By Abiodun Taiwo, Abeokuta.
Negative projection of Nigeria image by Leaders have been adduced to be major reasons why investors are scared of investing in the Country.
Stakeholders in the public relations sector have therefore called on government officials to positively project the country’s image and values among the comity of nations in order to boost foreign direct investments to the country.
The Public Relation Practitioners who spoke in Abeokuta during the 2017 colloquium of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Ogun State with the theme: “PR Perspectives on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria” also called on the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to engage broader stakeholders towards reflating Nigeria’s economy.
Speakers at the event include former Defence spokesman of Nigerian Army, Major General Chris Olukolade (rtd); the Director-General, Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf; Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s Special Adviser on One-Stop Shop Investment Centre, Mrs Babi Subair; Managing Director of Background Check International, Mr. Kola Olugbodi, and a financial expert, Mr. Eddy Ademosun.
In his keynote presentation, Yusuf said all efforts aimed at removing critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing businesses in Nigeria must be supported.
The LCCI boss lamented that the country ranks 169 out of 190 countries surveyed in 2016 by the World Bank on ease of doing business.
He pointed out that the nation’s salvation lies in the extent to which government can encourage the private sector to drive the economy.
Yusuf said the high cost of power has adversely affected local companies, adding that majority of their products cannot compete with foreign products.
“The more bottlenecks, the more corruption. Electricity is a big issue; the companies are buying diesel, petrol to power their companies. The goods are not competitive because energy cost is high. When cost increases, the producers pass it down to the consumers,” he added.
Yusuf, who observed that the nation was lagging behind despite the availability of many entrepreneurs, appealed to the Federal Government to help small and medium scale enterprises to thrive.
Speaking, Olukolade, who was chairman of the occasion, said Nigerian authorities must make sure investors and their businesses are comfortable and safe.
He urged government to address the issue of multiple taxation, and always listen to the feedback from the public.
The former Defence spokesman called on NIPR members to join hands with government in rebranding the country, stressing that there must be synergy between public relations practitioners and the government.
Earlier in his address, the chairman of Ogun NIPR, Tope Adaramola, said the idea of the yearly colloquium is to rally professionals from across disciplines to discuss and analyze issues of national importance, with a view to proffering solutions and making the required input into national development.
He argued that the nation’s economy would not grow if the government failed to place required emphasis on improving the environment in which business and trade is undertaken.
He said, “It is quite painful that our country is a place where required enterprise and resourcefulness of the citizenry are killed, simply because of the in-convivial environment in which we live and operate.
“Needless to rehash the hydra headed challenges of power, difficulty and bureaucracy in registering businesses, difficulty in sourcing credits from the banks, taxation challenges, inappropriateness of laws protecting shareholders and security.
“Other challenges come in form of transportation, poor IT infrastructure, as well as the generally poor attitude of Nigerians towards patronizing anything that is theirs. In some other climes this is definitely not so.”