Nigeria pledges to remove business obstacles by end of 2017

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the federal government would remove all obstacles to doing business in Nigeria before the end of 2017.

He said this during the public presentation and First Annual Lecture of THE INTERVIEW Magazine in Abuja.

The magazine is published by Azubuike Ishiekwene, a former editor of The Punch newspaper.

Mr. Osinbajo said President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the Enabling Business Committee inaugurated recently to improve on Nigeria’s current rating of the Ease of Doing Business before the end of next year.

Nigeria currently ranks 169 in the Ease of Doing Business index in the world.

He said, “One of the chief aims of the current government is creating an enabling atmosphere for doing business and some of us will be familiar with the fact that a month ago, the president inaugurated the Enabling Business Environment Committee which I chair and the mandate of that committee as given to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is that Nigeria must go up on the World Bank Ease of doing business list and I think the mandate is to go at least 50 places up before the end of 2017. Now, how will that happen?

“The first step is to be directly involved in the private sector and the private sector lead of the project is a gentleman who is head of KPMG in Nigeria and who will be working on this project full time in the next couple of weeks.

“The secretariat will take on the challenge of what needs to be done. What are those important processes that need to be simplified or in some cases simply excluded so that business can go on easily and entry processes can be done easier?”

Mr. Osinbajo said it was the business of government to find political will to create the right atmosphere for business.

According to him, there was a whole raft of measures to ease the challenges of doing of business, including access to credit, business registration and land reforms.

He said government was working on a set of regulations to ensure that business registration and approval would not exceed certain time.

Besides, the vice president disclosed that as part of the plan to ensure conducive business environment in the country, government would soon introduce Visa-On-Arrival policy that would free up the process for investors and businessmen.

He said the policy would attract more investments into the country.

“Most countries that have succeeded in attracting foreign investments have had to take a second look at bringing people to their country,” Mr. Osinbajo said.

“So, one of the important innovations that will be introduced will be getting visas on arrival.

“The process is one that is already in the regulations but that usually involves your applying ahead and picking up the visa but the process can be freed up when you can arrive here, apply for your visa here and get your visa on arrival.”

The vice president admitted that unnecessary bureaucracy was affecting the ease of doing business in the country.

He said the problem in most cases was that approval processes were difficult.

According to him, the bureaucrat would always see the whole process as an end in itself and not a means to an end and therefore would not believe it was his duty to facilitate business.

Mr. Osinbajo said going by his experience so far in government, Nigeria had no shortage of ideas.

He said he once received 13 bound proposals in one day on “practically any subject.

“There is absolutely no shortage of good ideas in Nigeria. Our problem really is never really with great ideas but the question is how to start and finish,” he said.

“The share number of excellent ideas available to you every day are not just good ideas but they are incredible ideas.”

The vice president commended Mr. Ishiekwene for his “strength of character, ethical and professional commitments.”

Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, who chaired the lecture, said though there was a global economic downturn, Nigeria was facing three major challenges.

He said, “In our own case, it is a triple tragedy. We have to cope with the insurgency, the madness of Boko Haram; the militancy in the Niger Delta; and other security challenges like cattle rustling and the menace of herdsmen.

“But the hard way is the best way. Today, we are looking for real managers. This is the time Nigeria needs leaders, not big men. We are not short of big men, what we need are leaders who will take Nigeria out of the woods. It is time now we really have to look inward.

“There has to be peace in the country. I know there can never be peace without justice. This country has what it takes to be a great country.”

Mr. Ishiekwene, who is also editor-in-chief of the magazine, said it would “live up to expectations.”

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