I am here for a first-hand engagement with all of the Lab participants, and to see for myself, first-hand, what is taking place.
First, I want to say that I am thoroughly impressed with what I have seen. I think the Lab approach is a very unique one and it is very clear that everyone has bought into it.
It is a process that comes from the realization that the main problem that we have is not with the ideas or with projects; in fact, some projects could actually be game changers. The project is always one of regulatory bureaucracy, funding. And while we all accept that regulatory bureaucracy is important, otherwise policy is defeated, and we may not even have a level playing field for most of what we want to do; yet regulatory bureaucracy can always get in the way and it’s important for regulators and investors to sit together to work out ways of ensuring that none gets in the way of the other. I think that that’s what the Lab process has managed to achieve. We are actually able to see the regulators face-to-face, to meet and talk about what the problems are. Most problems, as you know, have some kind of solution, and what we really want to achieve is a win-win situation where both the investor and government, of course, representing the people, are reasonably satisfied that what we want to do would benefit everyone.
So, let me commend you all very much for what I’ve seen here. I’ve gone round myself; I’ve spent the last two hours trying to understand what the issues are, and I’m very encouraged that we really have what it takes to do all of the things that we said we wanted to get done. It shows there is a lot of remarkable progress and that working together, we can achieve so much. I’m particularly impressed by the level of engagement, the enthusiasm and the interest that has been shown, and especially accepting to lock yourselves up for a number of weeks, all in a bid to partner with government to fast track the growth and development of our country.
Indeed, moving forward as a country requires a great level of commitment and patriotic zeal. And I know that this patriotic zeal is so evident; everyone is talking about what we can do for the country, what it is that we can do to make things work. The situation that we found ourselves in as a country in terms of development clearly shows us that the time for speech-making, talking and explaining is long gone, and we really need to settle down and deal with what the issues are. And this is why these Labs are so important.
I’ve listened to the various comments, the challenges articulated by Lab participants on what is required, what the solutions are. I’m also aware that all of the ministers, the sector ministers, have been personally present and that they have discussed most of the issues with you, and they have received feedbacks that relate to their particular portfolios. I believe that they would continue to do so because this is a continuous process of engagement, especially as we go towards the end of the Labs.
Let me assure you that the President, in particular, is committed to this particular process. And part of the reason why the President is committed to the process, from the discussions that he has had with all of us, is just the general frustration with saying we are determined to do something, we want to do, we have a plan for it, but somehow; it doesn’t get done in the timelines that we have set for it. We have all identified jointly, especially with Mr. President, that all of these problems can be resolved if the private sector and the public sector sit together and identify what the problems are. This is why I think the Honourable Minister mentioned that the President, of course, is very keenly interested in the outcome of these Labs, and he has given his full support to this.
So, we intend to move very quickly once we are able to identify all of the problems. As the Honourable Minister has said, a meeting will be held this coming week, where we are going to sit with the regulatory authorities and look at what it is that the government needs to do, and what it is that, from our side, we need to input into this process. Some of the processes are more complicated than others, and some are quite straightforward. But again, we are going to keep talking to you and trying to elicit some of the solutions that you think are possible.
We are completely committed to this process and we want to make sure that we see the projects done. All of the projects that have been identified are projects that will definitely make a huge difference, not just in terms of job creation, but also in terms of proving to other investors – local and international investors – that Nigeria is ready to do business; that we are prepared for all that it takes to make sure that things are done well and properly, and that those who want to invest don’t have the additional burden of bureaucratic delays and problems of various kinds.
So, this is just to say, again, a very big thank you to you all for participating in this, as well as for your confidence and belief in the government and in all of the regulators and bureaucrats that you have been sitting with and talking to for the past few weeks. And also to thank very much Dr. Idris Jala, whose brilliant idea, the idea of the Laboratories, has been tested here and there. And he’s told me that he is extremely fascinated with what he has seen here. On a score of one to 10, he gives our Labs, without our even completing it, somewhere in the order of 80%. So, I think that we are really doing very well.
I’d like to thank everyone again and to assure you, again, that we are definitely committed to ensuring that every one of the projects that has been identified, we see to completion, whether they are four to five-star projects or they are one-star or two-star projects.
Thank you very much.
Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President
Office of the Vice President
5th April, 2018