At a Stakeholders’ Engagement Forum organized by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), the EBES coordinator, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, shared a conversation she had with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo shortly after she got confirmation that Nigeria had indeed moved up by 24 places in the World Bank Doing Business rankings.
“He told me that this means change is truly possible if we commit ourselves to it and pursue it deliberately,” she said, before thanking Osinbajo for his support and the political will of the Buhari administration that made the upward movement possible.
In his speech at the event, Osinbajo confirmed that he was not very confident that Nigeria would improve by that much in the rankings. This is despite the fact that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) which he chairs had set the ambitious target of moving up by 20 places in one year.
“I thought that if we are going to move at all, we would move up a few spaces, but frankly moving 24 steps in a short-term in my view was just absolutely incredible,” he said.
One big challenge: Osinbajo listed a few people in the government like the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investmen, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah; Dr. Jumoke Oduwole; NIPC CEO, Yewande Sadiku; among others, who he said are “smart, extremely talented people, self-motivated professionals, extremely good people, with the right skills.”
He however said that there is one problem:
“What happens when these persons are no longer where they are? What happens when you don’t have this excellent mix of individuals? This is really the challenge; how to ensure we are able to create a system that works all the time, whether or not those who occupy it are self-motivated, extremely talented, should we not be able to find a system that works all the time? A system that is set right, has the right attitude and everybody understands what to do, and if you don’t do it, there are consequences. Those are the challenges we have to deal with going forward.”
One lesson learnt: Osinbajo told the audience that the great lesson he learnt from the PEBEC reform exercise and the external validation by the World Bank is that “it doesn’t take the entire country to make a change, only a few people working together consistently can make a change; we don’t need everybody to make a change.”
“For me, this is a great lesson I learned from this particular PEBEC exercise on the Ease of Doing Business that it doesn’t just take everybody to make a great change. But we can only involve those people in the ecosystem who are interested in the change,” he said.