By Merit Ibe

The Federal Government has assured it was tackling the bureaucratic bottlenecks that has been challenging foreign direct  investments (FDIs) in the country.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM),  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, made the remark at a business forum organised by Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Russian Chapter, where she also assured the investors of improved security for investments.

 Dabiri-Erewa emphasised that  Nigeria remains the investment destination for FDIs, pointing out that there was no where in the world without challenges.

She  assured  the business forum that bureaucratic challenges and insecurity were being tackled. “The message is very important because there are lots of opportunities in Nigeria. There are many Nigerians in Russia saying they want to come back home and invest as Russia is also looking to Africa for investment. We have our challenges, there is no doubt about the fact that Nigeria is still a destination for investment.

“There is no where you cannot invest in Nigeria. We are blessed. We are solving bureaucratic challenges to attract investments. We will solve our problems. Insecurity is still a challenge, but it is being tackled.

“The purpose of this event is about telling the world that there are many opportunities for investment in Nigeria. It is for us to sell ourselves and not de-market ourselves”, she added.

She also stated that NIDCOM is currently working with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) to guide investors on investible areas in the country.

On diaspora voting, she said it would start in the next four years,as there is a need to lobby the parliament.

“Every country is doing it and we should not let the world leave us behind when it comes to diaspora voting. It is about making it suit our environment. We will keep begging the parliament because it is their right and of course you know diaspora remittances is huge, but we are still scratching the surface”, she averred.

 Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Abdullahi Shehu, said since the establishment of the Diaspora Commission,  NIDO has become one of the instruments of the nation’s foreign policy.

He noted that one of the objectives of the forum is to explore possibilities of facilitating payments between Nigerian and Russian businesses, expressing hope that the outcome of the event would lead to attracting the financial sector to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with their Russian counterparts to facilitate payment solutions to overcome the challenges of doing business under the geopolitical situation in Russia.

For his part, the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Relations to the Lagos State Governor, Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, said the Lagos State government is Diaspora friendly, as it is the safest city in the country for investment destination.

He stated that state government is always looking for new ways to support new businesses to come to Lagos, saying that through the last Ehingbeti Summit, seven resolutions were developed to encourage diaspora businesses to come back home to invest in the State.

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The Chairman, NIDO Russia, Sampson Uwem-Edimo said the purpose of the event is to make Nigerians living outside Nigeria to understand the need to look back home and try to contribute economically into the country.

He said in 2021, the trade volume between Nigeria and Russia was about $900 million which he described as very low, adding that export from Nigeria to Russia stood to about $37.6 million.

“We want to make Nigerian companies and Nigerians living in Russia cooperate with Nigerians living here, producing agricultural products to ship it directly to Russia to balance the trade”, he said.

He noted that taking into cognisance the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, is a clarion call to nationals in foreign land to always consider investing their property and businesses in their home land.

He said plans are ongoing to organise a Russian trade mission to Nigeria in April, 2023 to showcase an exhibition of Russian products in Nigeria later in September this year.

“We are looking to localise their production in Nigeria or localise parts of their production in Nigeria. The benefit of this for Nigeria is job opportunities, tax for the government to improve the quality of infrastructure in the country.

He urged the federal government to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, saying that the private sector is the driver of any economy.

The Chief Executive Officer, La Cubana Group, Russia, Mr. Gerald Obinadi, said the purpose of the forum was to attract lots of Nigerians in Russia to invest in Nigeria, but added that Nigerian investors in Russia are skeptical about investing in the country due to insecurity and bureaucratic challenges hindering the business community.

“With what we are seeing here today, we will be able to convince a lot of people to come back home to invest in Nigeria. There is no where in the world that is easy to start businesses anywhere in the world. There are challenges everywhere, but we believe Nigeria is still a destination for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Dr Bashiru Obasekola, Continental Chairman, NIDO-Europe, noted the forum was in the country to let Nigerians  know the opportunities available in Russia and Nigeria. 

“What we are doing is part of diversifying the opportunities that Nigerians in Russia have to bring their investments to Nigeria.

“The situation in Nigeria is not a new thing in the world. Other countries of the world have passed through all these challenges. We can make it as a country with good leadership. We can get to the top of economic development, we are optimistic. The challenges of infrastructure, security, economy can be ameliorated if investments are still coming into the country to improve the economy. 

“For us in private initiative, we have been involved in real estate, finance, Fintech, entertainment and agriculture but there are more sectors to be explored, we need government’s  direction and backing.”