|Vice President Yemi Osinbajo|
Speaking earlier today at the monthly meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Council, PEBEC in Aso Rock, Prof. Osinbajo stated that “we are at a point when we feel obliged to do our very best” to improve in all the factors that will create an enabling environment for businesses in the country.
“We have to be committed to what we want to achieve. We must develop a system that punishes bad behaviour and reward good behaviour,” the Vice President said as the Council considered different options, and decisions that would be taken in the nation’s ports, on starting a business, construction permits, registering property, getting credit, trading across the borders and enforcement of contracts among others.
President Muhammadu Buhari had established the Council demonstrating the highest possible political will necessary to identify and implement the reforms that will improve the business environment in Nigeria, and thereby improve Nigeria’s ranking in the annual World Bank Doing Business global ranking.
Today’s meeting of the Council, with 9 cabinet ministers in attendance, included an interactive session with the World Bank team led by the Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, and other senior officials from the Washington DC head office of the global financial institution.
Continuing, the Vice President recalled how between 1999-2007, in Lagos State a reform of the judiciary ended the perception of corruption in that arm of government once the principle of enforcing consequences for bad behaviour was in place. He said in 1999, lawyers in Lagos, in a survey, said there was corruption in the State judiciary by an overwhelming 89%, and yet no one was being sanctioned. “So we decided to deal with the situation.
In the first year we sacked 21 magistrates and 3 judges in the second year. By 2007 when we conducted the same survey, the result was o%,” Prof Osinbajo disclosed explaining further that lawyers surveyed responded that there was no corruption in the Lagos State judiciary.
“Nigerians, like any other will behave well, if we put in a system where people won’t get away with misconduct. We are the ones to do it,” he submitted.
Ministers at today’s meeting included Industry, Trade & Investment Minister Okey Enelamah, Attorney-General/Justice Minister Abubakar Malami, Budget & National Planning Minister Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, Interior Minister Lt. Gen. (rtd) Abdulrahman Dambazau, Transport Minister Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Power, Works & Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola, Information & Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Environment Ibrahim Usman Jibril.
Prof. Osinbajo also received a delegation from General Electric, GE, led by its Global CEO Jeff Immelt, and urged the company to speed up its infrastructural engagements in Nigeria. One of such is the proposed concessions deal of the East-West lines of the Nigeria Railways to General Electric-GE- for which the firm would be investing $2B into the Nigerian economy, the refurbishment of the single-gauge lane of the lines and the building/assembling of train coaches here in Nigeria.
Addressing the GE delegation, the Vice President noted that “it is important we move quickly this year and get things done, whatever it is that is required to make things move faster, let us know.”
In his own remarks Immelt agreed with the Acting President that 2017 is critical for the different GE projects in power, gas and transport infrastructure in Nigeria.
The Transport Minister Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Power, Works & Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola and Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun were also in attendance at the meeting in the Presidential Villa.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Nigerian Fisheries Forum also met with the Vice President, urging the Buhari presidency to support the restoration of the fishing industry in the country. Prof. Osinbajo asked the Forum, led by its President Elder Philip Amiengheme, to develop a concise roadmap for the industry which the Federal Government can consider.
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