Yewande Sadiku: Task with reforming NIPC and her many battles

Yewande Sadiku: Task with reforming NIPC and her many battles
Ms Sadiku

Yewande Sadiku, a top investment banker has had a troubled tenure after leaving her lucrative career to lead Nigeria’s investment promotion commission.

In about a month from today, the tenure of Yewande Sadiku as executive secretary and CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) will end. Appointed to the position on September 26, 2016, her five-year term will expire on Sunday, September 26 this year.

So far, Ms Sadiku has demonstrated zero interest in being reappointed for a second tenure even though she is eligible for it and the government appears willing to keep her in the post for another five years. Those close to her say she has clearly told the Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who oversees her agency, that she is not interested in staying in office a day longer than September 26.

“I think the minister has respected her decision and a replacement is already being sought for her,” a ministry official said.

Ms Sadiku’s decision not to seek or accept reappointment appears understandable. The 49-year-old investment banker left her high-profile job as executive director at Stanbic/IBTC bank to accept the NIPC position due to what she described as a strong desire to serve her country.

She was sceptical of government appointments, those who know her well said. But she also believed it would be a worthy service to her country if she could help to reform the NIPC and consequently enhance the country’s ability to attract and retain foreign investments.

Ms Sadiku was offered the position based on her track record as an accomplished and respected investment banker, as well as a diligent, knowledgeable, upright and incorruptible professional, a former official of the trade and investment ministry said.

“She has a strong personality,” yet another official said of the NIPC chief. “She is brilliant, she knows her stuff, she will always insist on what she believes to be right. She always insists on correct interpretations of the law.” The two officials asked not to be named because it was not their duty to discuss matters and officials of the ministry.

In accepting the NIPC job, Ms Sadiku made a financial sacrifice by taking a massive cut in her yearly income, findings by this newspaper show. For instance, as executive director at Stanbic/IBTC Bank, Ms Sadiku earned above N53.7million a year as of September 2016 when she accepted the NIPC job. Her cumulative salary as CEO of the investment agency is N11.4 million a year.

Ms Sadiku and her unending battles

But no sooner did she assume duties than her battle with entrenched interests began, with her vision of making the 26-year-old agency a transparent, effective and result-oriented one running into stormy waters.

Ms Sadiku has had a troubled term in office, characterised by widespread allegations of corruption, lawsuits, repeated strike actions by union members and attacks by some members of the agency’s governing board.

She has been sued and widely maligned in the media. She has been locked out of her offices no fewer than four times. Governing Council members, union leaders and other interests, including some staff members who missed promotions because they failed promotion exams, have relentlessly put pressure on the presidency and the minister of trade and investment to remove her from office.

Known and unknown persons have petitioned and called in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Bureau of Public Procurement, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the State Security Service, the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Office of the Head of Service, the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and the Presidency to probe her.

However, the allegations against her and for which the various agencies were contacted are unsubstantiated. Documents reviewed by this newspaper and information obtained from some of these agencies indicate that no wrongdoing has so far been established against her.

Yet the attacks on her and her administration remained unceasing, giving credence to claims by those who described her as a “reform champion facing resistance from her staff, board members and other interests who are stuck in crooked old ways”.

Ms Sadiku is, perhaps, one of the most investigated public figures in Nigeria. For the about five years she has been in office, she has been summoned by almost all the country’s major investigative authorities to respond to allegations contained in the myriad of petitions against her, most of them masterminded by her own staff, union members, two members of the organisation’s governing board and other interest groups largely instigated by those who wanted her removed from office.

For instance, the official spent August 9 and 10 at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja answering questions from detectives investigating four new petitions submitted against her by Global Peace Mission, Messrs Emenike Chambers, and Ahmad Isah Ghondi, a director at the NIPC. At the end of the interrogation session on August 10, Ms Sadiku’s apartment was searched by EFCC detectives who claimed they were searching for incriminating evidence against her. They found nothing but they left Ms Sadiku distraught and humiliated.

On August 10, the NIPC management issued a statement explaining Ms Sadiku’s visit to the EFCC and vouching for her integrity. “Management clarifies that Ms Yewande Sadiku voluntarily honoured an invitation by the EFCC and responded to the issues raised,” the statement said. “Management affirms that Yewande Sadiku is a diligent public servant who is proud of her service to Nigeria. She is deeply committed to governance and accountability and therefore challenges anyone with evidence of any wrongdoing by her in her service to the NIPC to make it public. The petitions being investigated by EFCC contain issues that have been investigated by other anti-corruption agencies, none of whom has indicated that she has any case to answer.”

