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Foreign Investors and Nigeria's High Security Risk

The most deadly attack yet by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Friday attack on Kano that left about 200 dead people in it trail, is yet another reminder of the security situation Nigeria has found herself in the last two years. The other two attacks at Abuja, the Nigerian capital and evolving destination for tourists coming to the country, show how mercurial Boko Haram can be and it ability to strike far away from it comport zone, the North East. Though, the attacks from Niger Delta militant has subside since the coming into power of Good luck Jonathan, that does not mean the level of threat from that part of the country have reduced to the minimum as there is growing cases of Kidnapping of foreign and local expatriates. Then there is growing cases of arm robbery in all sections of the country that continue to strike at the heart of the country’s nascent economic growth and political stability. But, the most serious threat yet to the country’s ability to continue with it current chase for higher economic growth is the threat from Boko Haram, which is increasingly proving difficult for the Nigerian authorities to confront. Boko Haram, an Islamic sect, that originated from the North Eastern states of Borno and Yobe has promised to attack government installations especially security installations, and so far it has carried out it mission with zeal.

As one of the fastest growing economies on the continent, Nigeria a needs stable atmosphere to continue with its higher economic growth rate and for it to achieve its vision 2020:20 targets. Already the rate of economic growth this year is forecasted to be slightly lower than last year, due to among other factors increasing fear of continues insecurity. Inflation another important barometer is forecasted to increase; this together with depreciation in the value of Naira will make the atmosphere a lot hotter. Creaking infrastructure throughout the country, notwithstanding, foreign investors continue to pour their money into the country over the last one decade, but considering the current security threat some investors are bound to rethink their investment decisions on Nigeria. Just last week President Jonathan commissioned the Multi Billion Dollar Dangote cement factory in Ogun state, telling the world that very soon they will stop hearing the sounds of bombs but landmark investment like the plant he was commissioning. Whether the President delivers on that or not, the investment climate in Nigeria is going to be unpredictable in the foreseeable future, until the mounting security challenges facing this country are tackled. During the last year election, political risk was top on investors’ calculation, but this year it is insecurity. Though, so far security challenges remain confined to distance ends of the country, the recent Kano attacks have aroused the fear that the problem may, if appropriate measures are not taking, show it ugly face in some major economic centres of the country.

The decision of the federal government to sack the former inspector general of police hafiz Ringim, in order to rid the police of it current lackluster performance and brace it up for the current challenges, can only achieve it purpose when the government realize that like Nigeria itself the major problem of the police force is corruption. Over the years the level of corruption in the Nigerian police force both, in the offices and on the roads, has turned police officers from security agents to corruption agents. What a shame! Nigerian police as it is today with it ineffectiveness and corruption can not fight Boko Haram. Kano city is full of the stories of how police officers run for their dear lives when ever Boko Haram members visited any police station in Kano metropolitan. The only credible security force that is holding Nigeria together remain the Nigerian military, which despite the fact that it activities alone without other component strategies cannot fight Boko Haram, has hold it ground wherever it is deploy. But, the same problems of ineffectiveness and corruption that has killed the police is beginning to manifest itself in the military, and unless something is done the military will go the way of the police, albeit following a different route. At the root of Nigerian security threats is not even the Boko Haram that everybody is afraid of, it is the growing army of unemployed and poverty stricken families who are angry with the government inability to provide them with the basic necessities. Unless government urgently does something to address these issues the problem of insecurity will continue to linger in the foreseeable future.

Foreign investors, unlike domestic investors such as Dangote, are motivated by factors other than those that motivated domestic investors. For example, apart from the profit that they will realize from their investment, a major consideration for any investor is the security of his investment; if they are not sure of this, their firm belief in the country of their investments is weaken. So the first thing that any country that desire foreign investments does, is to guarantee the security of investors’ capital, and failure to do that reduces investments. Based on these premises one can argue that Jonathan’s efforts to woo foreign investors will be in vain if his administration fail to improve on the current security situation in the country. Thus, high on Jonathan agenda should be the creation of formidable police force capable of confronting any domestic security challenge, no matter how tough that challenge is. The recent appointment of MD Abubakar as the new acting inspector general of police is a well come development that shows this administration firm belief in finding people with the right qualifications and credibility to lead it reform process. But, a more important thing that this government must embark on is genuine creation of jobs for the teeming unemployed that are roaming our streets. Without creating jobs and alleviating poverty, Nigeria insecurity problems will not come to an end; likewise government should look for other solution to Boko Haram rather than the current use of force which will not deliver the desire result. Lastly, foreign investors are not philanthropist, they are profit chasing specie who do what ever they can to avoid making lost; the earlier Jonathan understand this the better for his administration drive to woo investors.

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