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FG battles UK former Secretary of State over call on investors to be wary of Nigeria

The office of the President has condemned a statement credited to former Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom, Ms Priti Patel, calling on investors to be wary about investing in Nigeria.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, released a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, condemning Patel’s statement.

Patel had also alleged that in spite of the president’s anti-corruption platform, Nigeria had not seen any reduction in corruption since the inception of the Buhari administration.

According to the presidency, “Trumpeting a so-called Transparency International report is a false fabrication that cannot be supported by the facts on the ground.’’

Shehu said, the wicked proposition is lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts.

He added that the issue raised by Patel about lack of security of investment was equally false and untenable.

“Nigerian has recognized the right of the investor, both local and foreign, as enshrined in our Constitution which states clearly that no investment can be taken from its owners without recourse to the law.

“Given the Constitution, you don’t even need international protection for assets held in this country. In addition to the Constitution, there exist several laws allowing protection for investments.

“Beyond this, this administration has moved forward by recognizing arbitration processes. The judiciary in the country has a Practice Code to give legitimacy to awards and arbitration clauses in agreements.

“Cumulatively, we have established a proper climate of investment on account of which, the nation has gained 24 points of excellence in the global ease of doing business index,’’ it explained.

Shehu also pointed out that in Patel’s main case of the 2010 agreement between “NNPC and P&ID for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.”

The presidency stated that the project fell through after a “past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments,

“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute.

“What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past.’’

It observed that the Buhari administration had done well in policy decisions, saying that the administration had put in place instruments that had extraordinarily and unprecedentedly reduced corruption and corrupt practices.

According to it, the Buhari administration has achieved 1,360 per cent cash recoveries in three years than the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party was only N2 billion.

“This account has succeeded in netting over N400 billion as of today, translating to 1,360 per cent increase. This cannot amount to nothing in terms of progress,’’ it said.

The statement also noted that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had led to greater visibility and control of government funds by way of consolidating government resources in an account as against the past where such accounts were scattered.

It said that Bank Verification Number (BVN) scheme had equally helped the government to prevent money laundering, financing terrorism and illicit cash transfers.

“This administration has introduced the IPPS, whose implementation has led to an extra-ordinary reduction of ghost workers, saving the treasury billions of naira, every month.

“The Whistle Blower mechanism put in place has yielded enormously to the treasury and reduced corruption.

“In addition to several and urgent legislations targeted at the reduction of corruption, the administration has equally signed highly rewarding Mutual Legal Assistance with countries that have translated to tremendous recoveries,’’ it said.

The government recalled that before the inception of present administration, there existed a racket encompassing elements in the three arms of government, “through the activities of which artificial, engineered and factored breaches of contract were made.

“In the fullness of time, more will be said by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.’’

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