President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the 2016 National Budget being prepared by his administration will include fresh policies and measures to encourage the rapid diversification of the Nigerian economy away from its current over-dependence on the oil and gas sector.
Speaking at an audience with the President of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), Pierre Gattaz and a delegation of French investors, Mr. Buhari said that policies being evolved by his administration to boost domestic manufacturing and attract greater investment to Nigeria's agricultural and mining sectors will be given full effect under the 2016 budget.
The President, therefore, urged Mr. Gattaz and the French trade mission, which includes over 50 companies with interest in manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure development and other areas, to return to Nigeria again next year in order to take full advantage of the new policies.
Mr. Buhari also assured the French investors that under his leadership, Nigeria will not fall short of international standards in the protection of foreign investments and the repatriation of returns on such investments.
Agreeing that domestic security and the inflow of foreign investment were intrinsically linked, the President told the French investors, whose visit to Nigeria is a follow-up to his recent trip to Paris, that the Federal Government was taking all necessary measures to overcome Nigeria's security challenges.
"Our government came into office at a time when many people had abandoned the country's manufacturing, agricultural and mining sectors.
"We are doing our utmost best to encourage diversification into these sectors which can employ a lot of people and we will welcome your support in this regard.
"Ultimately, reducing unemployment will also help to improve security because unemployment and insecurity are inseparable," Mr. Buhari told the French investors.
The President said that Nigeria will also welcome more French investment in its power sector because availability of steady power supply will lead to the reopening of closed factories and the creation of more jobs.
He also assured the delegation that his administration was tackling corruption with vigour to ensure greater probity in the management of national resources.
The MEDEF President, who spoke on behalf of the French investors, sought assurances from President Buhari on the safety of their planned investments in Nigeria and the easing of bureaucratic bottlenecks.