Earlier on February 27, she had spent four hours with investigators of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) after an unnamed staff of her agency petitioned the CCB, accusing her of breaching the country’s code of conduct for public officeholders. Ms Sadiku denied any wrongdoing and the CCB has brought no charges suggesting it realised that the allegations against her were possibly baseless.

Three days earlier, on February 24, the leadership of the NIPC branch of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) led its members to block entrances to the headquarters of the commission in Abuja. The protesting staff accused Ms Sadiku of ‘executive felonies’ and called for her immediate removal and prosecution.

For days, the official shuttled between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (her parent ministry) and the Ministry of Labour and Productivity for prolonged negotiations as she battled to get the protesting staff to sheathe their swords and allow normalcy to return to an agency with the onerous responsibility of growing and easing investments in Africa’s largest economy. On Monday, March 1, after a marathon meeting, the union unblocked access to the NIPC headquarters. No wrongdoing was established against the NIPC chief.

After reviewing tons of documents and interviewing persons familiar with Ms Sadiku’s stewardship at the NIPC, this newspaper was able to determine that her troubles may have little to do with any wrongdoing. Rather, she appeared to have been targeted for her principled stance on the running of the NIPC. Her traducers, we found, became angry with her because she insisted on due process and professionalism, sticking to rules in procurement, avoiding corruption, never cutting corners and never allowing anyone to do so.

“Yewande Sadiku is one of the most credible and honest public servants I have met in Nigeria,” Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, tweeted on August 9, in reaction to Ms Sadiku’s interrogation by the EFCC. “@officialEFCC is demonstrably backing up the wrong tree on this one. They only embarrass themselves with this clear abuse of power.”

At the centre of the battle with Ms Sadiku are two members of the agency’s governing body – Raphael Sambo, a monarch and businessman, and Ali Sani, a former local government chairperson. The two council members began fighting her shortly after the Council was inaugurated in early 2018. It is unclear why the two personalities are crossed with her. But insiders at the NIPC said Ms Sadiku has consistently stuck by the rules making it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to illegitimately benefit from contracts, employment quotas and other illegal largesses to which appointees usually feel entitled.

For example, on July 4, 2018, an apparently worried Ms Sadiku wrote to the then Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, lamenting that some board members’ demands and expectations were “increasingly becoming a distraction”. She was reporting the outcome of a June 27, 2018 board meeting where she said members escalated demands suggesting “a disturbing gap between their expectations of NIPC and the reality of the agency”.

Among other resolutions, she said, Council members indicated their desire to be part of the day-to-day running of the agency including the processing of applications for Pioneer Status Incentive, and joining verification visits to applicant companies.

She said some members also indicated “they are unhappy with the allowances provided for parastatal board members by extant Circulars and in particular with the provision that requires them to fly in economy class, and believe I should use my discretion to approve an increase in benefits even if not supported by any provisions.”

According to Ms Sadiku, they also requested that at least two board members should accompany the agency’s management on all foreign trips, while they should all be invited to all domestic NIPC events.

In wrapping up her letter, the NIPC CEO told the minister that she was “willing to accommodate requests from the Council to the extent that they are reasonable and defensible.”

When some board members tried to usurp the powers of NIPC management, Ms Sadiku stood up to them, and then called on the trade and investment minister to call them to order.

Ms Sadiku believes her resistance to unreasonable and indefensible actions and requests by some board members and other interests opened her to battles on multiple fronts.

“I have had to stand up to many people who are used to getting their way,” she said. “But pushing back against them is the best I can do.”

The Chairperson of the Board, Babangida Nguroje, did not answer or return multiple calls made to him by this reporter. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him. So also is Mr Sambo, a member who co-signed some of the petitions against Ms Sadiku.

Another board member contacted, Lowo Obisesan, declined to comment for this story, saying he was not willing to discuss the matter on the telephone.

Mr Sani, Mr Sadiku’s most vociferous critic, who is currently travelling in the U.S., said his actions were meant to hold the NIPC CEO accountable and deepen probity and service delivery at the investment promotion agency. He suggested that he might file more court cases against her on his return, in addition to the one that is ongoing.

