United Bank for Africa’s Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu, has enumerated sectors of the economy that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to focus on during his second term.
Speaking to Sky News on the issue of economic diversification in Nigeria, Elumelu disclosed that the Private sector and the small and medium scale enterprises need government’s support through business-friendly policies and financial aid.
To this end, Mr Elumelu said that one of the best ways government can grow the economy and encourage business development is to fix the power sector. In other words, the power sector is the most important sector the President Buhari should focus on.
“Power is critical. I know that access to electricity and improvement in that sector would help to governance and grow the economy and I believe this government will do that going forward.
“Another sector that is critical and important is the private sector and the small and medium scale enterprises. We know that countries that prioritise their small scale and medium enterprises do very well in creating employment and alleviating poverty.
“So I believe that the government in the second term will continue and even do more in supporting our small and medium scale enterprises through policies and incentives that will encourage these people. We are extremely enterprising, and our people just need more encouragement to do great things.”
On President Buhari not being market-friendly
Recall that following President Buhari’s re-election in February, the stock market was said to have reacted in the negative. President Buhari had defeated the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who was seen as being more market-friendly. Analysts, therefore, cited the re-election of President Buhari as the reason for the negative reaction of the stock market in Nigeria.
But the UBA Chairman disagreed. Reacting to the development, he said the market was unpredictable even before the election. Therefore, he doesn’t believe the outcome of the election caused the market’s negative reaction.
“The Nigerian stock market has been quite unpredictable. I don’t really think it fell as a result of the election. I believe with the election over now, the country is ready for business. I think things would even get better going forward.”
President Buhari’s close ties with China
Speaking further, Mr Elumelu explained why China and Nigeria’s trade relations have continued to grow amid despite the Asian country’s trade war with the United States of America.
According to him, Nigeria is a land of opportunity for anyone willing to do business or invest in businesses as Nigerians are enterprising, and the Chinese have identified the prospect in the country, even as Nigeria has opened its doors for the Asian tiger.
In recent years, China’s investments in Nigeria have increased, thereby solidifying the trade relations between the Asian and West African countries. And according to Mr Elumelu, more of such investments should be expected under President Buhari during his second term in office.
Note that Nigeria’s close economic ties with China have often been blamed for the US and the United Kingdom’s unwillingness to invest in Nigeria.
“I think nature abhors vacuum. Nigeria is up for business, Nigeria would want to attract investors. If the Chinese see Nigeria as a more hospitable and investment-friendly country, Nigerians are ready. The UK and US should show more interest.”
The motive behind the bank’s London expansion
UBA recently expanded its operations into London, with footprint already established in the United States. For Elumelu, the expansion is logical for an African bank looking to connect its millions of customers to the world.
He said the expansion into London was expected after making their presence in the US, stating that the UBA branch in the UK will support wholesale banking transactions.
“United Bank of Africa operates in twenty African countries, and it is the only African bank that operates and is regulated in the United States of America, and the natural and logical place to birth next is London.
“We are happy today because we’ve launched the United Bank of Africa in the UK to support wholesale banking transactions; there’s so much history that happened between Nigeria and the UK, between Africa and the UK, Africa and Europe, so we want to take advantage of our spread across Africa.
“Over 17 million customers to link them up with the rest of the world through our operation in New York and in London. So, as New York is going to sleep, London is waking up, all to make sure we continue to support our customers across the globe.”