Voice of America (Washington, DC)

7 August 2014

Africa: Nigerian Official Satisfied Africa Seen As New Investment Destination

The head of Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission says she's happy there's greater recognition of Africa as the preferred investment destination because of positive statistics coming out of the continent. Despite the good news on the economic front, Nigerians from the diaspora say more work is needed on security in their home country.

Arunma Oteh says she is satisfied with the outcome of the three-day summit between Africa and the United States, hosted by President Barack Obama.

"I just want to commend President Obama and the U.S. administration as well as the private sector leadership for recognizing the value of engagement, the value of a respectful relationship; the fact that we've really transitioned from this period of, "Oh let's go and help these poor Africans; diseased [and] war infested countries." [Instead say] we are making good returns so let's have a partnership that's an equal partnership," said Oteh.

Oteh also says many countries are looking at Africa differently because of the Chinese presence.

"My sense is also that the Chinese have brought competition for the West. The Chinese have started this approach of engaging and being respectful in that relationship," she said.

Oteh spoke to VOA at a town hall meeting that was supposed to give Nigerians of the diaspora a chance to address their president, Goodluck Jonathan, to celebrate the positives about their country but also address its challenges. He did not show up.

Olufemi Ilori, who took the day off for the chance to face his president, says he was not pleased.

"I would have to say a little disappointed in the fact that I thought it was going to be more of an interaction on issues that we are passionate about as far as Nigerians living overseas, but it's more or less a sales speech for the president's political agenda for the next election," said Ilori.

Emmanuel Adegoke said that while the Nigerian economy is booming, the same cannot be said about security.

"It's real that girls are missing from Nigeria, the Boko Haram thing is real. It's not some political propaganda. It's not made up. It's insulting to our intelligence when someone says don't come over here and talk about Nigeria in a bad way when bad things are happening over there," said Adegoke.

More than 200 schoolgirls have been kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram. The incident has caused an international outcry and many blame the Nigerian government. The co-organizer of the town hall meeting, John Iheoma, apologized that President Jonathan could not attend, but said the missing girls' incident is a very complicated one and that the government is doing its best.

"No leader wants to welcome terrorism. We will find them but our motive should be bring these kids alive. I don't want my 18-year-old, 14-year-old or my 11-year-old to die in a bomb blast because I want to be a hero," said Iheoma.

It has now been almost four months since the girls disappeared.

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