Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that official corruption and privatization of public enterprises led to massive losses in public revenue.
He said this while delivering a key speech at the 55th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja.
He said the penchant for graft is high and Nigerians spent a lot of time pursuing ill gotten wealth as opposed to creativity to pursue wealth.
“Official corruption and privatization of public resources have caused massive losses in public revenue.
“Indeed the truth is stranger than fiction in this matter of corruption in the public service.
“Dysfunctional government bureaucracies, waste and mis-allocation of resources.
“A great deal of talent and enterprise that should focus on creativity and innovation is concentrated in wealth seeking activities.’’
The vice president urged lawyers to find means of shedding the public garb that justice could be bought to remove the legal profession from all sorts of compromise.
Mr. Osinbajo said that enforcing contracts and the general area of dispute resolution in the country were bogged down by ”judicial process that is slow, burdensome and notoriously open to dilatory tactics.
“Perhaps even more damaging to attracting investments is the largely and compelling narrative that Justice can be purchased.
“This is a major problem of perception in our justice system and of cause a major problem of bringing business in the country.
“Even local investment suffers when there is a sense that the Justice system can be compromised.’’
Mr. Osinbajo said that it was absolutely important that we deal with the issue of integrity in our judicial system even as we deal with the overall question of corruption.
He said there was no question at all that if we don’t handle corruption squarely our justice system will be so degraded that it will be practically impossible to get very much done or to encourage anyone to come into our economy.
He advised the NBA members to find ways of ensuring that authentic dispute resolution were not caught up in the slow moving justice system.
“Applications of all types in the civil courts to stop or delay arbitrary processes run their slow course in many business disputes.
“An economy that must provide jobs for 80 per cent of graduates from our universities and a youth unemployment population of 40 per cent cannot afford destructive delays in creating these wealth opportunities.’’
The vice president said it was the plan of the administration to initiate consultations at the highest levels of government to re-write the story of the nation’s business environment.
Mr. Osinbajo mentioned the challenges in the power, infrastructure, employment, and monetary policies and said the administration was committed to finding lasting solutions to them.
In an interview with correspondents, a former President of the NBA, Olisa Agbakoba, said that the citizenry needed more action from the government to demonstrate the need for change in the country.
He said the NBA was glad that government was talking tough on corruption and that the association was ready to key into the programme.
“One of the challenges we are posing to government is that we have had so much of talking on different issues.
“What we would now like to see is action.
“So, if for instance you say you want to fight corruption, in what way?
“How will you be able to recover all the loot because access to that is easy?
“I think the essence of the conference is that when we leave here government can begin to take action that we can measure.
“If you want to turn around poverty we can see so. If you want to see new jobs, NBA is demanding action from our government.’’
Mr. Agbakoba said it was not true that counsel were deliberately slowing down legal processes and said it was the responsibility of judges to speed up all legal matters.(NAN)