By Levinus Nwabughiogu
NAIROBI-President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on unleashing military forces on Niger Delta militants may not have changed 4 months after he stated the position.
Recall that in April this during his visit to China, the president while meeting with the Nigerian community there said that saboteurs and vandals of the oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region would be given the Boko Haram treatment should they continue with their nefarious acts.
He had said: “I ask for your support to make our vision of stamping out corruption a reality in the shortest possible time. Whoever is caught will not be spared. The government is still being dared, but those who are sensible should have learned a lesson. Those who are mad, let them continue in their madness.
“I am aware that in the last two weeks, the national grid collapsed a number of times. I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations. We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram.”
Yet on Saturday night while holding bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi, Kenya, the president made a repeat of the threat.
The development was a way of strongly assuring the existing and prospective foreign investors in Nigeria that their investments were fully secured and protected.
He told the Japanese leader that with the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists by the military, the attention of the administration was now focused on stopping the destruction of the country’s economic assets by militants in the Niger Delta region.
He said the militants must dialogue with the Federal government or be dealt with in the same way like Boko Haram.
“We are talking to some of their leaders. We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram if they refuse to talk to us.
“As a government, we know our responsibility, which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in insecure environments.
“We realize that we have to secure the country before we can efficiently manage it,” the President said.
President Buhari also told Abe that security in the Gulf of Guinea, which he said was being greatly affected by piracy and armed robbery at sea, was a priority for the Nigerian government.
‘‘We have provided funds to our Navy to buy new platforms, train and effectively organize the personnel to protect the area. We are looking forward to support from developed nations for satellite surveillance covering the Gulf,’’ he said.
Recalling his audience with G7 leaders in Germany, which was attended by the Prime Minister, President Buhari thanked Japan for responding positively to the requests by Nigeria for the rehabilitation of victims of Boko Haram and rebuilding of infrastructure in the North Eastern part of the country.
The President however said there was still more to do on education, health and other infrastructure to ensure quick and voluntary return of displaced persons to their native communities.
On the United Nations Security Council reform, President Buhari agreed to work with Japan for the reforms, stressing that the case for a permanent seat for Africa on the Council was a moral one.
He equally expressed Nigeria’s support for Japan in their bid for a UN resolution on the problems in East China and South China as well as the “uncontrolled nuclear tests by North Korea.”
‘‘The UN system is sufficient for the resolutions of all disputes and no nation should be above the United Nations.
“This has to be made absolutely clear and I assure the Prime Minister that I will meet as many leaders as possible at the forthcoming UN General Assembly concerning the issues.”
In his remarks, Prime Minister Abe congratulated President Buhari “for courageously tackling Boko Haram terrorism.”
He said Nigeria and Japan must work together to improve the investment climate in view of the many Japanese companies wishing to invest in Nigeria.
He reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to rapid development in Nigeria through quality delivery of ongoing projects in the country, including Jebba hydro power scheme and the Lagos railway project.
We are creating enabling business climate in Nigeria-Buhari
While making his presentation at the plenary session on “Dialogue with the priave sector” at TICAD, Sunday, the president told Japanese business community that Nigeria’s business environment was not healthy for investors.
He revealed that government has established a Presidential Enabling Environment Council, PEEC and Inter-Miniterial Council to help eliminate some inherent and artificial bottlenecks likely to impede the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
The president hoped that the efforts would move Nigeria from the rating of World Bank’s business index to 20 places in first year to be in the top 100 within the next 3 years.
“One of the most important priorities is to create right and enabling environment for business and investors in Nigeria. Our vision and objective is to make Nigeria one of the most attractive and the easiest places of doing business in the world.
“We believe government has a particular responsibility to create right and attractive environment for businesses and economic activities to thrive.
“In furtherance of this vision, we have launched the Presidential Enabling Environment Council, PEEC and Inter-Miniterial Council to oversee the efforts of government to remove various bottlenecks that stifle businesses and economic activities and thereby create economic activities; thereby create the right enabling environment and investment climate in Nigeria.
“The secretariat will include strong private sector representation that would be led by experienced business professionals from the private sector. We are committed to moving up the rating of the world bank’s ease of doing business index 20 places in first year and be in the top 100 within the next 3 years”, he said.
Nigeria to give more budgetary allocation to Agriculture in 2017
Speaking to Reporters, President assured that the Federal Government would sustain concrete measures to diversify the economy by devoting more resources to agriculture in the 2017 budget.
He also said that African countries had a lot to learn from Japan on developing agriculture.
“This year, in Nigeria, we started an aggressive farming programme that entails organising farmers into cooperatives in the second and third tier of government.
“We intend to put more resources in our 2017 budget, especially in the procurement of machinery for land clearing, fertilizers, pesticides and training of less-educated farmers, as farm extension instructors.
“We have already registered some success this year in a number of states. We identified some 13 states that will be self-sufficient in rice, wheat and grains before the end of 2018.
“We are very positive that soon we will be able to export these food products. We are also lucky that the farming season in the northern part of the country has been very good and we are expecting a bumper harvest this year,’’ the President said.
On his expectation from TICAD, President Buhari said Japan’s story of rapid economic growth, hardwork and advanced technology should encourage Africans to strive harder and solve its development challenges.
“Japan has greatly advanced in technology, particularly in solar power, infrastructure to spur growth in medium and small-scale industries.
“Because of the advanced use of technology, farming and agriculture can become competitive.
“Japan has the knowledge, technology and capital to assist African countries to develop and Japanese firms are in a very good position to successfully compete for the development of infrastructure in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The President also called for increased participation of the Japanese government and the private sector in the Nigerian economy.