Thu, Sep

Govs' German trip: Beyond the 'jamboree narrative'

Six Nigerian governors left the shores of the land on July 26th to embark on an official trip to Germany. It was a three hardworking days trip but the hoopla that accompa­nied the trip, especially from concerned Nigerians, who feared that wads of the Nige­rian Naira were going down the drains were deafening. It was understandable. Most of the critics argued that the trip would yield no good for the country, and especially the states from where these gov­ernors derive the resources to travel.

This was compounded by some media report that the governors were undergoing vocational training, a sugges­tion which, to most of the gov­ernors, who are accomplished in their chosen endeavors, is most laughable. Particu­larly, Governor Abdulfatah of Kwara State, who was not part of the delegation, called the NGF Secretariat to query the mission or how it was report­ed, which gives the impression that Nigerians are now more sensitive, than ever before, about how their resources are handled.
But the trip came about as a result of a presentation by the German Ambassador to Nige­ria at the July 17 NGF meeting where he showcased several areas that Nigeria could rely on to diversify its economy, now that the country’s over-dependence on oil has proved, so predictably, to be more of a curse than a blessing.
The six governors that made the trip include Darius Dick­son, Taraba State, Kashim Shettima, Borno, Ayade Bene­dict, Cross River, Dave Uma­hi, Ebonyi, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Fo­rum Abdulaziz Yari Abuba­kar of Zamfara State. Benue State was represented by the governor’s Special Adviser on the diaspora, Kebbi sent its Finance Commissioner while Niger State delegated a mem­ber of its House of Assembly on the mission.
135 German companies participated in the invest­ment partnership drive. They include BEAR Technology GmBH, Aqua Consult In­genieur, Deula-Nienburg, SUNZILLA Green Energy, Solar-und Windtech, CTS Automotive, MOBISOL, Tecknische Univeristet Ber­lin, Deutche Infrastructure, BVMW, Deutschtec, Sun­farming GmBH, R-Biopharm AG, Zell & Co and Heller Tools among several others.
Ambassadors of other Afri­can countries resident in Ber­lin like those of the DRC, Ma­dame Clementine Shakembo, Florence Isabelle of Mada­gascar, Marmo Phillips, Tan­zania, Nchama Maylboro of Equatorial Guinea also seized the opportunity to attend the meeting due to its importance to their countries’ economies. Out of these, twenty-five companies had by the end of the mission indicated their willingness to invest in Nige­ria. They are expected in the country to sign MOUs and make further arrangements towards the take-off of their projects between 4th and 8th of October this year.
However, the relevance of the presence of the governors on the trip cannot be allowed to simply evaporate. Cross Rivers Governor Ayade sum­marily declared a one-stop-shop by asking the investors in whose capacities he was in­terested to, without much ado, return with him to Nigeria to commence the implementa­tion of their agreed programs on alternative energy in his state.
Apart from the immedi­ate benefits that could accrue to the mission, another thing that made the governors’ presence absolutely impera­tive is the reputation that Ni­gerians have acquired in the eyes of the world. That im­pact was further accentuated by the presence of the Attor­ney General of the Federa­tion, Abubakar Malami SAN who informed the Germans of Nigeria’s departure from a mono-product economy towards diversification to, especially agriculture, job creation, renewable energy, rural electrification and solid minerals.
Malami explained that it was against this background that the state governors were in Germany to partner with prospective investors and declared while enumerating the numerous business op­portunities in Nigeria that his office has “revised Nigerian laws and policies to provide an enabling and clement business environment, where investors monies are safe and secure, as well as their lives.”
He also allayed their fears on personal security, citing the successes of the country on the war against insurgen­cy as proof. In response, Am­bassador Spasswasser of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended Nigeria’s efforts at taking positive steps at making its country safe for investment, while encourag­ing his compatriots to seize the day in maximizing the benefits that are provided by this wilderness of opportu­nity called Nigeria.
At the Ministry of Eco­nomic Cooperation and De­velopment where the Nige­rian delegation was received by the German Chancellor Gunter Nooke, the Chancel­lor expressed regret at the way insurgency affects the development of infrastruc­ture and agriculture in Nige­ria. He also condemned the deplorable conditions of the IDPs which had attracted the attention of the international community to the country asking government to do more in involving the private sector in economic develop­ment.
Gunther Nooke said that Germany was helping Nige­ria in several projects which include energy development through energy partnerships but frowned at the wastage of gas by the NNPC through gas flaring. He suggested that em­barking on small scale renew­able energy projects would benefit the country if it took the lead, adding that Germany was willing to cooperate with Nigeria in that area.
The Germany trip was facili­tated by the Nigerian Mission in Germany in conjunction with the POTSDAM Cham­ber of Commerce and Indus­try from the German end. At the reception organized for the visiting governors Jens Ullman, the Director of the CCI POTSDAM said that the Chamber’s 6370 members in various sectors including re­newable energy, information technology, rail technology, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction and transportation among others would readily do busi­ness in Nigeria which in all ramifications is an emerging market, if the necessary poli­cies for safeguarding invest­ment were rife.

Responding on behalf of the governors, Darius Dickson as­sured the Germans that Nigeria was doing everything pos­sible to mitigate the vagaries of unsafe investment adding that it is also pulling itself out of the illusion of a single product economy towards diver­sification. Governor Darius said, “Nigeria had depended on oil revenue for a long time, which had adversely affected the country’s economy fol­lowing the global fall in oil prices, explaining that the country’s huge potentials in other non-oil sector activity like agriculture and solid min­eral have now veered the na­tion towards diversification of the economy. He said the gov­ernors were not in Germany for any talk shows but to seek partners for serious non-oil business investment and to borrow technology in order to train people in new revenue sectors for the benefit of their states.

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