigeria’s National Defence Academy and Naval College were built with help from India, and between 1963 and 1986 India contributed to the support of the Nigerian armed forces.
“India already has nuclear power. Though I’m not saying we should go nuclear but nuclear technology can be used for power technology which is a major challenge in Nigeria. Educationally, there is a lot we can gain in science and technology most especially in the area of satellite technology.
“The president, as a former military officers and head of state, must have had interaction with the Indian military before and those courses he had attended in India while in the Nigerian military will go a long way in strengthening our bilateral and multilateral relationship. And as we go towards fighting terrorism and insurgency, Indian experience will be beneficial to Nigeria, because the military of India is very strong.”