Tuesday 27 September 2016

An Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari

A Nigerian has bared his mind on what he thinks is frustrating foreign investment in the country as Nigeria battles recession.
President Muhamamdu Buhari
Your Excellency
I listened to your speech on NTA news and followed newspaper reports of it, and noted with interest your directive to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, and other relevant agencies to cut down bureaucratic bottlenecks on new investments in order to get the economy out of recession.
You are right Mr. President that the economy needs to attract local and foreign investments to create jobs and improve opportunities for all.  But how can this be Mr. President, when an appointed officer in your government can keep a project worth N68 billion cash investment and over N110 billion total annual concession fees, during the life of the project, on his desk for more than six months with no consequence? What does such a situation say to the investors we are trying to attract?
The concession of the National Theatre fallow land for purposes of fully implementing the over 40-year-old National Theatre master plan by re-development of the areas around the National Theatre into an entertainment city, is the project. It will include a five-star hotel, water park, shopping complex, cultural arcade, office blocks, power plant, waste disposal facility and rehabilitation of the main bowl of the National Theatre which will remain under management of the Federal Government.
The following events illustrate the recent journey of the project:
May 25, 2015
Letter of notification issued to the preferred bidder, and the reserved bidder as directed by ICRC.
November 2015
PPP agreements fully negotiated by a joint negotiating team including National Theatre, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, under the oversight of the ICRC, submitted to Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice approved the draft agreement subject to revisions, which were fully reflected.  At the same time, Final Business Case with draft agreements were submitted to ICRC for compliance review.
March 11, 2016
ICRC issued Final Certificate of Compliance based on Final Business Case, indicating that the project had complied with ICRC Act and the National Policy on PPP and requesting the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture to present the project to FEC.
The project has remained with the Minister and has not been presented to FEC by the Supervising Minister; rather the Minister is by all means maneuvering to bring his preferred company into the project. Is this the change the nation voted for?
Mr. President, how do we attract investments with this kind of deliberate frustration of current investors in a concluded bid?  
Written by Tijani Abdusalam-Ogueyi

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