Improving confidence in Nigeria can be broadly categorized into the aspects of the people and foreign investors. This paper aims to highlight the drastic decline in Nigerians’ level of trust in the government, and the lack of investor confidence in establishing businesses in Nigeria. Building upon recent statistics, the work answers the question: ‘How do we improve Nigeria’s foreign reputation and local patriotism?’ It also highlights the common problems faced and suggests viable solutions to them. Finally, recommendations are put forward in the essay to achieve economic success and improved quality of life.
Confidence, according to the Longman dictionary, is the feeling of trusting someone to work well and produce positive results. It is the quality of trust. Nation building in this context refers not to a newly created state, but, according to the Department of Arts and Culture SA, to the process whereby a society of people with diverse origins, histories, languages, cultures and religions come together within the boundaries of a sovereign state upholding a unified legal dispensation, working towards eradicating the divisions/ injustices of the past and fostering unity promoting National consciousness for its citizens. Inclusive economic growth, as defined by Thangvel Palanivel, is ensuring that we reach the most vulnerable people of the society in all sectors. The basis of inclusive economic growth is the equality of opportunity and participation in growth by all, with a special focus on the working poor and the unemployed (Paloma, 2015).
2.0 THE CONFIDENCE OF THE PEOPLE
Trust is indispensable in building a solid nation. It is, as stated in the concept note, the social glue binding everyone together irrespective of all the differences. What are adhesives known for? If used in crafting an artwork, a masterpiece well put together is produced. The good thing about trust is that it moves in hand with patriotism. A critical observation of the Nigerian society will reveal the lack of trust Nigerians exhibit in different scopes.
Lamentably, people do not trust the quality of goods made in Nigeria but would gladly spend a fortune purchasing foreign products. No matter how hard the sellers try to convince, the buyers always deem them inferior. This attitude discourages local production of goods and industrialization. As at March 2019, Nigeria spends N1,002 billion on importation (News Feed, Trading economics). On the aspect of the military, the former Inspector general of police, Suleiman Abba, has publicly asserted that the major problem facing the police is lack of public trust (Punch, 2018). The police are notable for receiving bribe on the highways and even on the police stations, part of the reason why some arbitrators take laws into their hands and set criminals ablaze in public scenes- jungle justice. During elections, the electorates turn sick of political apathy. They believe the transiting government is no different from the incoming one because politicians have betrayed the people’s trust in the past. They don’t take the politicians by their manifestos anymore and they don’t expect too much luxury from them either. The Sentimental RUGA bill is a typical example of a grave distrust playing out. The numerous cases are limited in this work due to want of space. A lop-sided confidence cannot effectively guarantee economic success and that leads us to the next aspect.
3.0 FOREIGN INVESTORS’ CONFIDENCE
It is not enough achieving the largest economy in Africa and a GDP of 2.01%; we need to attract the foreign direct investment (FDI) to boost the GDP in a geometrical progression. Nigeria’s FDI fell from N532.63 billion to N379.84 billion in 2017, most being in the telecom and energy sectors (ThisDay, 2018). On equity investment, between 2013 and 2018, the numbers flattened to $139 million this year -2019 from $2.9 billion in 2013 (Rapoza, 2019). Investors face poor electricity, inconsistent polices, instability in exchange rates, infrastructural dearth, security issues, legal disputes, security issues, bureaucracy, corruption, an unfavorable tax system, harsh regulations and so on. All these hurt investments from flourishing in Nigeria. Mambilla hydroelectric dam project would have been Nigeria’s biggest hydropower plant capable of generating 3050MW of power; had a dispute not ensued between Sunrise and Nigeria which resulted in the later facing a fine of $2.3billion over breach of contract. A similar battle is ongoing in the London court with an energy project P&ID. This kind of relationship scares investors away from the shores of Nigeria.
4.0 ENHANCING THE CONFIDENCE: SOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1 For improved quality of life for Nigerians: what can be done?