In the unending battle with Ms Sadiku, the two board members were soon joined by a director in the organisation, Ahmad Isah Ghondi, the leaders and some members of the NIPC branch of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, and several anonymous petitioners who have so far consistently peppered her with petitions to authorities, bad publicity, strikes and protests.

Mr Ghondi, the NIPC director who wrote the latest petitions to the EFCC, has been angry with Ms Sadiku since 2016, documents seen by this newspaper showed. He had written a promotion exam that year but failed and was therefore not promoted. According to details of the result presented by the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, the official scored 52 per cent, far below the 75 per cent cut-off mark for promotion from the rank of deputy to the position of director. Mr Ghondi was eventually promoted last year after he was able to cross the new 60 per cent cut-off line. But he remained unhappy with Ms Sadiku over his delayed promotion, those familiar with his case said. He wants her removed from office and prosecuted.

There are several allegations against Ms Sadiku including one that accused her of failing to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections. Some petitioners wanted her removed for disciplining recalcitrant personnel, for allegedly lacking administrative acumen and for allegedly refusing to provide financial support to sick staff members.

She was also accused of displaying know-it-all-attitude, casting aspersion on innocent staff of the commission, sacking some staff members from the North, attracting bad publicity for the NIPC and committing economic sabotage against Nigeria. No strong evidence was provided to back some of these allegations.

But there are also some strong allegations made against Ms Sadiku, which PREMIUM TIMES investigated. They are as follows:

Embarking on fake foreign trips and travels for “friends, personal domestic staff and family members”

One prominent and consistent allegation against Ms Sadiku in almost all the petitions against her was that she embarked on pleasure trips with family members on taxpayers’ money.

FINDING: We reviewed records of all Ms Sadiku’s official trips between 2016 and 2020. There is no evidence that “friends, personal domestic staff and family members” were on any of the trips. We also found that the estacode paid to her in relation to each trip was in compliance with government-approved rates. Besides, the NIPC CEO obtained approvals for her trips from her supervisory minister and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), in line with government circular on foreign trips by appointees.

Concerning allegations that she violated rules by travelling business class, our checks showed that she committed no wrongdoing in this aspect because Section 6 (1) of the NIPC Act equated her position to that of a federal permanent secretary who is allowed by extant government regulation to fly in that class. Ms Sadiku also obtained a written confirmation from the SGF indicating she was eligible to travel business class.

Illegal award of contract to Michael Jacobs Consulting Limited

Some board and staff members accused Ms Sadiku of fraudulently awarding a N10.7 million contract to a Nigerian firm, Messrs Michael Jacobs Consulting Limited, for the supply of computer consumables.

FINDING: Our investigations showed that the NIPC advertised an announcement on May 20, 2019, asking interested Nigerian firms to bid for the supply of computer consumables. By July 4, 2019, when the deadline for submission of bids closed, 12 applications had been received.

The bids were then opened and it was determined that of the tenders received, Micheal Jacobs presented the lowest bid amount of N10,712,100. The company was therefore awarded the contract and the goods were fully supplied on October 8, 2019.

But after the goods were supplied and prepayment due diligence began, NIPC staff members noticed some discrepancies in the name of the contractor. On the cover page of the bid documents it submitted, the contractor gave “Michael Jacobs Limited” as its name. But all statutory documents submitted bore “Michael Jacobs Consulting Limited”.

There was a logjam and the NIPC could not proceed to pay the contractor even though the goods supplied were already in use. The agency engaged the Bureau of Public Procurement on the matter and then asked the contractor to clarify the irregularity in its name. The contractor provided three sworn affidavits clarifying that the presentation of its name as “Michael Jacobs Limited” was made in error.

Eventually, the correct legal status of the contractor was established after which the procurement contract was corrected in June 2020 to reflect Michael Jacobs Consulting Limited, consistent with the statutory documents submitted at the time of the competitive bid in July 2019. The contractor was only paid on September 8, 2020, months after the discrepancies regarding the company’s name were fully resolved. So, the allegation that Ms Sadiku’s NIPC awarded the contract to a non-existent firm is misleading.

Unauthorised spending of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)

In several petitions to anti-corruption agencies, the accountant-general of the federation and the presidency, two members of the governing councils and union leaders accused Ms Sadiku of unauthorised expenditure of revenue internally generated by the agency.

