BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, AMSTERDAM
Two Chief Executives of Dutch companies have urged the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to urgently inject the funds recovered from corrupt former government officials into the local economy, saying it is the only way to boost the economy.
They also decried the country’s foreign exchange policy, lamenting that it is making it almost impossible for business men in Nigeria to import goods due to delays in transfer of funds to foreign countries. The situation, according to them, is discouraging potential investors in Nigeria.
Nol Van Vliet, the Managing Director of Van Vliet Trucks Holland BV, producers of heavy duty trucks and luxury vehicles, and Christiaan Dekker, Executive Director of Dekker BV, producers of dredging equipment, Swamp Buggy, made this disclosure in an interactive section with Sunday Vanguard in Netherlands.
Said Dekker, who claimed he was a core investor in Nigeria until recent government policies affected businesses, “It is not difficult to do business in Nigeria because we have the right equipment, we have the same soil and we have bulldozers for the swampy areas and we have dredging equipment. We know how Nigerians work and do business and we have been doing well with them.
“But payments are getting very slow and that is a pity. Customers in Nigeria give down payments but, most times, they have to wait for months to get the final payment and, sometimes, if they are not able to pay due to the situation there, we sell the equipment to other buyers. And I think it is not good for us and it is also not good for our customers in Nigeria who come to purchase machines.
“For the dredging equipment and machines, I think the Federal Government should encourage the Central Bank of Nigeria to transfer funds for the purchase because with these equipment they will make money, they will create employment for Nigerians and that is helping the economy.
“The Nigerian government must ensure security, infrastructure and transparency to encourage us more to come and do business in Nigeria. We are glad with the way President Buhari is fighting corruption. Corruption is affecting everybody, both the rich and the poor in Nigeria and foreigners. And it is also affecting the Nigerian economy and that is why we are applauding what the Federal Government is doing.
“Again, we are encouraging the international community to help the President Buhari’s administration to get the stolen funds back to Nigeria. They should be transparent; they should look at the bank accounts of suspected looters and monitor the flow of cash. We are happy with what the government is doing but the only thing we want the Federal Government of Nigeria to do is to inject the money they recovered from looters into the economy.
“They have recovered billions of dollars from looters but they are not injecting it into the economy and that is affecting the economy. You must inject the money into the local economy to boost it otherwise the entire war against corruption is rubbish. There is no need going after these people when you don’t spend the money you have recovered to grow the economy.
“With transparency and good policies, foreign investors will come to Nigeria. They must run the local governments, the states transparently as it is done in Europe; that is the only way to ensure accelerated growth. For instance, in Holland, we have the middle class and I am sure that is what Nigerians want. Everybody is looking for big money; don’t look for big money, just be satisfied with good living. Nigerian big men love to come to Europe, they love to go to America but they must bring those things they see in Europe back to Nigeria.
“We are glad that Comrade Sunny Ofehe who is a Nigerian based here intends to run for the governorship of Delta State. The good thing is that Sunny is now part of the European system; so we believe that he can replicate what he has experienced here in Europe in Nigeria if he is elected governor”.
Nol Van Vliet said he was in Lagos and Abuja about ten years ago, describing Nigeria as a very nice country with a lot of opportunities. “I like to work with Nigerian people. We are interested in transport, road construction, oil and gas but in the last two years, our businesses in Nigeria have been down and I hope we can start again. We had a lot of businesses in Abuja and Lagos particularly in the supply of our trucks and we wish we can continue to do that”, he said.
“I think we can help Nigeria on the problems they have in transportation and road construction. The biggest problem we have found out is payment from Nigeria in the past two years. People are not able to transfer funds to Europe and that became a big problem to us and for Nigerian businesses.
“We advise the government to make payments easier because there are companies which can give them the best but they cannot come due to the problem in payment. This is hindering investors from coming to Nigeria and that is not good. We have a lot of jobs that can help build the Nigerian economy. For instance when we go to any country, we set up workshops and we send our people to go and train the local people.
“That creates employment opportunities and also improves the manpower which is very important for the growth of any economy. And we also build schools, training centres, ensure we have power. When we train the locals they help to train others and you have more people with skills and that is what Nigeria needs now.”