4.1.1 Operation regain-the-trust campaign: A campaign should be introduced from the end of security agencies. The objective of the campaign would be divided into three goals: To publicize the intention of the campaign, to keep to the promises and to impress the people, in that order. The Nigerian army had tried this previously with the South east communities in 2017. They army discovered the people didn’t trust them so they engaged in corporate social responsibilities to win them back but unfortunately, that too was misinterpreted and alarm raised nation wide (Onwuka, 2017). But my trust campaign proposal will take a different turn. Here, the order of the goals will be dutifully followed, the people will be impressed more by displaying humanitarian services like cleaning the streets, repainting old facilities and renovating community properties, etc. A huge impact will be made and it will be like a reunion between a mother and her many children.
4.1.2 Practical civil-education: The values of trust, cooperation, and confidence are core topics in the compulsory subject, civic education taught in our schools but more needs to be done in order to drive the point home. We could add practical sessions and field works from which the observations would be converted to numbers that can as well be used in plotting graphs at the end. The activities will make the concept more substantial to the learners. There is no better time to start the reformation than from a young generation.
4.1.3 Strict sanctions and public penalties: With a standing rule of politicians making realizable promises and fulfilling the contents of their manifestos, any defaulter should be publicly disciplined. Not limited to that, fund looters, fake news mongers, and corrupt officers should be made to undergo very strict sanctions. As we witnessed in Buhari’s government, the proactive measures taken made more defaulters to return the stolen funds willingly. This could be an effective solution when the media is not biased.
4.1.4 Tackling it from the source: What stained the peoples’ trust?:This question is critical. The concept note of this essay used the word ‘rebuilding’ meaning that a house of trust once existed. Truly, poverty, violence, unemployment, high mortality rate, insecurity has hardened the hearts of the people. Hopelessness and sadness is prevailing the nation. Generally, the government can rebuild the people’s trust by fostering development in the nation. Provide jobs for the people, ensure their utmost security, protect their interests and show them that you care. That’s the best way to restore the trust.
4.2 Towards Economic Success: what is the way forward?
4.2.1 Tax reduction and minimized regulations: David Bruckmeier, a sub-Saharan business intelligence analyst at London-based political risk firm AKE group has identified an unfavorable tax system as one of the things that discourages investors (Rapoza 2019). A good example is the MTN fine of N1.04 trillion which was reduced to N330 billon (NCC 2019). Such kind of alarming amount is enough to make the seat too hot for investors and eventually show them the way out. Therefore I recommend that the taxation scheme should be readjusted and the numerous regulations under which investors must operate should be modified to accommodate them comfortably; keeping in mind the limit of the luxury.
4.2.2 End/prevent all disputes: Fighting with our fortune is a foolish adventure. Nigeria has continued to lose more and more money by engaging in disputes with P&ID, Sunrise, etc. We cannot build our nation by wasting the money that could be channeled into productive projects. Friendliness and hospitality are the rules of the game. The government should end all the disputes and prevent future occurrences. That energy should be utilized in creating deeper economic relationships with the international communities in similarity to the Nigeria-China ties.
4.2.3 Role of the federal ministry: In Nigeria, there are 2 ministries at the fore front of attracting foreign investors – the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. To observe that the word ‘foreign investor’ is missing among the six Nigerian foreign policies is really something to call out for. The ministry of foreign affairs needs to include it and form a special liaison with the trade and investment ministry on that note. The Nigerian investment promotion commission (NIPC) which is an arm under the ministry of trade and investment should prioritize the foreign investors on their scale of preferences and put up attractive incitement on the media to boost their confidence.
Nigeria is perturbed by several economic challenges, but in order to maintain a sustainable and competitive nation that will promote inclusive economic growth, we need to take one step at a time. The essay has outlined viable solutions that can enhance the confidence in Nigeria and beyond. There is therefore a need for co-operation from the government, the citizens, the media, the organizations and everyone without exception to take appropriate action. We can maximize our potentials for a blessed Nigeria. The glue is trust.
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