FINDING: The documents we reviewed showed that as required by the NIPC Act, the governing council approved the agency’s IGR budgets for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The budgets were then submitted to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (HMITI) for approval, in line with Section 15(1) of the NIPC Act, which states that: “The Council shall cause to be prepared, not later than 30 September in each year, an estimate of the expenditure and income of the Commission during the next succeeding year and when prepared, they shall be submitted through the Minister for approval by the President.”

In an interview, Mr Sani, one of the two board members opposed to Ms Sadiku, said despite approval by the board and the president, the NIPC CEO was wrong to spend IGR funds without appropriation by the National Assembly. He quoted Section 80 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution to back his argument. That section states that: “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.”

When we put Mr Sani’s argument to her, Ms Sadiku countered, saying Section 80(3) of the same constitution allows agencies to spend from their IGRs. That section states that: “No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.”

She said Section 12 of the NIPC Act empowers NIPC to expend funds generated from “any fees charged for services rendered by the Commission”, “towards the discharge of its functions.”

“The NIPC Act which authorises the utilisation of funds from our IGR is an Act of the National Assembly,” Ms Sadiku told PREMIUM TIMES. “So we are in compliance with the Constitution and the NIPC Act.”

Mr Sani has also tested his argument on the IGR expenditure in court. In December 2019, he instituted a case on the matter against Ms Sadiku, the NIPC, and its board chairperson, Mr Nguroje. On December 19, 2019, he obtained an ex parte order restraining the NIPC from spending from its IGR.

However, on May 13, 2020, the Federal High Court decided the case in NIPC’s favour, saying, among other rulings, that it cannot grant relief to restrain an executive body from its statutory powers. Mr Sani immediately appealed the judgment.

Ms Sadiku said until it was vacated the ex parte order obtained by Mr Sani brought “a substantial part of NIPC’s operations to a halt and made it impossible to meet financial obligations to third parties since NIPC funds most of its operational expenses from IGR.”

Allocating illegal foreign leave allowance to herself

Board members, Messrs Sani and Sambo were first to accuse Ms Sadiku of illegally awarding thousands of dollars each year to herself in foreign leave allowance.

But Ms Sadiku explained that the payment of foreign leave allowance to NIPC CEOs had been in place since 2005. That year, pursuant to Section 7 (2) of the NIPC Act, the NIPC Governing Council, at its meeting of August 17, 2005, approved a remuneration package for the agency’s executive secretary, which included a foreign leave allowance, covering the payment of a foreign currency cash allowance in addition to flight tickets for a family of six (two business class tickets for the executive secretary (ES) and spouse, and economy class tickets for four children).

In addition to the tickets, the executive secretary was entitled to a daily subsistence allowance of $300 for 28 days ($8,400) while his or her spouse received $150 a day for 28 days ($4,200). Each of the four children was allocated $50 a day for the same number of days ($5,600). The allowances all came to a total of $18,200.

On March 27, 2013, the then minister of trade and investment, in the absence of a substantive governing council, approved a 50 per cent upward review of the cash component of the foreign annual leave allowance from $18,200 to $27,300.

PREMIUM TIMES was able to determine that all successive executive secretaries of the commission benefitted from this allowance: Mustafa Bello (2005 – 2013), Saratu Umar (2014), Uju Hassan Baba (2015) and Ms Sadiku (2017 – 2019).

In total, Mr Bello and his family of six got $184,900 in travel allowances and N27.19 million for flight tickets. Ms Umar, who was in office for a year, received $27,300 in travel allowance and N7.62 million for tickets for her family of six. Her successor, Mrs Hassan-Baba, who was also in office for a year, was paid $21,000 and N3.3 million for a family of three.

Between 2017 and 2019, Ms Sadiku, who was appointed executive secretary in 2016, received a total of $69,300 in allowances for her family of four. However, in her own case, she never demanded payment for tickets for her family in what her supporters describe as a further testimony of her accountability.

The NIPC CEO’s traducers have, however, repeatedly misled Nigerians to believe that Ms Sadiku initiated and fraudulently allocated the controversial allowance to herself. However, learnt that the NIPC board introduced the foreign travel allowance as a way of encouraging competent private sector players on high wages to accept to serve as CEO of the investment promotion agency.

When her traducers raised concerns about the foreign leave allowance, Mrs Sadiku wrote to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to inquire about the legality or otherwise of the allowance. While awaiting clarity from the agency, Ms Sadiku suspended the allowance. The wages commission later reverted, saying the foreign leave allowance, just like a number of other allowances the NIPC board approved for employees, was never ratified by it. Ms Sadiku immediately discontinued it.

