A former President of the Republic of Georgia, Mr. Mikhail Saakashvil, on Tuesday said Nigeria could confront corruption and other related problems if its leaders were willing to take drastic measures, not caring whose ox was gored.
Saakashvil, who was Guest Speaker at the opening ceremony of the Lagos Economic Summit, also known as Ehingbeti 2014, added that Nigeria’s problems were not insurmountable.
He explained that corruption in Georgia was so prevalent that government officials did not offer any service without demanding bribe.
Saakashvil, who was President of Georgia from 2004 to 2013, pointed out that if his country could metamorphose from nearly a failed state a few years ago to an economic stable country, Nigeria could also overcome its challenges.
He explained that his administration sacked operatives of the Georgian Police Force and those in the customs, replacing them with fresh blood.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities’, Saakashvil said his reforms took his country to the top as one of the most efficient economies in Europe, adding that the best way to fight corruption was to build strong institutions.
“When I became president, we were ranked the 127 economy, but we moved up to eight and became the first developing country to enter into the top 10 World Bank economic index of the world. By 2004, corruption rate was 96 per cent, but by 2007, it was less than two per cent,” Saakashvil said.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the recent rebasing that placed Nigeria economy as the biggest in Africa and 26th largest in the world, must be complemented by revamping the power sector, so that the nation’s economy would blossom.
He said, “How to put that position to work is really the challenge and power will be the key to it.”
He said the government had embarked on a number of initiatives to improve power supply in the state.
Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, noted that a solution to the power problem would aid manufacturing and other industries.
He said, “Indeed, the key to solve the challenge that we have today is power. Everyone needs power to do business. And until we solve power challenge, we will continue to have a GDP that is more of service based.”