Buhari should appoint a special trade representative to woo the US National Black Caucus as he grapples around to find $75bn worth of foreign investment

By Ayo Akinfe

(1) In 2020, Nigeria will be 60, so we simply have to make it a turning point in our history. We have an annual infrastructural deficit of $100bn and an annual budget of $28bn. Simply put, the Nigerian government needs to find $75bn a year and from the look of things, this is not coming from anywhere in the near future. Leon Trotsky once said: “Where tradition is lacking, a striking example is essential.” Someone in Abuja needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat

(2) I wonder how much these figures stress our finance minister Zainab Ahmed but the fact remains that the arithmetic in the Nigerian economy is not stacking up. We generate about $25bn from crude oil sales and the diaspora sends home about another $25bn. Foreign direct investment is less than $5bn and revenue from other sources is probably about that figure too. Altogether, Nigeria’s total GDP adds up to just $375bn, of which less than $30bn is available to the government to spend. We are spending less than a third of what the doctor ordered

(3) Even when you look at the Nigerian budget of $28bn, some 70% of it goes on recurrent costs like salaries, maintenance, the cost of government and the civil service. I find this weird as our civil service only has about 2.2m people working in it. How can 2.2m people account for 70% of your budget when you have a total population of some 200m?

(4) Even if we corrected this anomaly and say $20bn is spent on capital projects, we still have a massive shortfall. President Buhari and Mrs Ahmed need to do something drastic to attract capital into the Nigerian economy in 2020 and I am proposing they target the US Congressional Black Caucus. Tell them you need $75bn worth on investment a year and ask that they get African-Americans to help raise this capital

(5) Now, in 1977, the US Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was involved in the founding of TransAfrica, an education and advocacy affiliate that was formed to act as a resource on information on the African continent and its diaspora. Nigeria has never leveraged on this or staked any claim to assistance from the CBC. Our case is actually very easy to make. We are the world’s largest black nation, the pride of the negro and we thus should be the beacon and standard bearer for every negroid person worldwide. It is in the interest of black America to have a prosperous and thriving Nigeria

(6) Do you know that the CBC is sometimes invited to the White House to meet with the president. It requests such a meeting at the beginning of each Congress. Now, has the CBC ever been invited to Aso Rock to be told the dilemma of the Nigerian economy? I am sure they would be happy to hear out a Nigerian President

(7) It is estimated that if black America were a standalone country, it would be the 15th wealthiest nation in the world with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about $23,000 compared with Nigeria’s figure of about $2,000. As you can see, black America is a potential source of foreign direct investment (FDI) but alas, the Nigerian government needs to come up with ways to protect such investors and guarantee they yield encouraging returns

(8) Those of you who are economists know that money follows money. If 2,000 black US investors make returns of 10% from Nigeria in 2020, you can be guaranteed that by 2025, there will be 5,000 US investors in the country. You just need to see the way every man and his dog have rushed to China to invest there. You are not a genuine multinational today unless you have a significant presence in China. It is now a status symbol. Our goal should be to make Nigeria a similar market

(9) Maybe we should start with wooing the big black-owned business in the US. Let us begin with companies like Millennium Steel Service of Indiana that has an annual turnover of about $250bn, IT behemoth World Wide Technology, that has more than $10bn in annual revenue and over 5,000 employees and restaurant chain Manna that turns over $875m

(10) Given they the World Jewish Congress fights tooth and nail to attract investment into Israel, I think we should try and push the CBC to do likewise in Nigeria. At the moment, nobody is really fighting Nigeria’s corner in the global economy. It we want to attract $75bn a year, someone has to!