President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that attracting greater foreign direct investment to accelerate domestic growth and create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians is now the major focus of Nigeria's foreign policy.
Speaking at a dinner organised in his honour by the Corporate Council on Africa, in New York, late Wednesday, September 26, President Jonathan said that his Administration was wholly committed to promoting the development of a knowledge-economy that will enhance the security of lives and property, thereby accelerating growth to provide more employment and reduce youth restiveness.
The President told the gathering of leading American businessmen and investors that attracting foreign investment to support the realization of the Federal Government's Agenda for National Transformation was now the topmost priority of Nigeria's diplomacy abroad.
"Let me restate here that Nigeria's foreign policy is now anchored on the realisation of this Transformation Agenda through the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment. Under the new policy thrust, our Diplomatic Missions abroad have been directed to focus more on attracting investment to support the domestic programmes of government with a view to achieving not only our Vision 20: 20202, but to bequeathing an enduring a legacy of economic prosperity," he said.
President Jonathan assured guests at the dinner that adequate safety nets have been established to protect all foreign investors in Nigeria. Such measures, he said, included the establishment and strengthening of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission and the Bureau of Public Procurement.
The President further assured the gathering that his Administration was dealing decisively with Nigeria's security challenges. "We have some security challenges now, but let me assure you that the Nigerian Government is on top of it. We are dealing with the issue decisively; it will soon be a thing of the past," he said.
"Opportunities abound for would-be investors with capital and technical know-how in key areas of Nigeria's economy with a high rates of return on investment. I invite our friends in the United States to take advantage of existing incentives and invest more in Nigeria. I am confident that by the year 2015, Nigeria would have witnessed transformation in all sectors to the benefit of not only its citizens, but also those who have an interest in Nigeria," President Jonathan concluded.
Welcoming President Jonathan to the dinner earlier, the United States Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Johnnie Carson pledged that the Obama Administration will continue to support Nigeria's efforts to attract greater foreign investment.
Noting that Nigeria was already a very important destination for American companies and the second highest recipient of American direct private sector investment in Africa, Mr. Carson said that he was very optimistic that Nigeria could become a great economic success over the next decade.
The Assistant Secretary of State announced that the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission which has been established as a primary platform for the promotion of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries will meet again in Nigeria next month.
President Jonathan's other engagements in New York on Wednesday included meetings with President Sauli Ministo of Finland and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.
The President had met earlier with President Francois Hollande of France, the Emir of Qatar and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. He also received representatives of the over 200 Nigerians who currently work for the United Nations and its agencies.
President Jonathan and Prime-Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway with whom he serves as Co-Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children also participated at an event to promote its work. Guests at the event included former President Bill Clinton.