Apparently perturbed by the dwindling business situation in the country due to low investment turn out and tepid foreign investment, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) held its second annual security roundtable conference in Lagos.
The President of LCCI, Babatunde Ruwase averred that the roundtable is a platform for discussions and exchange of ideas between the private sector, diplomatic corps and the security agencies on the security situation in the country, “the essence is to deliberate on how we can collaborate to make our environment more secure.” No meaningful business can be done in an environment that is insecure. Thus, security of life and property are very critical factor in the investment environment and a major consideration in investment decisions.
Ruwase made it known that in recent years, the country has been grappling with serious security challenges bothering on terrorism, religious and ethnic crisis, attacks on oil installations, kidnapping, armed robbery and attacks by herdsmen. The impact of these security challenges on business and investors’ confidence is phenomenal. Not much investment activities are taking place in the north-eastern part of the country, for instance. The same is true, perhaps to a lesser degree, in some other parts of the country. Nigeria’s position in the Transparency International Security Ranking has plunged to 149 out of 163 countries. The oil and gas sector is facing fresh threats of attacks on oil installations. Attacks by herdsmen on farming communities across the country is not abating, resulting in increasing loss of lives. Agricultural activities are being negatively impacted.
Ruwase observed that there is an increase in the cost of providing additional security by some key sectors in the economy, including oil and gas, and banking. These additional security measures include private security guards, convoy operations, additional air transportation by oil sector workers, instead of land and marine transportation for security reasons; additional costs in the protection of facilities and equipment of oil producing companies.
Besides, there is an increase in insurance premium on security related risks by over 10% in 2017 with an estimated N78 billion spent by ICT/Telecoms companies in replacing stolen and vandalized equipment. Many rural farmers are holding back from the current planting season because of the fear of attacks by herdsmen and an estimated N200 billion planned investment in agro allied industries put on hold.
The LCCI President was of the view that food security is at risk as agricultural production is threatened by security concerns. Already, food inflation is at 20% as against 12% for core inflation. Raw materials sourcing for agro-allied industries in the country is faced with heightened risk with growing negative effect on investor’s perception and confidence about the security of lives and property in the country.
He opined that there is no better time to look at the business dimension of the security problems than now, “I would like to express my profound appreciation to the security agencies that have agreed to be part of this discussion.”
Ruwase commended the security agencies despite their schedule and daunting security challenges that do not give any avenue for complacency made it to the roundtable conference in order to inform the public concerning their roles in stemming the tide. He also acknowledged the efforts of the security agencies and the government addressing the problem of insecurity in the country. Some progress has been made in restoring peace and normalcy to the North East, but a great deal still needs to be done.
The LCCI helmsman appreciated members of the business community who shared their perspectives on the current security situation in the country.