The following article was published in THISDAY Live on August 27, 2013. To view the original article, click here.
Offor: Nigeria is One of the Best Places to Do Business
Executive Vice-Chairman Chrome Group, Sir Emeka Offor, is an investor, whose interests cover oil and gas, engineering services, insurance, logistics and dredging. In this encounter with James Emejo, the billionaire businessman observes the return of sanity in the business climate in the country, saying it is one of the best places to do business in the world. Excerpts:
Ease of Doing Business
Despite complaints from some quarters over the hurdles placed on the way of business promoters in the country by a variety of problems, Executive Vice-Chairman of Chrome Group, Sir Emeka Offor insisted that the emerging business climate ranks among the best in the world.
He attributed the pass mark to a number of initiatives put in place by the current administration and the population advantage with the corresponding labour population.
He said, “Nigeria remains one of the best places to do business in the world. The market is there in this country for realisation of investment profits. We have a stable and purposeful democracy, and our people are enlightened and hardworking. Industrial nations of the west are outsourcing to India and some other countries, because of the ready availability of labour. They can also begin to come to Nigeria because the labour is there and there are many competent hands around who can deliver the goods.”
Obstacles to Real Sector Growth
Offor argued that “There is no economy that has never been challenged. Challenges are regular features of life itself. When President Obama came to government in his first term, he met a receding economy. He did a lot to stimulate the economy, so as to jumpstart it once more.
“He cut costs and pumped in resources to generate multipliers that could in turn boost the economy. It paid off eventually which was why he got re-elected. We have had ours, but like I said the government is working from all fronts and it is all paying off, and will even still pay off some more.
“The government is doing well in ensuring there is peace in all part of the country. What we need to realise is that they cannot do it alone. We need to join hands with them, and ensure peace and order reigns in all parts of the country. With complete peace, of course, you and I expect that the economy will again be at full optimum.”
He added that the federal government is still doing a lot to improve the investment climate, saying “We all simply have to support them by ensuring that there is peace in the land. No government in the world can succeed alone; we need to join hands together with them in the interest of our common future. The climate has improved and still improving, but we all still have to do more to stimulate the economy, to bring about the attendant benefits, including increase in Per Capita Income (PCI), Gross Domestic Income (GDI), Gross National Income (GNI), and all other indices for measuring growth and development.”
He explained that his “aspiration is to be a key player in the nation’s economy, to be able to provide jobs for hundreds of Nigerians. At the moment, I have nearly one thousand Nigerians working in my companies. More could still be employed as providence determines. I would continue to play my part as a committed, dutiful and result oriented businessman.
“All we need is the enabling environment which can partly be determined by peace and it is in our own hands. I came from humble beginnings. I grew up in Kaduna, in north-western Nigeria. My father was a policeman, and my family was very poor. Now, I am a successful businessman with ties throughout the world, and I have the ability to help others escape the ravages of poverty and deprivation that I experienced. The goal drives me each and every day, and I trust in God that we shall succeed.”
“The appointment says I am the first Polio Ambassador in Nigeria, and not only a polio ambassador. The meaning is straightforward. We have a global humanitarian organisation committed to the well-being of people, the good life, freedom and happiness of humanity. I associated with them because of my belief in the virtues and values they subscribe to. I tried to demonstrate my faith in the group in cash and in kind, as much as I am empowered to. For me, it is an honour and a privilege to be so recognised, and it is a further call to service- a service to my nation and to mankind. For my country, it also rubs off that a Nigerian is so recognised.
“Like I said earlier, Rotary International is a global body with values that I subscribe to. It is a service organisation committed to the uplifting of communities, and with over 1.2 million members worldwide, and over 6,000 in Nigeria. Service is key to its goals and I cherish that concept to know end, because one great legacy you can leave for humanity is how well you have positively contributed to it.
“Polio is a devastating disease. It demeans the afflicted and could weaken their capacity for productivity and the realisation of their full capacity. Nations thrive through the productivity of their human capital. If the human capital is weakened through deadly avoidable disease, then how can they function at the optimum level? I remember my childhood years, when I lost friends to polio and other dreaded diseases. I still see the effects of polio on the streets of Abuja and other places.
“Nigeria remains one of the few countries where polio is still prevalent, after many countries have succeeded in eradicating it. It is fair to ask therefore, why this terrible disease still exists in my beloved country, Nigeria. It is however gratifying also that we have the goodwill of the President Jonathan administration.”
On his contribution to fight the scourge, Offor said, “I said earlier that my contributions are both in kind and in cash, and we should not lay emphasis on just one of them. The focus should be on the passion for a cause, and not necessarily the quantification of our contributions. My contributions are essentially driven by the zeal to make the world better than I met it through my own “little corner”. Although we are charged with raising much needed funds, my personal goal is also to assist in persuading Nigeria’s leaders at all levels of government and civil society to create opportunities for the immunisation teams to do their work and to personally dedicate themselves to the polio eradication campaign.
“Starting with the dedication of the President, Nigeria’s national leadership is now fully committed to the eradication of polio campaign and state governors are also coming on board. We still have some work to do, however, to educate local, political, religious and civic leaders on the importance of this Initiative. This is an area where I have strong ties and where I hope to be able to help.
“It is my deepest hope that my financial contributions and my work with the Rotary leadership in Nigeria will inspire all Nigerians to work together to bring about the final, permanent and irreversible eradication of polio”, he added.