The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Michel Arrion, has foreclosed EU financial assistance to Nigeria.
Arrion, who made this known in Abuja while delivering a Distinguished Lecture organised by the IBB Golf Club, with the theme, “40 Years of European Union in Nigeria: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward”, said that EU was not promising further assistance to Nigeria even tough the country remains its key partner due to its role in global affairs.
The envoy also stressed that the EU would scale up its efforts towards the country’s institutional, political and economic development for a more prosperous future. He said Nigeria could not be said to be poor, as it has enough resources to meet its developmental needs.
While expressing concern that at the country’s economic strength, Arrion called for a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth to ensure growth and stability to unleash its enormous economic potential.
He explained that the combined aides to the country were about 10 per cent of its annual budget. According to him, the Official Development Assistance (ODA) flow in Nigeria is about $2.5 billion yearly, which corresponds roughly to about 10 per cent of the federal budget (N7.3 trillion or $24 billion). This, he said, has raised the question on whether the EU should continue to give aide to Nigeria.
The envoy, however, said the regional block would instead scale up its efforts towards the country’s institutional, political and economic development for a more prosperous future.
“We are not offering more financial support, we are proposing more political and policy dialogue, technical assistance, capacity building, training, transfer of technology. We are also proposing more advocacies for more private investments and other innovative sources of funding,” he said, while calling for improvment in tax collection to finance the development of the country.
According to him, Nigeria must find alternative funding to ODA including improved tax collection, which must be improved at least five times more and also spend better.
Quoting PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC 2016), he said, “Nigeria collects about N5.5 trillion or $18 billion dollars per year in ODA. About 10 million people (10 per cent of adult population) are registered for personal income tax (half of them in Lagos). The rate of VAT compliance by registered entities is about 12 per cent. The rate is lower for corporate income tax of 9 per cent.”
He also said Nigeria must attract more foreign investment five times more, to reach the level of Angola or Vietnam, for instance, and put in place more and better Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
Arrion said the evolution of vibrant relationship of equal partners between Nigeria and the EU was founded on shared values, aspirations and mutual trust.
According to him, EU, in its 40 years of engagement with Nigeria, has identified development priorities, funded projects to stimulate Nigeria’s economy, and reduced hunger and disease.
He said the union had also helped to enhance institutional capacities, strengthened governance and fought insecurity in Nigeria.