21 September 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria

 


Nigeria’s underdeveloped infrastructure provided a prime opportunity for investment, according to the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Odein Ajumogobia.


“ Nigeria is stable,” Mr. Ajumogobia said at a Headquarters press conference today.  “We have come through a difficult period at the end of last year, but the new President has with a steady hand brought peace and security to many parts of the Niger Delta, which was an area that had created concern.”  Amnesty programmes were continuing, and efforts were being made to rehabilitate former militants.


In light of that progress, the situation in the country was conducive to investments, the Minister said, adding that, as had just been discussed at one of the round tables being held in parallel with the Summit, there were abundant opportunities to invest in infrastructure, rapidly growing telecom markets and gas flaring.  While Nigeria remained committed to renewable energy sources, harnessing its gas resources was another new area for growth.


Mr. Ajumogobia said that since independence in 1960, Nigeria had been involved in peacekeeping efforts across the world.  As the country celebrated its first 50 years of independence during the sixty-fifth General Assembly, it was time to reflect on its role in global affairs and within the United Nations system.


He said that, with five years remaining to meet the Millennium Development Goals, Nigeria was reviewing its own progress and addressing “certain cultural inhibitions” with which it must contend in order to educate the population on addressing particular challenges.  Areas requiring special attention included infant mortality and women’s issues, he added.


Introducing Mr. Ajumogobia, Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, noted that prior to his appointment as Foreign Minister in April, he had served as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and as Minister of State for Energy.


Asked to comment on a recent statement by the Prime Minister of Norway to the effect that developing countries needed to take the initiative in channelling local resources into efficient ways to combat poverty, the Minister said that, while the fundamental responsibility lay with the developing countries, they needed help.  Nigeria and the rest of Africa must harness their vast available resources, but they required private sector investment to do so.


To a question about remuneration for African Union peacekeeping troops, he replied that he believed in equal pay for equal work, which was “only reasonable”.


Responding to a question about renewable energy sources and the developing world, he stressed that Nigeria was one of the “greatest victims” of climate change, and felt a more significant impact than the greatest polluters.  It was only fair to adopt a common but differential approach reflecting the fact that the greatest victims polluted least, he said, adding that benefits should therefore be distributed with that in mind.  Developing countries should not be unduly burdened by costs.


Asked what Nigeria was seeking in terms of investment, Mr. Ajumogobia said the country’s 2020 road map contained a detailed vision designed to develop and expand the economy until it counted among the world’s top 20.  That was clearly an ambitious goal, but Nigeria possessed the economic incentives to back it up, he said.


Despite being one of the most maligned countries in the world, many companies were doing well in Nigeria, he said, reiterating that its “embarrassingly low” infrastructure was clearly a huge opportunity for the private sector.  China, for one, had expressed significant interest in offering infrastructure in exchange for energy, he noted, emphasizing, however, that while that was an attractive proposition, Nigeria would continue to do business with its traditional partners.


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For information media • not an official record