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Blackmail, Main Reason for Multinationals Exiting Nigeria

Ekeh Highlights Corporate Blackmail as Key Challenge in Nigeria's Business Landscape

by Adenike Adeodun

Renowned digital entrepreneur Leo Stan Ekeh has sounded an alarm over an emerging trend in Nigeria’s business environment. According to Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited, the primary reason multinational companies are leaving Nigeria is not the widely cited issue of forex scarcity, but rather the prevalence of corporate blackmail.

In a recent statement, Ekeh expressed his concerns, urging President Bola Tinubu to address this critical issue that frustrates the federal government’s efforts to promote ease of doing business in the country. He pointed out that the challenge of forex scarcity, though significant, is surmountable, especially with the current administration’s efforts to inject more forex into the system.

According to a report by The Sun, Ekeh highlighted that the rapid depreciation of the Naira, from N422.00/$ in June 2023 to N951.94/$ in December 2023 at the official window, is often used as a convenient excuse by multinationals for their exit. However, the underlying issue is much deeper. “Many of these companies are contending with various forms of blackmail and corporate bullying, facilitated by our slow judicial process. This is becoming a destructive business model in our country,” Ekeh explained.

Citing an example from his own experience with TD Africa and Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, Ekeh shed light on the extent of frustration that investors endure due to such unscrupulous practices. The incident, which involved false allegations against his company, has been protracted due to judicial delays and tactics employed by the accuser, such as skipping court sessions and appealing for case withdrawal.

This situation, Ekeh warned, is responsible for the low attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria, relative to its market size and potential. He urged President Tinubu to ensure that justice runs its full course in such cases to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the rule of law and boost confidence among international investors.

In addition to tackling corporate blackmail, Ekeh also called for policies that encourage the patronage of indigenous manufacturers and service providers. He emphasized the importance of developing local capacities and embracing self-sufficiency to stimulate the economy. Ekeh lamented the disregard of local content policies by government officials, underscoring the need for a change in mindset towards local products and services.

He also suggested the reactivation of the suspended national census, arguing that a credible database is crucial for effective decision-making and planning, both for policymakers and investors. Ekeh proposed that the tablet PCs used during the census be distributed to educational institutions to enhance digital literacy among students.

As Nigeria grapples with these challenges, Ekeh’s insights provide a critical perspective on the factors influencing the business climate. Addressing the issue of corporate blackmail and supporting local industries are key steps towards creating a more conducive environment for both multinational and indigenous businesses in Nigeria.

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