When President Muhammadu Buhari rallied Japan to invest in Africa’s most populous country at the seventh triennial Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD), he, without any whiff of doubt, had good intentions. He assured his hosts of Nigeria’s enormous investment opportunities, trumpeting his administration’s commitment to removing all impediments to private sector participation in the critical sectors of the economy by creating policies that will ensure a level playing field for all and guarantee the highest returns on investments.
Buhari left almost nothing for his certified bashers to feed on during his last visit outside Nigeria. His messages to Nigerians in Diaspora and his hosts were direct, leaving no room for controversy like previous visits, even at a time Nigeria’s image is severely battered by fellow countrymen in different parts of the world.
Back to good intentions, they are neither enough for a country in dire straits to morph to greatness nor enough to attract investments. Were good intentions enough, no African nation would carry the shameful tag of a third world country. Is there really a country in the world that is oblivious of the enormous investment opportunities in Nigeria?
Truth is, the investors we now woo were once here. They did business and flourished here but closed shop and left in droves because of the harsh business environment. Has anything really changed to bring back the days when Nigeria was the beautiful bride of investors? It is not impossible for those who are ever-willing to play the ostrich to dismiss our harsh realities with a wave of the hand, don the African giant cap, or simply resort to praying away our troubles, which will remain with us until we confront and conquer them.
While Buhari was busy wooing investors in Tokyo, the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Amina Shamaku, told Nigerians and the entire world that 1,460 people were killed within seven months by bandits. Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had revealed that a total of 1,071 people were killed in crime-related cases in the first quarter of 2019 alone.
Regardless of how one views it, the figures highlighted above tells a story of a country under siege and a convulsing country. Nigeria will not be taken seriously if we invite foreigners to invest their resources here even when we still have our hearts in our mouths as we ply the major highways because the fear of kidnappers is the beginning of wisdom. What about the unrelenting havoc precipitated by Boko Haram elements, Fulani herdsmen and armed bandits across Nigeria?
If we must tell ourselves the home truth, palpable fear occasioned by insecurity currently envelopes the country. No amount of sugary things said about Nigeria in Tokyo can obscure that fact. The Buhari government must first demonstrate the political will to tame the worsening insecurity that has assumed an explosive dimension before advertising Nigeria’s readiness for serious investments.