Following blistering criticisms by the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and journalists over the manner Ministers and Governors shunned a meeting with investors in Washington D.C., the Federal government has scrambled a response, saying most of the minister’s were not invited and were not in the US capital.
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had earlier dried that they kept away from the meeting, insisting they were attending the more important meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank holding in the same American capital at about the same time.
Last Saturday in Washington D.C., Sanusi had said of the absence of ministers and state governors, and other functionaries: “For the person sitting in London and who has a billion dollars to invest, hes got Nigeria, hes got Ghana, he’s got Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, you may be the biggest economy, but he may decide that rather than go through the hassle of investing $500 million in Nigeria, why not put $100 million in Ghana, $100 million in Rwanda, $100 million in Cote d’Ivore, just to have diversification benefit and the benefit of reaching out.
“We had a meeting today with investors, we were supposed to start by 9 a.m., we started at 10. When I came in they took me to the ambassador’s office to sit down, when investors were waiting down there. We had a list of people who were to be here, vice president, ministers, some of them are in town, but they haven’t come up.
“You invite top investors, your ministers are in Washington and they do not come to talk to the investors about Nigeria. That is not how you attract investors. If you have this forum in the Rwandan embassy, I assure you President Kagame himself would be there telling people to come to Rwanda.
“Sometimes it is about how we market ourselves, how we package ourselves. There is absolutely no reason for the Nigerian embassy to arrange a Nigeria is open for Business forum with ministers in town, with governors in town and not have the coordination that they are actually here to meet with these investors.
“There is no reason why we should start one hour late, and there is no reason why the public address system should not work. Because at the end of the day, this is the first point of the country, he hasn’t even come to Nigeria so what will be his experience in Abuja and he is saying if I am having this experience in Washington, what will happen when I go to Abuja, when I go to Kano, how do I get to see the governor will it take me 10 hours?”
Contrary to insinuations, Finance minister Kemi Adeosun and CBN governor Godwin Emefiele, never confirmed they would attend Investors’ Summit in Washington.
They were not scheduled to attend the Nigeria-US Investment Summit because they had other engagement at the IMF which coincided with their official engagement.
The duo replied the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, and gave reasons for their absence at the summit which held on Saturday.
The summit was organised by the Embassy of Nigeria in the United State and the absence of Adeosun and Emefiele sparked criticism from the Emir, who described the absence of government officials as carefree attitude to investment opportunities.
But Adeosun and Emefiele on Sunday said they never confirmed attendance at the summit.
They said the meeting was not included in their schedule.
“I attend the IMFC which is the highest decision-making body of the IMF. My primary role here as well as having the Nigerian hat on is to represent 23 African countries. So one of the things I have to do is to issue a statement on behalf of those 23 which includes most of the Anglophone countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania,” Adeosun said on Sunday.
“So, my primary role here, as well as having a Nigerian hat on is to represent the 23 African countries. There has been some controversy about the scheduling I wasn’t due at any event.
“I was here as a governor of the IMF and member of IMFC to represent those 23 African countries and that schedule is what I must adhere to,” Adeosun explained.
Emefiele said a plenary session of IMF finance ministers and Central Bank Governors was holding at the same time of the event.
Emefiele said the meetings in the IMF as well as the meeting at the World Bank takes pre-eminence over the investment summit. He added that he wasn’t consulted when the programme was organised.
“Being the governor of the CBN what takes pre-eminence is the meetings in the IMF as well as the meeting at the World Bank. I think it is important for me to say this when I arrived in Washington, the officials of the embassy spoke with me that there was going to be a US-Nigeria summit and I said will check my schedule because I wasn’t consulted when this summit was being organised.
“What one would have expected is that they would have checked my schedule and that of the finance minister if they thought that our presence at the summit was very necessary,” he said.
Emefiele apologised to the investors and noted that himself and the Minister of Fianace are not irresponsible people.
“The US Nigeria summit was meant to hold between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. whereas the World Bank development committee plenary session which is an assembly of ministers and governors of central banks was to hold between 2:15 p.m. and 5 p.m.
“There was no way how the minister of finance and myself could have been at those meetings,” ChannelsTV reports.
“We are not irresponsible people and please we apologise to those investors who had gathered at the Nigerian embassy for the summit. My apologies but I know we also held some side meetings with some investors and there will always be lots of opportunities to meet with them.”
The Ministers and Governors were billed to speak at the special function to attract investors to the country.
According to thewillnigeria.com, the US-Nigeria Investment Summit 2018 organized by the Nigerian embassy in conjunction with a private firm was tagged: “Nigeria is open for Business” was designed to bring under one roof, decision makers from Nigeria, United States officials, entrepreneurs, investors, chief executive officers of renowned corporation and their representatives, the academia and other interested individuals and groups.
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture; Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology; Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and culture; Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power; Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources; Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance; Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals, all had sessions at the event but were absent.
Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were also absent.
The event had in attendance, Secretary Wilbur Ross, United State Secretary of Commerce, Sergio Pimenta, IFC Regional Vice President ( Middle East and Africa), Winslow Sargent SVP, ICSB, Makhtar Diop V.P for Afri, World Bank, C.D Glin, President and CEO, U.S African Development Foundation ((USADF) among others
But the Federal Government has denied media reports that Ministers who were invited to the US-Nigeria Investment Summit in Washington, DC, on 19 April 2018 shunned the forum.
In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said most of the Ministers who were slated to attend the event were not invited and were not in Washington, DC, at the time, hence the insinuation that some Ministers collected estacodes without attending the forum is baseless.
He said the Ministers of Agriculture; Power Works and Housing and Budget and National Planning did not get any invitation from the organizers, even though they were listed among those who were expected to attend.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who was invited, was with the President at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London at the time of the summit, while the Minister of Finance, who was in Washington, DC, at the time, was there purposely to attend the 2018 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He said though he (Minister of Information and Culture) was invited to the forum, he wrote back to inform the organizers that he would not be able to make the trip due to conflicting schedules.
”It is clear from the foregoing that no Minister shunned the US Investment Summit and that the reports being circulated in that regard are bereft of facts,” the Minister said.