The chairperson of the agency’s senior staff union, Yusuf Mustapha, confirmed that all executive secretaries before Ms Sadiku received the foreign leave allowance. Mr Mustapha said Ms Sadiku however had to be singled out for attack because she has not been nice enough to staff members. He said because her predecessors “avoided clashes” with staff members and the union, no one raised any eyebrows about the foreign leave allowance.

Engagement of Stanbic IBTC as Fund Manager for NIPC’s Post Service Benefit Scheme

Before coming to the investment agency, Ms Sadiku was executive director at Stanbic IBTC Bank. So when the board of the agency, on June 24, 2020, selected Stanbic IBTC as the fund manager for NIPC’s post-service benefit scheme, Ms Sadiku’s critics cried foul, accusing her of conflict of interest. They claimed she skewed the selection process in favour of her former employer.

FINDING: Documents we reviewed showed that Ms Sadiku played no role whatsoever in the processes that culminated in the selection of Stanbic IBTC. We found that it was an ad hoc board committee, chaired by the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, that recommended Stanbic IBTC. The committee rated Stanbic IBTC the best among the five Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) considered while also noting that 57.6 per cent of NIPC staff were already subscribed to Stanbic IBTC as their PFA.

Ms Sadiku was not a member of the ad hoc committee. In fact, an extract of the June 24, 2020 meeting, which unanimously approved the engagement of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited, showed that the NIPC executive secretary recused herself from all processes leading to the engagement of the PFA.

Non-payment of welfare packages to staff

The agency’s staff union has continued to accuse Ms Sadiku of failing to pay certain allowances to staff members.

FINDING: We found that Ms Sadiku’s decision to suspend some allowances that staff members had enjoyed for years was based on some extant government regulations.

Investigation shows that on October 11, 2018, the NIPC Governing Council approved the introduction of some new allowances for staff members as well as increases in the rate for some existing allowances.

But the ICPC, in December 2019, called Ms Sadiku’s attention to a May 25, 2007 Circular issued by the SGF stating that all proposed changes for review of salaries and allowances approved by governing boards/councils pursuant to their powers under their enabling acts, must be cleared with the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission before they can be implemented.

The NIPC executive secretary then wrote to the NIPC Council on February 14, 2020, seeking clearance for all allowances approved by the agency’s governing board in September 2007 and October 2018.

On July 13, 2020, the wages and income commission wrote the NIPC directing it to stop the payment of salaries and allowances not approved by NSIWC in line with the SGF memo of May 25, 2007. Ms Sadiku complied, an action that pitted her against employees, who insisted she must continue to pay them the unapproved allowances. She has so far refused to bulge.

It should be noted that one of the allowances suspended is the executive secretary’s foreign leave allowance which was approved by the governing council and the supervisory minister in 2005.

Reforming NIPC

Despite the unending battles she is fighting there, Ms Sadiku has implemented a lot of reforms at the investment promotion agency. For one, she has positioned the NIPC as one of the most open and transparent public agencies in Nigeria. She revamped the agency’s website and then made public the kind of information that most Nigerian public officers and organisations struggle to keep secret.

The records available include but are not limited to those on IGR income and expenditure, procurement, budget performance, pioneer status incentive reports, court cases involving the agency, FOI requests received and responses made, MOUs and Agreements signed, NIPC annual reports, business registration reports, policy documents, staff information, reports of the One-Stop Investment Centre, research reports and FOI annual reports.

In September 2020, the NIPC came second (behind the Bureau of Public Service Reforms) among the 213 Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) assessed for the 2020 National FOI Compliance & Transparency Ranking. The ranking is co-organised yearly by six civil society organisations: Basic Right Watch (BRW), BudgIT, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Public & Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Right to Know (R2K). NIPC also came second in the 2019 edition of the ranking, a supersonic improvement on its 2016 placement when it ranked 90th of the 131 MDAs assessed.

