Osinbajo: how to save the economy
ACTING President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said hard work and not praying and fasting alone can develop Nigeria’s economy.
He said men and women with patriotic zeal built the great economies, adding that they were not spirits.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke during an interactive session with senior civil servants on how the Executive Orders he signed on the ease of doing business would operate.
He urged them to ensure that all hands were put on the deck to revive the economy.
Osinbajo urged Nigerians to launch vigorously into agriculture, especially rice production, to boost food security.
His words: “Great economies and great nations, prosperity and abundance of nations and communities are created by men and not spirits. No matter how much you pray or fast, our country cannot grow without some of us deciding to do the hard work that makes nations work.
“I am a pastor, a spiritual person, and I understand the law of sowing and reaping. It is a spiritual law that has tremendous physical implications. Every time that we delay or frustrate what we can do today leaving it till tomorrow, we hold back the future. We too must reap what we have sown by experiencing delays. If you help others to achieve, if you help your nation; you have sown good seeds, you will find help and you will prosper too.
“So, don’t see this as a government policy. Understand it as a personal policy.”
He said the executive order would address an issue, which President Muhamadu Buhari has described as a cornerstone of the country’s economic policy – The Buy and Use Nigeria Policy.
“The President said at the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan that we must grow what we eat and make what we use.
“Just to give an example, we eat a lot of rice and we import most of it. Yet we can grow enough rice to serve Africa. So, we started a self-sufficiency in rice,” he said.
Warning civil servants against stifling businesses by delaying registration, he said civil servants were strategic to making the executive work.
The Acting President said: “Every generation of people owes the next generation a debt. That debt is paid by ensuring that we provide for the means for the next generation to survive. Or at least we have a duty to ensure that we do not destroy the means of survival and prosperity of the next generation. But there are some people in every generation, who have a special burden, a more important role than others in preparing for present prosperity and future abundance.
“This group of people is called public servants. I have served in the public service most of my adult life. As a university teacher, adviser to Federal Minister and Attorney General, I earned a salary. So, I understand how salary increases can be such good news. But most importantly, I learnt of the power of the public service to change the social, economic and political story of a nation.
“The power house of the economy, the fastest and most efficient job creators are private businesses – both small and large investments, local and foreign. Everyone who starts a business, invests in an existing business or expands a going concern, creates opportunities for jobs, jobs mean money in people’s pockets. It means that whole families can survive, live well and pay taxes, so that government can continue to provide services, build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure.
“But small or large businesses cannot be created or can be frustrated out of existence, if the environment for doing business in a country is harsh or difficult. It is the public service that provides the services that determine whether the business environment will be friendly and welcoming for business or whether it will drive away business and destroy opportunities for job creation.
“When I say public service, I mean the executive, judiciary and the legislature.”
Osinbajo said: “So, when a potential business owner wants to register a company, collect tax clearance certificate or obtain National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration or Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) certification, expatriate quotas, any other papers, approvals or certification from government and we do not willingly and efficiently help him or her, we are killing the jobs and prosperity that he would have created.
“Every time we say come back next week to someone for something we can do today, we postpone prosperity of one person, but in reality, we postpone the prosperity of so many who would have earned something from the business. So, every time that a public officer is an obstacle to business in any way, he attacks the prosperity of our economy and he attacks our future because it means our children cannot find jobs.”
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enalemah said promoting transparency and efficiency in business environment was key to realising the objectives of the orders.
He urged the civil servants to imbibe the culture of discipline and transparency.