The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Chairman, The Resort Group, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), and others have identified the major problems militating against private investment in Nigeria as inadequate education among government officials about the issues involved in Public-Private Partnership, lack of legal framework, inconsistent government policies and failure to honour agreements validly entered into.
According to them, until these problems are resolved, there would always be dearth of the expected direct investments, both locally and internationally, which are needed to bring the country’s economy out of the current recession.
Delivering a lecture as the Guest Speaker on: “Investment Opportunities in Airport Development for Economic Growth,” at the Quarter Three edition of Aviation Round Table Breakfast Meeting in Lagos on Thursday, Babalakin lamented that the attitude of government officials had continued to scare away private investors.
He said a situation where various past governments, especially the military with their civilian collaborators, destroyed all sectors of the economy with inconsistent policies was what Nigerians were paying for today, adding: “A weak educational system with melancholic decadence of great intellect is affecting the aviation sector and all other sectors of the economy.”
Babalakin regretted that since he started investing in aviation sector over one decade ago, 11 ministers had presided over the affairs of the sector with different policies, “which if subjected to critical analysis leads to nothing”.
To him, a government, which does not honour its own agreement, cannot be taken seriously by investors, even as he advised that at the negotiation stage with an investor, the government must put his best intellectuals forward to do the negotiation “instead of making the investor, who has the agreement, look like the devil because Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects require 75 per cent of thinking and 25 per cent in implementation”.
While citing the bitter experience of one of his companies, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, operators of the first privately-funded airport terminal in Nigeria, MMA2, Babalakin said in an attempt to give the country the best design that can stand the test of time, the company went round the world and came out with what is today the best-managed airport terminal in Nigeria, where a single total blackout had never been recorded in the last 10 years of its operations.
Mohammed, who was the Guest of Honour on the occasion, agreed with Babalakin that there was the need for a legal framework in PPP policy, counselling that government officials also needed to change their approach to agreements validly entered into with any private investor, irrespective of his or her ethnic background or religion in order to attract the required private investments for the economy.
While describing MMA2 as a proof of what the private investors can do, the minister said: “If MMA2 is an error, it is a good error and I want that kind of error replicated all over Nigeria.”
Others who spoke in similar vein on the occasion were: the Managing Director/CEO, Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema; and the Executive Director, Lagos and South-West, United Bank for Africa Plc, Ayoku Liadi.