An industrialist and Chairman, Total Steel, Hussaini Abudlrahman, has said that the unlimited invitation being extended to foreigners by the Federal Government to invest in Nigeria, as well as take-over strategic national assets like Ajaokuta Steel Company, is a policy lacking in merit.
Speaking with our correspondent in Abuja, Husseini said such policy would not lead to the expected economic development of any country, lamenting that the social and economic implication of the policy, if continued, would destabilise the nation’s economy.
According to him, it is shameful to believe that basic infrastructure in Nigeria like airports, steel plants and rail lines must be built by foreigners and not Nigerians.
“If Nigerians don’t build the country themselves, we may never prosper and we may not even be able to sustain them when the foreigners who build them quit the country for greener pastures,” he observed.
He noted that the policy also accounted for huge capital flight to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.
“To remedy the situation and change the trend, there must be basic strategies to get the locals to lead the quantum of that development and government needs to reduce foreign investment to about 10 per cent,” he said, adding, “We need to know that there will be no sustainable development here and that poverty will not reduce unless Nigerians themselves take the initiative to industrialise and mechanise agriculture while spending more on education.”
Hussein stressed that policy must change across the sectors and the nation must de-emphasise importation of foreign goods at the expense of not developing the potential to produce made-in-Nigeria goods.
According to him, policy makers must do everything possible to ensure that locals who want to set up local industries are supported with necessary policies.
He faulted the penchant of taxation agencies saying, “When I see the aggressiveness of the FIRS in an economy that is not industrialised, I laugh because I expect that they know that businesses need to thrive before taxation can be justified,” he added.
The industrialist said by pursing businesses that were struggling in an unindustrialised economy, the FIRS was putting the cart before the horse.
“It is very wrong to believe that foreign investment in Nigeria will lead to technology transfer, economic development and job creation,” he stated.
“The truth about technology transfer is that it is never done. When I was employing 30 Indians to run my steel plant, I had a strict policy to transfer technology, but in the end, I was disappointed. One of my disappointments is from the realisation that when an Indian is welding, he uses a quarter of the LPG and oxygen, but my Nigerian workers will use three times more of that quantity,” he lamented.
He said Nigeria must rise up to the task of taking the lead in the infrastructural and economic development of the country by being independent.
“We can do it ourselves provided the leaders and stakeholders are determined. No responsible nation cautiously wills its strategic national assets to foreigners or leaves its economy in the hands of foreign businesses. The Russians did not do that, the Japanese didn’t do that; not even the Indians and Chinese would ever hand over a strategic asset to foreigners. The reason is in the interest of being in charge of their economy,” he
Discussing the real reason China has yet to open its communication sector, he said, “The Chinese have not even opened up their communication sector till date. They kept it for one single reason: The Chinese have very large numbers in billions. They reasoned that the most viable way to tax anybody in modern times is the GSM. So they reasoned that if they opened the GSM in China to foreigners, it would seriously compromise their national security in terms of the sum of monies that foreigners will take away
“If you try to set up a mobile telephone company in America today, you will be disappointed because they are keen as they would calculate the capital flight that will leave their country as a result of your business. Patriots protect their economy. It is not racism or a socially based policy; it is just that people around there want to really prosper.”