Alex Enumah in Abuja
The European Union (EU) has withdrawn financial support for Nigeria, saying the country has enough resources to meet her developmental needs.
The Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Michel Arrion, gave the charge thursday at an annual distinguished lecture organised by IBB Golf Club in collaboration with Foundation for Global Impact and Sustainable Development.
He said what the EU would do instead is to help with technical support and capacity-building towards development.
While urging the Nigerian government to Begin to look beyond Official Development Assistance (ODA), the envoy suggested the judicious application of taxation.
He charged Nigeria to remain committed to the course of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union in order to realise the goals of the regional blocks.
The ambassador who noted that the EU would not have become what it is today without the quality leadership provided by Germany, stated that Nigeria as a nation has what it takes to uplift the regional block and give it direction.
“We are not offering more financial support, we are proposing more political and policy dialogue, technical assistance, capacity building, training, transfer of technology, more advocacy for more private investments and other innovative sources of funding.
“To finance the development of the country, Nigeria must find alternative funding to ODA. Nigeria must collect much more taxes five times more, to reach an average of 20 per cent of the GDP, and spend better.
“It should also attract much more foreign investment and put in place more and better private/public partnerships. I believe Nigerian authority should work harder to provide good reasons for foreign investors to want to invest in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the theme: ‘40 Years of EU in Nigeria, Lessons and the Way Forward,’ Arrion noted that ECOWAS can only be strong when leading countries such as Nigeria believe in it.
He added that to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Nigeria and other countries within the West African region must be committed to regional integration.
“We in the EU believe in the relevance of regional integration. ECOWAS would be strong when Nigeria believes in it and is committed to making it strong.
“EU is strong because Germany believes in it,” Arrion stated.
Reviewing the operations of the EU in Nigeria in the past 40 years, the ambassador stated that it has been 40 years of development cooperation in agriculture, infrastructures, health, water, energy and other micro-project.
According to him, the body has Since 2000 adopted a more ‘political’ approach in its support by engaging in human rights activism, campaign for improved criminal justice system, prisons reform, fight against trafficking in human beings, small arms and drugs.
“More recently, a much more political approach has been adopted in our cooperation with Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) towards the de-radicalisation, counter-radicalisation of Boko Haram, fight against corruption as well as humanitarian assistance, and aid to reconstruction of the North-east,” the ambassador stated.