Blackmail cause of multinationals’ exit, low FDI – Leo Stan Ekeh

”Many of them have had to contend with all manner of blackmail and corporate bullying from professional blackmailers, aided by our slow judicial process.

Blackmail cause of multinationals' exit, low FDI - Leo Stan Ekeh
Leo Stan Ekeh
Blackmail cause of multinationals' exit, low fdi - leo stan ekeh
Leo stan ekeh

Respected serial tech entrepreneur, Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, has attributed blackmail as the major cause of multinationals’ exit from Nigeria and low FDI inflows.

Ekeh, who is the Chairman of Zinox Technologies Ltd., said in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.

He said if nothing was done, more of such businesses and indigenous ones might close shop in the coming months and years.

BRANDPOWER reports that Leo Stan Ekeh called on President Bola Tinubu to address the critical issues of corporate blackmail and bullying, which also frustrated Federal Government’s effort at promoting ease-of-doing-business in the country.

Ekeh, who acknowledged that scarcity of forex was a challenge for businesses operating in Nigeria, said that such challenge could be surmounted, especially with the new push by the Tinubu’s government to inject more forex into the system.

He said the depreciation of the Naira, which dropped from N422/$ in June 2023 to N951.94/$ in Dec. 2023 at the official window, following the floating of the Naira by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was only a convenient reason cited by the exiting multinationals.

”On face value, some of the exiting multinationals cite difficulty in procuring forex as reason for closing shop in Nigeria, but they are only being diplomatic.

”Many of them have had to contend with all manner of blackmail and corporate bullying from professional blackmailers, aided by our slow judicial process.

”This has become an emerging but very destructive business model in our country, and unfortunately, the legal system is handicapped to protect the victims because of the long years it takes to discharge a case,” Ekeh said.

According to him, the escalation of corporate blackmail over the years is responsible for multinationals’ exit and the low attraction of Foreign Direct Investments relative to the size of Nigeria’s market and potential.

According to him, the President should aggressively pursue a policy that promotes patronage of indigenous manufacturers and service providers, as a way of reflating the economy.

”It is evident that the core of the myriad challenges afflicting the nation today is our failure to develop local capacities. We must embrace self-sufficiency by consuming what we produce and supporting indigenous players across various sectors,” he said.

Ekeh regretted that in spite of several local content policies established by the Federal Government, such policies were consistently disregarded by government employees and appointees.

”We send our children to the world’s best institutions, where they excel, yet we overlook the products they create,” the Zinox chairman said.

He gave the example of the government of India which recently imposed restrictions on the importation of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers and ultra-small computers and servers with immediate effect.

According to him, this is to boost local productivity both by multinationals operating in India and indigenous Indian companies to create more jobs, encourage proficiency, and discourage capital flight.

”Mr President, I humbly appeal to you to be deliberate and decisive in encouraging indigenous producers and service providers across all sectors.

”This way, we create a market for indigenous products, build confidence in our economy and easily attract international investors. The way we treat our local investors will determine how many foreign investors we can attract,” he said.

Ekeh also urged the President to activate the suspended national census because Nigeria had already made substantial investment in the programme, with the acquisition of critical technologies and training of personnel.

According to him, allowing those systems to lie fallow will lead to huge waste.

He said that Nigeria needed a credible national headcount now more than at any time, given the flaws and logistics challenges that attended the distribution of palliatives across the nation.

Ekeh said a credible database was key for decision-making for planners, policy makers and investors.

He also advised the government to release the over 500,000 units of Tablet PCs used during the census to different educational institutions nationwide, after the headcount to enable the students acquire relevant digital skills that would make them globally competitive.

Leo Stan Ekeh is renowned for pioneering Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics in West Africa and computerizing over 95 per cent of Media/Multimedia houses and book publishing houses in Nigeria in 1987 through Task Systems; pioneering digital dispensing fuel pumps in partnership with Elf Petroleum and Schlumberger, France through his company Stanoil after he was cheated by a fuel attendant using the analogue pumps; and launch of the first locally assembled and internationally certified computer brand in Sub-Saharan Africa – Zinox Computers.

In 2018, Ekeh and his team had announced the acquisition of Konga, a once-thriving indigenous platform that held the status of being one of the latter-day pioneers of the new wave of e-commerce in Nigeria but which, at the point of acquisition from its erstwhile owners, South African-headquartered Naspers and Swedish-based AB Kinnevik, was almost on its last days. He has since built it into a formidable e-commerce brand.

He is thus passionate about ending corporate blackmail and bullying in the country in order to halt avoidable multinational’s exit, attract decent FDI inflows and promote local enterprise to optimal levels.