A number of people familiar with her work, interviewed by this reporter, said Ms Sadiku has also led by example and ensured that all procurements at the agency are done openly and transparently and in line with extant laws and regulations. NIPC insiders said Ms Sadiku is known for rejecting gifts from contractors and beneficiaries of the agency’s services. One business executive, whose company benefited from pioneer status incentive, once brought a jewellery gift for Ms Sadiku. As the executive tried to explain his reason for offering the gift, the NIPC executive secretary quickly reminded him that based on the provision of the ICPC Act, what he was trying to do could earn him a seven-year jail term. “The businessman quickly put the gift back in his pocket,” a staff member familiar with the matter said. “The following year he sent a calendar as a gift, which we collected and registered.”

We also learnt that one contractor once sent an expensive fabric to Ms Sadiku. To the surprise of her staff, the NIPC CEO quickly sent back the fabric with a nice cover letter explaining why she could not accept the gift, one staff member said. Even gifts sent to her during festive seasons, such as Christmas, are usually recorded in a register and then shared among staff members.

“I am very familiar with the code of conduct for public officers and the regulation concerning the collection of gifts,” Ms Sadiku told PREMIUM TIMES. “Besides, I have always known that there is no gift that is worth the risk or the potential insult. So the only gifts I accept are those given to me by friends and family and that have no relationship at all with the work I do.”

This newspaper learnt that even before she came to the NIPC, Ms Sadiku had long been reputed for her uprightness and professionalism. For example, in February 2012, she was considered for appointment to the board of trustees of the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s Investor Protection Fund as “a person with proven integrity and knowledge in capital market matters”. That position is usually reserved for unblemished personalities. In that selection round, the late Gamaliel Onosode, foremost technocrat and administrator, was chosen over Ms Sadiku. But after Mr Onosode died in September 2015, Ms Sadiku was appointed his replacement. She continues to serve on that board.

Back to her reform at the NIPC, it is on record that she has reformed the administrative procedure of the Pioneer Status Incentive (PSI) in a manner that beneficiaries say has increased transparency and efficiency. She is now working on deploying technology to process future applications. She also developed an impact assessment framework to gauge the impact of PSI against government objectives and guide reform of the incentive.

Ms Sadiku has also been working on developing incentives for investments in economically disadvantaged areas to better drive job-creating investments to the most challenged parts of Nigeria.

Already, she has led the NIPC to identify 20 strategically important countries for investment promotion that Nigeria should build strategic relationships with, for the purpose of increasing the prospects of securing targeted investments. The agency says it is now building relationships with key public and private sector stakeholders, which can be leveraged to target high-impact world-class investors from the identified countries.

The NIPC also initiated a reform of Nigeria’s Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), based on the principle of attracting ‘RIBS’ (Responsible, Inclusive, Balanced and Sustainable) investments, with the review of Nigeria’s model treaty. The agency said a new model BIT developed in 2016 was used to successfully negotiate the Nigeria-Morocco BIT in December 2016. This treaty, it said, featured prominently in UNCTAD’s 2017 World Investment Report (WIR) and is often cited internationally as an example of a balanced “new generation” investment treaty, which developing countries and emerging economies should emulate.

In Phase 2 of the reform process, the NIPC said it has reviewed the existing stock of Nigeria’s existing BITs, many of which expose Nigeria to the needless risk of international arbitration by investors. The review, which was based on 20 critical and reform-oriented parameters, has since been validated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Bank.

Ms Sadiku also initiated a reform of the One-Stop Investment Centre (OSIC), a platform for intervention on behalf of investors to resolve challenges with government agencies. OSIC acts as “an administrative investment ombudsman and a dispute de-escalation mechanism to facilitate investment retention”. She created an OSIC Lab for transparently resolving investor disputes with government agencies.

In 2020, the NIPC, in collaboration with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, published a Book of States, a collection of the profiles of each of the 36 States in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. The book features the comparative advantages and key investment prospects in each State, to highlight the diverse wealth of the investment opportunities in Nigeria. Ms Sadiku said the book will be followed by disciplined profiling of investment prospects on a state-by-state basis. In addition to the Book of States, the NIPC also regularly publishes an electronic newsletter that tracks and publicises investment-related news.

Ms Sadiku, who commended the hardworking staff of NIPC that have worked with her so far, says she hopes to do more and finish well next month in spite of what she described as moves by some people to tarnish her reputation.

“The last five years have afforded me an opportunity to serve my country and I am immensely proud of the work that all of us at NIPC have done,” she said. “I am serving with integrity and giving the assignment all I have. I am fulfilled that despite the distractions, I will be leaving the NIPC better than I met it.”

Story by PREMIUM TIMES