Insecurity and foreign investors’ response
According to a recent report, over N1.77 trillion foreign investments have been divested from the country in the last two years as a result insecurity.
Indeed, for the greater part of the past four to five years no week has passed without some horrifying insecurity experiences and calls by various stakeholders on the Federal Government to seriously improve in the security of live and property in the country.
Unfortunately, till date, there has been no visible and appreciable sign that abatement of insecurity across the four corners of Nigeria is in sight. And, for as long as the prevailing insecure environment subsists, the country will continue to reap its unpleasant consequences.
For sure, those individuals and organisations that brought their money to invest in this country will not be docile and watch their investments evaporate.
Thus, one clear and certain way investors generally act is to, at least, protect or preserve the value of their investments even if they cannot account for any increase in their overall net worth. It should, therefore, not be a surprise that foreign investors in the country are acting true to type as they are reported to be divesting from the country. What must be of immediate concern for us is that their actions stem the prevailing, persistent and even aggravating state of insecurity across Nigeria.
It was widely reported the other day that the United Kingdom (UK) warned her citizens in Nigeria against travelling to 21 out of the 36 States in the country. That means that about 58.33 per cent of the country is being disadvantaged from both private and business visits by UK citizens. If this is not a thumbs-down, what is it? Most importantly, the UK government’s action may generate a bandwagon effect from other countries, if improperly handled and the country will become worse for it.
No doubt, insecurity is a major and critical investment risk. It will only be the uninitiated in foreign investment business that will be naïve enough to close his eyes to insecurity or any other investment risk that has the capacity to jeopardise his investments. Without caring about profit, an astute foreign investor will take flight with at least, the principal amount when danger is real, perceived or anticipated.
That it has taken the Nigerian authorities many years now without solving the grave insecurity problem in the nation is enough to question their preparedness to assume the exalted offices they occupy. It also questions their suitability for public office. If there is no other reason to justify these questions, the answer can be found in the Nigerian Constitution with a provision that welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary responsibility of government. This means that, if the leadership of the country is incapable of providing security to the people and property, the legitimacy of such leadership remaining in their positions cannot be sustained or even justified.
It is not the investors in the Nigerian economy that should secure the country. So, shirking of government’s primary role has its consequences some of which are the reported divestment of over N1.77 trillion from the economy, loss of several jobs, lives and property.
The ripple effects of the investors’ action are diverse and include reduction in the quantum of investments in the economy, contraction of the economy and thus, decrease in production, increase in cost of funds and doing business, increase in unemployment, increase in social vices like armed robbery, terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, ritual killing, etc. None of these implications is supportive of reviving, rebuilding and growing the Nigerian economy, which are the desire and need of sincere stakeholders. Instead, they give heightened impetus to economic and social backwardness overtly expressed in abject poverty and numerous vices in the nation.
It is rather saddening that while this country is in need of and should be welcoming investments with both hands to improve infrastructure and raise the economy’s capacity to produce more for the benefit of the citizenry, the leaders have neglected or refused to solve the rampaging insecurity that has worsened in the last few years. It is astounding that despite various suggestions and recommendations that have been made to the Federal Government towards solving the insecurity dilemma, there has been no evident, pragmatic and reassurance response in the deployment of any of such solutions.
For instance, this newspaper had called for effective interagency collaborations and a wholistic interrogation of the security architecture of the country with a view to transforming it significantly.
Even, the need for a reconsideration of the suitability of those who are in the saddle of managing the country’s security affairs had equally been suggested. There has been a suggestion too that a situation where the leadership of all the security offices and agencies are from a section of this vast country, is neither equitable nor healthy, especially as such produces in the minimum, suspicion, sabotage, disloyalty and lack of patriotism.
There have also been recommendations for the establishment of State, Council and Community Policing. Besides all these, the government has been reminded that successfully fighting the kind of multifaceted insecurity ravaging the entire country requires not just provision of appropriate and adequate weapons but most importantly, effective mobilisation and participation of not just the security personnel but the entire populace. It is either the government is not listening or it’s hearing is impaired or it is preoccupied with pursuing agenda only known to it.
Given the prevailing insecurity, authorities in the country should note that if this economy is allowed to face a downward trend and social order takes flight, the outcome will be tragic and in fact, far worse than the point at issue: insecurity. That will be like the heaven falling, which no one can escape.
It is, therefore, high time the authorities in Nigeria saved this nation from the scourge of widespread insecurity and the attendant adverse effects, especially divestments by both foreign and domestic investors. We need enormous investment inflows rather than outflows to rebuild and grow this economy to reduce unemployment and poverty in this land.
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