As the Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrates the golden jubilee, we have grounds for both introspection and celebration.
In 50 years, Nigeria has done well, overcoming the teething problems of a newly independent nation and upholding unity and progress. Internationally, Nigeria has played commendable roles towards the sustenance of world peace, even at a great cost, and will continue to strive for excellence in the discharge of its obligations both at home and abroad.
On the economic front, Nigeria put in place institutions and processes that will conduce to its growth from a developing to a developed nation. At the moment, the economy is growing at 7 per cent and is projected to increase from year to year as the nation proceeds with the implementation of reform programmes.
Nigeria has recorded giant strides in many specific areas. The telecom revolution, for instance, has made Nigeria Africa’s largest online audience and put mobile phones in the hands of more Nigerians (rich and poor) than anywhere else on the African continent, thereby helping access to information. The capital markets are consolidating and deepening. Nigerian firms and banks are growing in stature, building international reputations.
A report commissioned by the British Council and published in September 2010 indicated that Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history, with the average Nigerian three times richer by 2030 if appropriate targets are met.
Nigeria had also made tremendous efforts to strengthen its institutional structures to combat corruption, financial crimes and other vices like human and drug trafficking.
The financial sector is being reformed to make it more accountable and transparent.
All this is to ensure that the country enjoys political stability, social harmony and economic growth.
Nigeria has become an important destination for serious-minded investors in view of its large population, estimated at 150 million people. This market, coupled with the federal government’s infrastructure development programmes, has made returns on investments better than in many other parts of the world.
Foreign investments are welcome in many areas of the economy, including petroleum and gas industry, solid minerals, mining, power generation, iron and steel, telecommunications, banking and finance, tourism, etc. The country welcomes genuine business entities and persons wishing to invest in Nigeria and is ready to facilitate such efforts.
On the political front, good governance, strict adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights remain fundamental tenets of the Nigerian government. Safeguarding our democracy is a task on which we are beginning to see positive result. The smooth succession of power since the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999 is a testimony to the commitment of all stakeholders to democratic governance, in the knowledge that political stability is imperative for national development.
As a nation only 50 years old, Nigeria has, of course, its fair share of challenges it must overcome. Here, the country counts on the support of all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria at home and abroad to realise its aspirations.
The writer is Nigeria’s ambassador to Amman. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
*Published by the Jordan-based THE JORDAN TIMES on Oct. 1, 2010