Buhari optimistic at U.S.-Africa forum but faces new criticism at home
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised world leaders Wednesday that as the nation’s economy falters and seeks a recovery, Nigeria remains open for business – even as he faced new criticism at home.
Buhari, speaking at the U.S. Africa Business Forum in New York, said the impact of falling prices on Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy has created opportunity amid crisis. The nation is weaning itself from a historical dependence on crude oil and diversifying the economy, putting Nigeria on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth, Buhari said.
That new direction translates to a focus on key priorities including Nigeria’s infrastructure, manufacturing sector, agricultural industries and mining. Young Nigerians are keen to leverage the digital economy, Buhari added, noting that there are 150 million active mobile phone lines in the country well beyond Lagos, with sixty percent of them connected to the Internet.
Buhari said Nigeria is prepared to offer tax incentives in order to stimulate foreign investment. He added that the commitment to rooting out corruption, coupled with the resolve to create a secure environment free of the threat of terrorism, will keep Nigeria first among African nations attracting direct foreign investment, which amounted to USD$3.64 billion last year.
His speech, however, came as Nigerian lawmakers at home issued 13 recommendations to improve the economy and a much harsher assessment of Nigeria’s precarious economic situation. The list, Vanguard reports, included pointed criticisms of the existing cabinet, an alleged failure to release stolen funds, the need to take corruption seriously, and even Buhari’s body language – which, the Nigerian senate said, must change because it discourages investment.
Chatham House Photo