The Chief Executive Officer, BHS International, Otunba Olu Adenodi, has charged the Federal Government to reduce the infrastructure deficit across the country. In an interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, the international infrastructure company’s boss said the current government should not toe the path of its immediate predecessor in terms of inconsistent policies. Excerpts:
How would you assess the state of infrastructure in Nigeria?
It is in a sorry state. We set up BHS to reduce the infrastructure deficit in Nigeria. When you look at the country, you will discover the dearth of infrastructure across Nigeria. It starts from telecommunication to roads, water and power among others. The facilities that are supposed to make life comfortable for Nigerians are not there. The government that is saddled with the responsibility of providing the infrastructure cannot meet up with its provision again. There are so many abandoned projects across Nigeria that require the urgent attention of government and stakeholders.
Since BHS took over the Tafawa Balewa Square, many people have been waiting to witness the inauguration of the project. What is responsible for the delay?
I am sure the TBS you know in those days is not what you see there now. But despite that, our major vision in that place has not yet been realised due to some political issues.
What are the issues?
That has been resolved now; because the unification of Lagos and Abuja (in terms of the same party, All Progressives Congress) will help the situation. You know, when we came in, the Lagos State Government took us to court on the ground that the facility belonged to the state; and since then, we have been in court. That case has caused us a major setback. If not, we would have created a city within the TBS. It is actually a project, which will cost us about $2 billion. As at then, our investors were ready from different countries like, Germany, South Africa, America and others. Then, we were excited because we knew it was an avenue to create jobs for our youths and other Nigerians. The project, during and after execution, was aimed at providing jobs for no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians, and you know, that is a lot in this country. But now that progress is being made, ‘and Abuja and Lagos are one’, we are very hopeful that, soon, we will start the project.
Economic experts have been setting agenda for the President on the profile of the country, concerning investment. How do you think Nigeria can attract more investment?
Talking about foreign investment, the basic thing required is stability across key sectors of the economy. When an investor comes to Nigeria and there is no stability in security and power, it will definitely affect them. We have to put all these things into consideration before inviting the investors. As you know, most of the companies in this country run on generator, which is not good for business. The issue of electricity has increased the cost of most products in the country and of course, you cannot compare them with the ones produced in countries with stable power. And if cases like these are not well addressed, no investor will come and risk his money where there is danger. If you are an investor, you have to consider these factors well before you put your hard-earned money on any business in the country. So, if all these issues are resolved, investors will come to your country without invitation.
Critics argue that policy summersault has hindered the growth of the Nigerian economy. As an investor, what is your take on this?
I think you have said it all. The financial industry is so sensitive and our regulators are so insensitive. It is shameful that we found ourselves in the kind of mess we are in this country presently. Within a period of two months, the Central Bank of Nigeria has come up with different conflicting policies. In a bid to reduce the flow of dollars among the citizens, the apex banking regulator has shot itself in the foot several times. They don’t know what to do. One moment, they will say this, the second moment they are saying another thing.
Some people argue that corruption has a way of creating artificial price hike in major sectors of the economy. What do you think?
I agree with that and this is because I know it happens in the property sector. It is what I have tried and it worked. That is why properties are very expensive in this country, because the economy is not tied to production. The money is not genuine. Corrupt money is everywhere, and this kind of fast business is everywhere. Properties are now expensive because some people are making easy
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