Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday gave an insight into how, between 1999-2007 in Lagos State, a reform of the judiciary ended the perception of corruption in that arm of government, saying it was achieved by putting in place the principle of punishing bad behaviour.
Speaking earlier yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) in Aso Villa, Prof. Osinbajo said that, in 1999, an overwhelming 89 per cent of lawyers in Lagos, in a survey, said there was corruption in the state judiciary, yet no one was being sanctioned.
According to him, “So we decided to deal with the situation. In the first year, we sacked 21 magistrates, and three judges in the second year. By 2007 when we conducted the same survey, the result was zero per cent,” with the lawyers surveyed responding that there was no corruption in the Lagos State judiciary.
“Nigerians, like any others, will behave well if we put in a system where people won’t get away with misconduct. We are the ones to do it,” he said.
He said once a system is in place that punishes bad behaviour and enforces the consequence for misconduct, the people will behave well.
“We are at a point when we feel obliged to do our very best to improve in all the factors and create an enabling environment for businesses in the country.”
“We have to be committed to what we want to achieve. We must develop a system that punishes bad behaviour and reward good behaviour,” the vice president said.
The Council considered different options and decisions that would be taken in the nation’s ports, on starting a business, construction permits, registering property, getting credit, trading across the borders and enforcement of contracts, among others.
President Muhammadu Buhari had demonstrated strong political will to establish the Council with the mandate to identify and implement the reforms that will improve the business environment in Nigeria and thereby improve Nigeria’s rating in the annual World Bank Doing Business global ranking.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Council, with nine cabinet ministers in attendance, included an interactive session with the World Bank team led by the country director, Rachid Benmessaoud, and other senior officials from the Washington DC head office of the global financial institution.
Ministers at the meeting included those for Industry, Trade and Investment, Okey Enelamah; Justice, Abubakar Malami; Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma; Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Interior, Lt. Gen. (retd) Abdulrahman Dambazau; Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the minister of state for the Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril.