Nigerian businesses in focus at Sierra Leone’s presidential polls

As preparations for the Sierra Leone presidential election scheduled for March 7 heat up, Nigeria business interest has become a major focus of campaign between the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the major opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its splinter faction, the National Grand Coalition (NGC).
While it is being perceived that Nigerian businesses are facing veiled threats from the two leading opposition parties in the country, which has persistently alleged that the ruling party has sold the country’s economy to business leaders from Lagos and Abuja, APC has promptly dismissed the allegation as baseless and untrue.
Although, Nigerian banks and trading firms are said to occupy prominent place in the economy of Sierra Leone, on two occasions, in recent weeks, top opposition leaders were alleged to have threatened to clip the wings of foreign businesses in the nation’s economy, accusing Nigerian businessmen, in particular, of invading the country.
An NGC opposition leader was quoted as accusing the Bai Koroma administration of having sold the economy to foreign business leaders.
During another campaign, held in the north of the country, last week, an SLPP leader was quoted to have raised the alarm against the domination of the country’s economy by Nigerian businesses, assuring that his party would introduce appropriate law to address the development.
While representatives of the opposition parties denied the reports, describing it as a cheap blackmail by the ruling party, clips from campaigns across the country however proved otherwise. A top Nigerian banker in the country, who did not want his name mentioned, said the anti-Nigerian rhetoric among opposition, is widely reported in the country.
The APC candidate, Samura Kamara, denied any Nigerian hijack of the Sierra Leone economy, saying, “If anything, Nigeria has been pivotal to the economic growth and recovery of the country.”
Kamara, while applauding the involvement of foreign partners contributions to the development and growth of his country’s economy said, “It would be unfair to attack Nigerian businesses. Nigerian businesses are safe under an APC government and we pledge to do more in terms of deepening the relationship between the two countries.”

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