President Muhamadu Buhari, who has been accused by the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, of damaging the image of Nigeria abroad by portraying his countrymen as criminals and corrupt charged Nigerians on Sunday to rekindle the spirit of patriotism and selfless service to attract foreign investments.
PDP has argued many times that by repeatedly describing Nigeria as a lawless land where corruption is widespread and crime is ubiquitous, Buhari has done more damage to the image of Nigeria than any president before him, and has, by those damaging words, scared away more investors than all the past leaders combined.
The job of a president, many have argued, is to sell the image of his country abroad and not to damage it.
But on Sunday, Buhari said if Nigerians could be more patriotic, investors would come. The President was speaking at a town hall meeting with members of the Nigerian community in Doha, Qatar, his spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement.
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He assured them that the Federal Government would continue to create the enabling environment for investments in the country, anchored on peace and security.
“We have abundant natural and human resources in the country, including huge oil and gas deposit.
“But the challenge is securing those installations and to persuade some of our countrymen to be more patriotic and stop sabotaging the installations.
“When people are being abducted and some are being murdered, when installations are being blown up now and then, the incentives for people to invest in our infrastructure is quite slim’’.
President Buhari also promised to look into the complaints of alleged blanket denial of visas to families and relatives of Nigerians intending to visit the State of Qatar.
“Like I tell other Nigerians living in other countries, you must be good ambassadors of the country because globally things are quite difficult in terms of security and the economy.
“If you have something doing, please hold it tight to your heart and try to improve on it because things are quite difficult all over.
“For us in Nigeria, we are trying to do our best to reduce unemployment and we realised this quite early enough, that is why we campaigned on the diversification of the economy.
“We have to go back to agriculture, like in the good old days of cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, cottons, groundnuts, hides and skins’’.
Buhari also declared that Boko Haram terrorists have been so weakened that they no longer control any of the 14 local government areas they were in charge of before he came to power on 29 May.
“When we came in May 2015, the Boko Haram were effectively holding 14 local governments out of 774 local governments in Nigeria but today they are not holding a single local government,’’ Buhari said.
He said the military and law enforcement agencies were working very hard to prevent and counter Boko Haram attacks on soft targets in the country.
But many had said that Buhari squandered the momentum gained during the dying days of former President Goodluck Jonathan when the terrorists were on the run and virtually all the councils were taken back from them.