In recognition of President Bola Tinubu’s determined global push to aggressively attract foreign direct investment into Nigeria, the world’s second largest stock exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (NASDAQ), on Wednesday in the world’s financial capital, invited President Tinubu to ring the closing bell, making him the first African President to ever receive the honour.
Using the opportunity, President Tinubu called on foreign investors to bring their capital into the country as his government is working on easing the free flow of capital.
Speaking just before he rang the Closing Bell of NASDAQ, New York, a ceremony organised by United States Chamber of Commerce, Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) and Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), the president noted that his administration is actively working on reducing bottlenecks to ease the free flow of capital for investors.
“It is not about if Nigeria is open for business, it is about who wants to do business with Nigeria. Our administration has moved the exchange rate regime to a managed float and removed fuel subsidy. I call on you to come and invest in Nigeria,” he stated.
The President, surrounded by Nigerian business leaders and officials of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), in trademark fashion, did not fail to seize the opportunity presented by the historic moment to boldly advance his foreign investment push as he stood, live, in front of financial markets at the famous stock exchange, presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement.
“It’s a great honour for me to be here. I am happy to bring Nigeria to your doorsteps and I am honoured that we are here today with a bubbling Nigerian stock market that will evolve in the West African sub-region.
The greatest economy in Africa is Nigeria, there is an immense opportunity in Nigeria where you can invest your money without fear,” the President said.
The President noted that his government continues to address long standing problems and impediments, such as his work to restore and unify the foreign exchange rate market to a stable and trustworthy level, allowing new investors to seamlessly bring their money into the country, free of worries about whether or not they can take their money out at any point in time.
“You’re free to take in your money and bring out your money. I count on you to invest in Nigeria,” the President exclaimed under the lights.
At the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable held just after the closing bell, President Tinubu assured prospective investors that while he recognizes that investment capital is cowardly in nature, he intentionally brought successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans respectively, in addition to all that he has already done to boost the confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria’s presently reforming fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy environment.
“Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world. We have brilliant young people who both innovate and consume at a large scale.
Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market totally unique, aside from demography. Nigerians build businesses and Nigerian businesses partner with other businesses to conduct larger business.
There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria. You may be dissuaded out of a major opportunity that others will take up.
We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly,” the President assured the roundtable as he pointed out cabinet officials.
On behalf of the U.S. Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, told U.S. business leaders that he was just a few hours removed from arriving in New York from Lagos, Nigeria, where he was on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.
“In Lagos, I saw first hand some of the major reforms you implemented as the Governor of Lagos and the transformative effect it has had on Nigeria’s commercial capital.
People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as President are quickly enhancing confidence. American business is paying attention to that and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment.
We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen,” Adeyemo said.
The American Business Council President, Sops Ideriah, said that the extensive turnout at the roundtable by American Business Chief Executives served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of President Bola Tinubu’s administration with respect to ease of business, investment promotion, and his willingness to personally intervene where required to ease the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.
“Having all the stakeholders in the room, His Excellency the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria.
We are very positive about the potential of Nigeria and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Ideriah said.
Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji, assured the American Captains of Industry that under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, the nation’s apex tax authority will be focusing its efforts not on taxing the seed, but only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry, through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.
“The President is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared toward making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible.
We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment,” Nigeria’s new tax boss affirmed.
At the same event, the chairman of NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, urged the President to lead the capital market reforms that will drive the actualisation of his mandate of double-digit economic growth for Nigeria.
“Under President Tinubu’s leadership, the country has made significant strides. The removal of fuel subsidies and liberalisation of the foreign exchange market have boosted confidence in our capital market, with the Nigerian Exchange Limited’s All-Share Index surging by 29.04 per cent since inauguration,” he added.
He noted that, while this represents success, significant opportunities lie ahead and the capital market is in more need of reforms that can further unlock increased prosperity for the Nigerian economy.
Citing the reforms, the chairman highlighted legislative adjustments that will make listing more attractive and urged the president to champion the reforms.
Kwairanga also called for deepening of pension reforms and amendments to regulations governing free zone companies to facilitate their access to the capital market through listings.
He added that Tinubu should work towards enacting policies to enable dollar-denominated transactions to unlock further capital into the country.
The closing bell ceremony was part of events lined up in the NGX Roadshow, supported by Stanbic IBTC, CardinalStone Partners and Chapel Hill Denham. Kwairanga also nudged the US business community to explore more partnership avenues with Nigeria.