I’ll change Nigeria’s crawling narrative, Tinubu tells German Chancellor


… Assures distraction of elections litigation over

…Says ‘we’ll receive over 12,000 asylum seekers risking deportation’

By Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu said Sunday that even though Nigeria is still crawling, his administration would change the narrative and bring about a transformative government in the country.

The President said this at the Presidential Villa in Abuja during Bilateral Political Talks with the German Chancellor Mr Olaf Scholz, who is on a state visit to Nigeria.

“Nigeria is still crawling, but we are determined to change the narrative and bring about a transformative government in the country,” he said. 

The President said his administration has done alot to tackle the issue of insecurity in the country, stressing that Nigeria still needs support to be able to sustain democracy.

“We have gone a long way to bring about the security of our people. We’re fighting terrorism and that is improving. We still need support very much in that area. And for us to be able to sustain democracy, rule of law and freedom for our people, we need to fight for democracy. And democracy must win at all times for us to meet the expectation of an African dream.

“That is why your visit this time around is more than necessary and welcome. I hope you will enjoy yourself. You would have noticed; I don’t need to go about the various problems happening in the Sahel region of Africa. You’ve seen and noticed the coup in Guinea and recently in Niger republic.

“We have people diplomatically managing the situation. The need for you to help in that of security will be empahsised and we will continue to require your knowledge.

“We thank you for the past contributions, particularly police, law enforcement training. We need more help,” he said.

Speaking on his victory at the Supreme Court over election dispute, the President said the distraction was over. 

He said the final decision of the apex court gives his administration time to focus on governance for the people and moving Nigeria forward for economic opportunities and prosperity.

“It is a profound pleasure for me to welcome my friend Olaf Scholz to Nigeria. It is a joy to see you here. At this particular period of time. It was just about a few days ago that the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had a final say on our electoral exercise. The distraction is over.

“This gives us more time to focus on governance for the people and moving Nigeria forward for economic opportunities and prosperity that will defend democracy,” he said. 

The President commended the German Chancellor for keeping his promise of visiting Nigeria, assuring that the country’s economic team were ready to partner “with Germany as the largest economy in Europe.” 

“We are blessed with a good environment, weather and mineral resources. Our hydrocarbon industry is still fledging environmentally while we are moving towards the transition energy source.

“I know Germany has advanced a lot in protecting the environment and modernising energy to meet the 21st century needs of both the world and Europe in particular,” he said.

Speaking at the Government-to-Business Roundtable, the President told the visitors that his administration is conversant with the characteristics of a typical business environment, hence the reason for the series of reforms and policy readjustments the nation has seen in recent times.

He said much had been put in place, including tax reforms to free the system of multiple taxations, to ensure foreign investments are preserved and returns multiplied.

“Nigeria has gone through a lot of reforms, yet we cannot be 100% sure everything goes smoothly. Some of you might not be here while we were discussing the rule of law, I know…for businesses, particularly investors, because I’ve been in that environment before, I am from that constituency; I was once a Treasurer ExxonMobile in Nigeria, so I can understand the pain and delays of investment, I can understand the pain and delays of conflict in any business partnership and you cannot remove conflicts from the process, but you can minimize it. But how well the investor’s investment is protected is very clearly very important.

“Investment is cowardly, it doesn’t like delays and conflicts, it will run away, we understand that. Equally, time management, to promote efficiency and smooth operation under the rule of law is crucially important.

“We are reforming our economic and business environment to promote efficiency. You might have read or been aware that we have removed oil subsidies, we’re going through tax reforms to eliminate double taxation and give you better returns on investments and there are principles that will ensure your investments grow well and are protected.

“We definitely welcome you to the collaboration, we’re happy this is happening to us. I believe that my friend will add more to the value of Nigeria’s environment. We have discussed that, I’ve made a commitment to you that we’ll promote the efficiency, ease-of-doing-business and remove all conflict areas that might be possible immediately,” he said.

Responding to a question on federal government refusing to accept over 12,000 Nigerians seeking asylum in Germany that risk deportation, the President said they were welcome to return home.

He said the two countries were working on regularising the stay of those who are economic refugees according to the immigration law of the country.

“We had a very deep discussion on this and you have to separate the economic refugees from real refugees. We have a programme to work in partnership to really ensure normal migration and deepen the relationship in that area. I’m not making any demands, if they are Nigerian citizens, they are Nigerian citizens, and they are welcome back home.

“Nothing should send them away. We are ready to enter into partnership to improve the migration situation since other young and vibrant people can go through the process according to the immigration law of the country to accept them as long as they are of good behaviour and good character. We are ready to work together in that direction,” he said. 

Also speaking, the German Chancellor, Mr Olaf Scholz said the debate is on and very soon the gray areas will be fixed.

“The first is yes, there is a need in Germany for people that have talent and that want to work in our country in a way which is a regular path for migrants. 

“And we are working intensely in this field and we want to get more progress and get things agreed in detail. And the second is that part of this is also an agreement that those who have not the right to stay in my country can go back and should go back and this is part of something that is a win-win story for the two countries and in this sense, we had a debate and I think we will fix it very soon,” he said.

The German Chancellor also assured Tinubu that the country was committed to democracy and the rule of law.

“We are all committed to democracy and the rule of law. And it is important for us to make this a lifestyle for countries. It is good for a better future for our people. And so I’m very happy that we can work on this discussion,” he said. 

He assured that Germany would continue to support Nigeria in addressing the issue of insecurity.

“I can assure you that we will continue our support and our cooperation also in this field. 

“One of the main aspects for cooperation will be developing the economy and using the economic opportunities of your country. 

“As you already said, there are a lot of chances not just from gas and oil, which is traditionally linked to your country, but there’s a lot of room for improvement and for better using the capacities of your country, but also for going into investments for the future, which is about hydrogen and all the things that are important for an economy that is able to produce all the necessary goods for the people without harming the environment.

“It is also important that we use the way of developing your economy in the fields of the minerals you have. I think that the investments into this structure must be easy, but also beneficial for your country,” he said.