Jide Akintunde’s article titled Corruption and Nigeria’s Investment Renaissance, published in FINANCIAL NIGERIA Vol. 5, Issue No. 57 of April 2013, made for an interesting reading, to say the least. Aptly, it did what I see as a scientific profiling of our economy’s inhibitors and made a prediction of a successful future, if the critical stake-holders will make the singular sacrifice of investing discipline and self-restrain.

By the way, Mr. Akintunde is the Managing Editor of Financial Nigeria, a Development and Financial Journal.

The article in reference threw up so many incongruence in the workings of our local economy; in spite of the many instances of disconnect between how our local economy is run and deliberately impeded, it holds huge potentials for ROI – Return On (investors’) Investment, confounding global investment institutions and bankers. How else can one describe an economy where the banks post unimaginable profit while the manufacturing sector is locked-down? Last month-early April (2013) Zenith Bank posted a Hundred Billion Naira (N100bn) profit, in an economy where only the telecom market is running albeit far below capacity. It is easy to ascribe such recorded growth in the banking sector to activities of a service-driven economy (non-manufacturing economy), but let’s be reminded that any economy with such “growth” indicators not supported by manufacturing, deliberate effort at human resource development and a corresponding low unemployment rate, will turn out a ruse.

But we give it to oureconomy; it has clearly defied all known principles and theories, while successfully delivering equally illogical growth. But let us not be deceived, it is all incongruent, not likely to subsist and requires a deliberate and concerted effort towards repair and redirection or it will lead us nowhere. It reminds me of the period of rush for stock market investment, when even those who called themselves investment bankers were blinded by “visible” mega profits threw professionalism over-board (couldn’t advise neither their clients nor themselves) and blindly scrambled for what they saw as investment opportunities. Their rationale was that our economy does not run according to any known investment theory or principle, and so should not be analyzed as such. Investors hurriedly mopped up shares of companies that were not operating at that time. Value of shares appreciated astronomically based on word of mouth (even from barely literate), not supported by tangible productivity. Even bankers that should know, undermined their academic and professional training, to create what they called ‘marginal loan’ to fuel their greed, and invested in shares of dead companies.

At the end, the stock market went burst and the consequence of our carelessness resulted in huge debts that led to all sorts of health problems including madness and even death. So many families are yet to recover from that crash in the stock market. It left us with so many reasons to be careful, we carry on claiming our economy is resilient, unique and accommodative of the extraordinary. We truly need to be patient and careful to see through the deceit in the ordinary happenings in the market, to avoid disaster. Otherwise, things really happen in our local economy that has potentials to mislead.

One of such misleading indicators is the fact that globally, Nigeria is marked unsafe for investment due to (a) unimaginable level of corruption – including corporate corruption, (b) insecurity – with Boko Haram from the North, MEND from the South and armed robbers at the middle with nation-wide satellite offices, Kidnappers in Lagos, East and Mid-west and ‘gbomo-gbomo’ in the West (my Igbo brothers don’t even go far – some daring ones just pick members of their families for money rituals; scary tales of insecurity all over. In the face off all these negatives, however, Nigeria remains the investment destination for global investors. In spite of the short time permitted by the Sanusi bank recapitalization policy investors, including foreign banks hurriedly pushed in funds to enable them take position in the market widely described in negative terms. Among those that trust this economy so well are Ecobank, Citi, StanChart, Standard Bank (Stanbic), and they all tell success stories owing to their presence in this market.

The Chinese are in a hurry to take position in this land of promise, in whatever way the opportunity presents itself. MTN, Shoprite, MultiChoice, would rather remain here instead of their home- South Africa, considering the enormous opportunities here. All of these tales of success will confound good reasoning among managers and planners. Hence one will not ordinarily blame them when they make excuses for the illogical postulations and engagement. Yet, we at MC&A DIGEST strongly believe there is a need for caution, deliberate and constructive engagement of our institutions designed to stimulate sustainable growth,

This week, we like to look at our Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) in the light of the incongruence in our economic system and the seemingly inexplicable differences between the manifest implausible associated with our economy and the successes recorded by corporate bodies operating in this economy. Our concern is the essence of this structured economic growth decision known as NEXIM and the true value it brings to bear on the economy and people of Nigeria.

Nigerian Export-Import Bank(NEXIM)was established by Act 38 of 1991, as an Export Credit Agency; a macro-economic development initiative designed to carefully exploit opportunities present in international trade, advantageous to Nigeria, her people and economy. It is charged to support onshore and offshore activities that result in the export of Nigerian goods and services, by providing finance, risk-bearing facilities as well as trade and market information and export advisory services to the Nigerian export community, among other functions.

The Bank is 100% Government owned and has an authorized share capital of N50,000,000,000 (Fifty Billion Naira), equally subscribed to equally by the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The bank’s main focus is on the developmental role (complementing commercial banks) through job creation and supporting the exports of Nigerian goods and services. Statutorily, NEXIM Bank focuses on virgin segments and the non- oil exports in different segments of the market/economy. Its role is to help structure the appropriate financing for such markets either singly or with other commercial banks or financial institutions through syndication.

In all, the bank showcases ten facilities, namely:

· Rediscounting & financing

· Stocking

· Direct lending

· Local input

· Foreign inputs

· Export credit guarantee

· Export credit insurance

· ECOWAS Interstate Inter-state Road Transit Scheme

· ECOWAS Trade Support facility

· Nigerian Creative & Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme

On the whole, NEXIM postures as a dependable frontier for exploiting ample opportunities present in international trade, for Nigerians. It has scheduled a maximum application processing period of 4-12 weeks, with special focus on manufacturing, agriculture, solid minerals and the service sector. Of particular interest to us are the Stocking, Direct Lending and Local Input facilities. These listed facilities hold growth potentials with immediategrowth stimulating multiplier effect on the other facilities.

However, there are questions in need for answers in relation to the effectiveness and efficiency of NEXIM Bank as an economic growth driver. For one, if manufacturing and agriculture are two of the bank’s focus, how come these two sectors of our economy are still in-operative? Can the managers of NEXIM proudly profile their contributions to the nation’s economic growth in its about 22 years of being? Can it truly say those in critical need of its assistance have access to its facilities? Where are the evidences of its impact, at least in the critical areas of our economy? How much does the critical mass of its target market know of its being, operations and method of engagement? Is NEXIM’s operational system truly different from those of the commercial banks (with all their unfriendly posture towards prospective investors?

I know of a particular prospect who has done so much to be productive in the agricultural sector, has invested so much, but has waited for so long for NEXIM Bank’s assistance to roll out (far beyond the time limit the bank promises for processing applications), he is getting frustrated! Can NEXIM management team truly claim to be operating objectively, treating applications on their merits?

We will, at this point, leave the public to their deductions, but we must state this: there is a need to re-direct our economy from the dwindling fortunes of the oil industry. We must invest in manufacturing and agriculture, to be survive as a nation, and NEXIM must stand up to be counted in this effort. It must look inward to re-jig, as it is not entirely well positioned for its role presently. We shall leave the matter there, at this point.