Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for attitudinal change among public servants and the enforcement of sanctions against offenders to improve Nigeria’s business environment.
Osinbajo gave the advice in Abuja on Monday at the expanded Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council meeting tagged, ‘Building an Enabling Business Environment: the Journey so Far’.
According to the vice president, the presidency remains committed to putting every mechanism in place to make the business environment to work.
“The combination of this re-orientation as well as sanctions will greatly help in changing our business environment.
“But more importantly in changing some of the bad habits that have been imbibed over the years.”
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the council to apply sanctions where necessary.
According to him, building an enabling business environment is not even more of a journey of national transformation, but changing attitudes that have long been entrenched.
He explained that the attitudinal change required involved changing mindsets and the way people think.
“If people had for years thought that when I am in any position as a regulator it means that this is also a position that I can bully people, I can make money for myself, and all of that.
“If people have that impression, and have had that impression for years, it will take a while and those who they deal with will believe that perhaps they have the right to actually do what they are doing.
“So it takes a while to be able to change that and part of it of cause is ensuring there is consequence for misbehavior.
“And this is one of the issues that the president himself has asked that we take a good look at,’’ he added.
Osinbajo observed that some of the frustrations experienced by businesses were also experienced at the intelligence level, but expressed gladness that the country was committed to fostering change.
He noted that the council had spent so much time with the NNPC and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to enable the organisations to understand that the measures put in place were not just about revenues but first about trying to do things right.
He said that things must be done in a manner that it worked for everyone especially the private sector being the investors in the environment.
Osinbajo added that for the NNPC it was an on-going reform process and challenge, adding that the administration was not unmindful of the challenges because it knew there were issues to be dealt with.
He said that the council could not be naïve about how the changes could take place and how quickly it should happen.
“We recognise here that we are dealing with systemic problems that have taken a while to entrench themselves and we need the private sector,’’ the VP said.
He, therefore, urged the business community to be patient to enable the government to surmount some of the difficult being experienced.
Osinbajo also expressed disappointment with the arbitrariness being carried out in the NCS and the oil sector but noted that efforts were on to address them.
He remarked that the Executive Order 001 of the government was one that underscored the importance of the overall strategy of government which when well implemented would transform the way the Federal Government and its agencies served both business community and the public.
He said the order tried to address six limitations identified in the public service including transparency, default approval, one government (efficiency), entry experience of visitors and travellers at the borders.