Sunday, January 6, 2019

Anyiam-Osigwe: Malawi has strong institutions

Anyiam-Osigwe: Malawi has strong institutions
June 15
15:45 2014

Mr. Michael Anyiam-Osigwe is the honorary consul of the Republic of Malawi to Nigeria. In this interview with Temitope Ajayi, he speaks on the recent election in Malawi and the new government of Professor Peter Mutharika, investment opportunities in the country and how he is facilitating friendly relations between Nigeria and Malawi.

The last general election in Malawi raised some dust before reason eventually prevailed. As the honorary consul of the Republic of Malawi to Nigeria, were you bothered that it might snowball into a bigger impasse?

The Republic of Malawi has strong institutions and Malawians appear to have a culture of healthy respect for the rule of law and their  institutions irrespective of  the contending interests. Therefore while there was reasonable concern about the elections I was convinced that the major stakeholders in the polity and the respective leaders in the contest will ultimately put the interest of the nation and its people  above their respective interests. In that regard the contending parties in the main relied on constitutional means and respect for the rule of law  in their quest to resolve the contentious issues that arose from the election.

Nigeria has congratulated the new government despite the fact that several opposition figures and the former President Joyce Banda kicked against the process. Do you think Nigeria acted correctly?

Nigeria congratulated the new government upon its inauguration. All the presidential contenders in the election, including  former President Joyce Banda and leader of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Mr. Chekwara  had accepted the court ruling and subsequent  declaration of the winner by the Malawi Electoral Commission and  congratulated the new president before he was sworn in.

Former President Joyce Banda, being a firm believer in peace and unity and rule of law, congratulated President Mutharika after the Malawian Electoral Commission declared him the winner of the presidential election. Banda urged the country to throw its weight behind Mutharika. She stated that she wanted to urge all Malawians to support the newly elected Professor Peter Mutharika and his government as they take on the foundation of progress that has been laid and develop Malawi even further. She further urged all Malawians to move forward as one united nation  to uphold the rule of law and continue being peaceful  and calm as the country heads into the next 50 years.  In keeping with his measured disposition to issues, President Jonathan’s congratulatory message  would have   been preceded by due consideration of the above. To that effect Nigeria acted correctly in congratulating the new president of the Republic of  Malawi.

What will be your major role as a special envoy of Malawi now that you have a new government and the government that appointed you is no longer in power? In the last two years what has been the level of cooperation between Nigeria and Malawi at bilateral level and what are you doing to ensure the interest of the government you represent is better served against the background that you are also a Nigerian?

Government is a continuous phenomenon and as an honorary consul appointed during the previous administration of President Banda through the Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, my responsibility is primarily to the Malawian nation and its people under a duly  constituted government. To that effect, at the instance of the new government President Peter Mutharika, I shall continue to pursue the worthy objectives for which I was appointed. This will include working to maintain and improve the good and friendly relations between the two countries as well as the pursuit and realissation of mutually beneficial collaborative development initiatives, programmes and projects. In this regard,  I am quite pleased that the government of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to continue to build on the good relations that already exists between the two nations. Similarly, the new government of President Peter Mutharika has welcomed the goodwill message from the Nigerian president and also clearly stated its desire to continue to forge closer ties of cooperation with Nigeria. Our consulate intends to leverage fully on the avowed commitment of the two governments to ensure that the various bilateral agreements signed during the historic state visit of President Jonathan to Malawi are brought into effect and harnessed for the mutual  and enduring benefit of the two countries. These will include collaboration and or technical assistance in such area as  agriculture, aviation, oil and gas, health care as well as private sector initiatives as it bears on investment opportunities in Malawi among others.

Malawi is described as one of the poorest countries of the world which depends on donors to fund more than 40% of its annual budget. What are the economic opportunities in Malawi that private sector investor from Nigeria for example can take advantage of considering the fact that most Nigeria big businesses such as Dangote, Oando and banks are investing in other African countries?

Malawi is rich in a range of untapped solid minerals as well as oil and gas resources. There are unique opportunities to be harnessed in Agriculture and Allied Industries. Opportunities also abound in real estate, leisure services, ICT, education, trade and  manufacturing. The new government through its newly appointed minister of finance, Mr. Goodall Gondwe, has already announced  that it will take a more aggressive action to jump-start and revamp Malawi’s economy and get it back to its lost glory where it was the second fastest growing economy after Qatar.

How best are you facilitating trade between Nigeria and Malawi?

We are exploring ways to activate a bilateral air services agreement between Malawi and Nigeria to facilitate  the movement of people and goods between the two countries.  Also there is an investment forum that is being planned that is targeted at attracting Nigerian investors.  The proposed forum would be facilitated with the Nigerian mission in Malawi and related agencies. The Malawian agency charged with attracting  investments into Malawi is a well organised agency and will serve as a valuable resource in ensuring the success of the forum.


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