Ease of doing business: Not yet time to celebrate
NEWS that Nigeria made a giant leap in the Doing Business world ranking was received with rhapsodic self-congratulation by the Federal Government.
Last week, the World Bank released its latest Doing Business worldwide ranking, which showed that Nigeria had improved by 24 places, moving from last year’s 171st to 147th out of 190 countries. The Office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was understandably euphoric.
Osinbajo is Chairman of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, established by President Muhammadu Buhari with a mandate to ensure Nigeria moved up at least 20 places. Going up 24 places definitely surpassed the target.
Osinbajo, who claimed that this was the first time concerted efforts were being made across various tiers of government to improve Doing Business in Nigeria, attributed the success to the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.
As Acting President, Osinbajo had issued a number of executive orders specifically targeted at improving our Doing Business activities. Efforts were targeted at five areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit and paying taxes.
We join the Federal Government and the Nigerian people in welcoming this heart-warming news. It will definitely help reposition Nigeria as Africa’s top investment destination, a status we gained in 2014 but lost to South Africa when recession set in, in 2015.
The world is waiting for Nigeria to clean up her acts in the business and investment environment to re-invigorate our economic landscape. It is indeed encouraging that our perennial poor rating in doing business has, at last, received active government attention. We call for efforts to be expanded because we are far from getting to where we should be.
This is where the importance of the anti-graft war comes in. The level of corruption in both public and private spheres of our life is too high for Nigeria to move into a comfortable bracket to make Nigeria the world’s favourite investors’ playground.
We must evolve a comprehensive anti-graft strategy that leverages on technology and strengthens the anti-graft agencies institutionally so that we will no longer need “strong men” to clean up the unending mess.
We must also reform our attitude, or more appropriately, government’s attitude, to Memoranda of Understanding, pacts and agreements such that once we give our word or append our signature to documents they will be implemented to the letter irrespective of the regime under which such deals are sealed.
We must also strengthen the judiciary, putting the courts in a position to give justice without fear, favour or political considerations. A trustworthy judiciary will go a long way in leapfrogging our Doing Business standing further.
We urge the Federal Government to keep working at it. We still have a long way to go.