By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed , has asserted that Nigeria had become a pariah state under former President Goodluck Jonathan before President Muhammadu Buhari came to its rescue.
Mohammed spoke at a press briefing after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Buhari at the Aso Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, the situation was so precarious that no serious investor or country was willing to do business in Nigeria mainly due to insecurity and corruption that had permeated the country.
The Information Minister who addressed State House Correspondents jointly with his Environment counterpart, Amina Ibrahim, was speaking in defence of the frequent foreign trips that Buhari had been embarking on since his swearing-in last May.
They both argued that the trips which have become a subject of heavy criticism of the President in recent times were the pills that would heal the country of its pariah status.
According to them, a review of the about four of those trips embarked upon by Buhari in November and December was what engaged the attention of the cabinet members at Wednesday’s FEC meeting.
Lai Mohammed said: “You do not run a country by being isolated, and the personal presence of the President in many of these fora is very important because before now we were almost a pariah state and the two things that have been driving investments away from this country is terrorism and
“One thing that nobody can fault this President on is his determination to fight these two ills. Mr President’s presence in these fora is very crucial even to the economy back at home
“What I mean that Nigeria was a pariah state, is that before now the level of corruption was very high that nobody was ready to risk his investment in Nigeria.
“The cost of doing business was so high that most international businessmen didn’t want to come here. Who is coming to invest in a country where there is insecurity. These are the twin problems that Mr President has addressed in the last nine months.”
The Minister’s declaration, however, runs counter to claims by the former administration that it handed over the largest economy in the African continent to its successor.
Taking a cue from her Information counterpart, the Environment Minister who read the memo and FEC’s resolution on Buhari’s foreign trips at the press briefing, said the hue and cry over them was unnecessary especially since Vice President Osinbajo and other cabinet members were always around in the President’s absence to oversee state matters.
She stated that the strong leadership being provided by Buhari was a big investment for the country and it was reaping commensurate returns from it in the course of the travels.
She said: “strong leadership, that is our investment. The President
doesn’t stand alone, he has a Vice President and a cabinet. The
cabinet stays with the Vice President here as much as possible to try
to address those challenges you are talking about on a daily basis.
“But the investment that we make with the President’s travel is well
worth the investment we are getting from those visits. We hope to see
the President going out and advocating for this country to get more
investment so that we can take everyone out of poverty. That is really
what is important. We see it as an investment with a return worthwhile.”
Some of the presidential trips the FEC took time to review were those to Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta; Climate Change Summit in France; Gas Producers Summit in Iran and China-Africa conference in South Africa among others.
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.