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Bribes: Tinubu’s charge to investors

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PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu recently set tongues wagging when, during his just concluded trip to Doha, the Qatari capital, he told the country’s captains of industry to report directly to him if any Nigerian official demanded a bribe from them in order to facilitate a business transaction. Revealed in a signed statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, the president’s message to Qatari investors at the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum could not have been clearer: “Do not offer a bribe to any of our people, and if it is requested or taken from you, report to us. You will have access to me.”

Eager to drive home the point that the country is open to business and will adopt a business-friendly approach on his watch, he added: “Whatever is the obstacle or problem that some of you might have experienced; it is in the past because there is no obstacle in the future. We are removing obstacles today, and we are going to continue to remove all obstacles. We have done so much within nine months. And I assure you, it is free entry, and free exit. Your funds will flow smoothly into and out of our country. Bring your investments.” Finally, he urged Qatari investors not to allow “perceptions” about the country to“become a hindrance to [their] will to invest,” since“Nigeria is serious about revolutionizing investment promotion.”

We could not be more delighted to read this promise of radical transparency from the president since, at the very least, it shows that he is not unaware of the tremendous odds typically faced by any entity- individual or corporate- seeking to do business in Nigeria. While, as the president mentioned, corruption is the most significant among these challenges, it goes without saying that it is just one of many tangible and intangible obstacles to investment. Accordingly, not only do we welcome the president’s statement, for nothing could be more timely, we urge him to do everything within his capacity to ensure that the book is thrown at whoever flouts it, no matter how highly placed such a person is in the current administration. In other words, nothing is more important than the president backing his rhetoric with action, for understandably, many Nigerians are bound to sneer, saying that they have heard such soaring rhetoric before and that when the time came for egregious misdemeanors to be punished, the government lost its nerve. Since such skeptics have a point, the task before the president is to show that their skepticism has no basis, and that he will let the hammer fall on whichever official demands inducement to do their job.

Until then, he can, as a matter of fact, do something about the current situation in the upper legislative house, where rumours of budget-padding and dubious awards to senators have cast a shadow upon the integrity of the lawmakers. If the government is truly interested in fighting corruption, it can do no better right now than to act on the many cases of corruption dotting the landscape, including those affecting and relating to those within the inner circle of government. This would send the right and correct signals that Nigeria is ready for positive change and a new approach to public life rather than following the usual ineffective and tawdry public assertions that mean nothing in reality.

Nigerians are watching.

Read Also: Tinubu approves establishment of Africa-CDC coordinating centre in Nigeria


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