Nigeria summit in london: Investors disappointed
From PAUL ORUDE, Bauchi
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Nigeria?s last-minute decision to scale down a massive delegation due at a business summit in London yesterday may have appeased some critics at home. The decision, however, left foreign investors less than delighted.
President Goodluck Jonathan had been expected to lead dozens of ministers, state governors and government officials to the conference, where they were due to address issues from bank and power sector reforms to eradicating counterfeit drugs.
But Jonathan and most of the delegation pulled out amid criticism of profligacy over the planned trip, which would have come days after he returned from the G20 summit in Toronto.
?The president was in Canada and he was supposed to come to London on the 30th and meet the prime minister (David Cameron) on the 1st (of July), but that meeting was resolved in Canada. So ?there was no need to come here,? said Works and Housing Minister, Sanusi Daggash, one of the few ministers to come.
Some investors who attended the event, dubbed as Nigeria?s Golden Jubilee Summit to mark 50 years of independence from Britain, were unimpressed. ?It?s a massive disappointment,? said one European investment banker, who asked not to be named.
?They?ve got to realise that they?re not the only boys on the block. This week I?ll hear from Turkey, Indonesia all competing for money and it?s only the ones who do the very best who win the prizes,? he said.
Jonathan, who is widely expected to seek re-election in polls due next April and is sensitive to public opinion, had been billed as the keynote speaker. Oil Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke also due to speak on the outlook for Nigeria?s mainstay, oil and gas industry.
?It?s pretty embarrassing for Nigerians that no one has come,? said an independent Middle East investor. However, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the plans to send such a large delegation to London as a ?national disgrace?.
Presidential adviser, Barth Nnaji outlined plans to improve regulation of the domestic power sector while credit ratings agencies Standard & Poor?s and Fitch gave their views on the outlook for the banking sector.
?Nigeria has to compete with other markets to source their capital. Legal certainty, policy certainty, communication is critical in attracting international capital,? said Mark Young, Managing Director of Financial Institutions at Fitch.