Nigeria: Govt Urged to Create Business-Friendly Environment

22 April 2021

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, has advised the federal government to always receive feedback from Nigerians in good faith, instead of being on the defensive at all times.

Adebayo who gave the advice while reacting to the agitations from Nigerians who blamed the federal government for its inactions that led to the recent siting of Twitter's African headquarters in Ghana, said harsh business environment, coupled with policy inconsistency, must have compelled Twitter to choose Ghana.

According to him, most global businesses are cut out for the long-term operations, hence their choice for a conducive business environment.

He argued that long-term business would not survive harsh business environment.

"The duty of government is to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, but a situation, where government fails to create conducive business environment, Nigerians will criticise and government must accept such constructive criticism in good fate rather than being on the defensive," Adebayo said

He further said government's policies on Ease of Doing Business most times sound rhetoric because they are not laced with realities.

"The truth about Nigerian business environment is that the average business person in Nigeria struggles and suffers to do business because of policy summersault and harsh business environment.

"For example it is on paper and officially documented that airports should not have more than one agent, but in reality, all airports in Nigeria have several agents of government, whose actions delay the normal processes at the airports.

"The same applies to the Nigerian land borders and sea ports. So we often hear government say that the ease of doing business in Nigeria has improved, but in the practical sense of it, it has not improved. "Government will tell Nigerians that goods can now be cleared within 24 hours but there are several goods that cannot be cleared in six months and the goods are lying waste at our sea ports, yet the government will say the ease of doing business has improved.

"Investors see all of these and they make their investment decision based on the realities on ground."

Apart from the technology companies not investing in Nigeria, Nigerians who have skills in various disciplines, are leaving the shores of the country for greener pastures.

"Many Nigerians are applying for jobs outside the country, and many of them are leaving the country, and this is so because our social economic environment is not favorable to businesses," Adebayo added.

He said government officials travel for international forums to woo investors but most times are not able to achieve the aim because, "there is a gap between what Nigeria sells to investors and the reality on ground and the investors will always do their due diligence before taking business decisions."

"COVID-19 has open the realities of life to the globe and countries are turning the disadvantages that the pandemic has brought, into realities, which have led to diversification of economies. Investors do not take decision based on political reasons but based on the business realities.

"Nigerians should therefore take a critical look at the causes why investors are not investing in Nigeria, instead of blaming the effects of certain decision taken by investors," Adebayo said.

He advised government to be consistent in policy formulation and implementation, to be more receptive to feedbacks and accept the realities on ground in order to make amends, "whether the feedbacks are positive or negative."

"Government must improve the power sector because lack of adequate power distribution is killing several business in Nigeria as some of them run generators 12 hours on a daily basis to power their businesses," he added.

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