19 March 2001

Nigeria: Obstacles to Nigeria's Development, By Jeter

Lagos — The new United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Howard Jeter, has identified corruption, absence of the rule of law, lack of transparency as the major obstacles to foreign investment in Nigeria.

Jeter, who spoke in Lagos said years of military usurpation of power had left Nigeria's transportation, power and telecommunications infrastructure badly degraded, hampering economic growth.

In telecommunications, an inadequate number of inferior quality lines make it difficult to place calls from Abuja, the country's political capital to Lagos, its commercial centre, Jeter said.

"To reach our shared goals, however, many obstacles have to be overcome.

First, Nigeria must be committed to transparency, anti-corruption, and the rule of law, he said. "Nigeria's image abroad continues to suffer from the history of corruption and opaque government tendering so prevalent in the past. It is up to each of you to change this image through your own transparent action and accountability," he advised.

He said in addition to individual action as business people, Nigeria must encourage the government to fight corruption at every level of society.

"If the first experience a potential investor has of Nigeria includes a small "dash," not only will that investor not return, he also will tell his friends not to come here, Jeter said.

"The future of Nigeria's telecom, however, will not necessarily lie in providing new land lines, but in leaping beyond into the age of wireless communications," he said.

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