President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday in Abuja reassured foreign investors and Nigerians that the economy would remain stable in spite of the slide in global oil prices.
Jonathan gave the assurance when he received a delegation of General Electric led by its Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, John Rice, at the Presidential Villa.
He assured his guests that the Federal Government would do everything possible to stabilise the economy, and urged the company to maintain its confidence in the country.
“We promise our people that even with the drop in oil prices, the economy will be stable. We have good professionals with global outreach.
“I urge you to maintain the confidence you have in this country before the oil price drop and even expect better management from us.
“Sometimes, it is when you are challenged that you do better than when everything looks good, sometimes you overlook things.
“But now that we have seen some signs everybody is looking at the book and looking at the various options accurately and properly.
“So, I reassure you and other investors in this country, and indeed, Nigerians that the government will do everything to stabilise the economy.
“The drop in the prices of oil will not create so much distortion in our own economy,’’ he said.
The president thanked General Electric for its commitment to increase its investment in the country with the attendant benefits of job creation for thousands of youths and overall economic development.
He said that the focus of his administration had been job creation and economic expansion, which he described, as one of the greatest problems facing governments around the world.
Jonathan said he was quite pleased with the company’s plans to set up a facility in Calabar that would manufacture components for the oil and gas sectors.
“We are quite impressed by your investment in the oil and gas sector.
“Though Nigeria has been in the oil business since the 60s, before this time, you hardly see local manufacture of its facilities, we export the jobs.
“Yes, we are doing big business in oil, it does not translate into job creation.
“But with companies like General Electric and others that are exploiting the Nigerian Local Content Act, jobs are being created for young Nigerians,’’ he said.
Earlier, Rice said that the purpose of the visit was to inform the president that General Electric had selected Calabar for the establishment of its one billion dollar component manufacturing plant.
He said that the plant would produce sophisticated equipment for General Electric’s oil and gas business in the country with the multiplier effect of creating thousands of more jobs for Nigerians.
He said that the company had started the process with land preparation at the project site, training of local manpower to be engaged in the facility, among others.
He said: “We will be doing training and leadership development. We have 45 Nigerians that are being trained; we have sent them to the United Kingdom and Brazil.
“And we will be bringing them back to work in this facility when it is up and running.
“We have started the process with our suppliers to qualify them and to certify their capabilities. So, we are not holding back, we are moving forward,’’ Rice said.
He said on completion, the facility would increase the number of the company’s workforce from the current 600 to 1,300.
Rice assured the president that the fluctuation in global oil prices would not affect the commitment of General Electric to the country because of the encouragement coming from the government.
He said the company had achieved so much in the country due to the backing of the Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Power, Health and Finance.