By Appolos Christian
Kogi State born Nigerian business mogul, Emmanuel Ozigi, has urged the Federal government to relax some stringent policies that are discouraging prospective investors and making operation of existing ones difficult to flourish, in line with its ease-of-doing-business agenda.
Mr Ozigi, a former governorship aspirant in 2015 elections, also supported the general belief that the high level of insecurity across Nigeria, is a major cause of the country’s downward investment rate, and of course the skyrocketing inflation and unemployment figures.
“One of the key objectives of this administration is the ease of doing business. And if you have ease of doing business, there are some things you need to liberalize to help people who have access to doing business to reduce unemployment.
“One of the critical areas I am interested in, is that the government should be able to make the private sector provide a lot of support to development by given them some leverage and palliatives. If this is done, you will see that growth in the economy would be immeasurable. The private sector would be able to reduce unemployment, poverty, social vices in the society and that is a key area of interest for me as an investor.
Speaking over the weekend at the inauguration of Bukkies Park and Recreational Garden, a games and recreation centre located at Katampe District of Abuja, Ozigi went on to enjoin the Federal government to re-strategize and restructure on not only security, but major policies to enable the country adapt to current realities and restore confidence of the citizens and especially foreign investors.
His words; If you look at the last few years that Nigeria has experienced insecurity, there is no wise person that would put their (his or her) hard earned money into an investment. Today, the flow of FDI has reduced drastically and it is because this is not an investment haven for now.
“Looking at it from the global point of view, Nigeria on red zone. So because of that a lot of people are not willing to come to Nigeria. It is very easy for government to sit down and look at and seek how to restructure our security system, so that the citizens to be able to sleep with two eyes.
“When people are able to sleep with two eyes, then there is confidence. We need to restore that confidence. That investment confidence has to be there for people to be able to come in and invest. For instance, there are opportunities I can create in places like Zamfara, but because of insecurity I might not be able to go and invest there.
“Look at the implication of that to the economy. One, the GDP of the state reduces, the GDP of the country reduces, unemployment increases, risk is high. It is as bad as that. I think the government should be able to sit down and reorganize not only in terms of security architecture, but to restrategize and say; how do we stop this insecurity in order for the economy to be vibrant once more.”
On Bukkies Park and Recreational Garden.
“We have been here the last 7 years trying to see how we can get approval. It is good to open the place for public access for relaxation and recreation. What we have here is a health garden and our restaurants are purpose built for health. This is not a place where you come and sit and drink beer. You come for games. You come for wedding receptions and things like that. That is what this place is designed for. The key objective of this investment.
“We are of the opinion that the government should be a bit liberal in allowing some infrastructure that we intend to put here. Because a lot of people have funds to invest but because of government constraints in terms of regulation they find it difficult to do. It has ripple effects for the economy.
“When you look at the issue of unemployment, investments like this is a good venture to reduce employment crisis. Already, I can tell you that we have over 20 people in employment in this place. You can imagine how many people are out of employment. With this singular investment, poverty rates have reduced and livelihoods will be improved. Also the government is going to generate revenue here in terms of tax and PAYE from the salaries of staff. So these are things the government should look at and liberalize their regulations to ensure that it allows people to do business.”
On constraints the investment face
“Government does not want us to put a permanent structure. For instance you cannot build a hotel here. It would have been a good thing to have a resort that people can come and after playing games, they come in and lodge, spend the weekend and out. But government is not looking at it from that angle.
“They should liberalize the regulations guiding parks and recreational gardens, so they can generate more revenue and increase unemployment. They may have a reason for not wanting permanent structures here, but as the world becomes contemporary and a global place, there are certain things that should change too and be amended to suit the contemporary situations.”