Keynote Address at the Governance, Leadership & Ethics Conference by ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye.
Governance, Leadership & Ethics for Economic Growth
A Keynote Address by
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye,
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)
at the Conference on
“Governance, Leadership & Ethics: How to Build a Thriving Economy.”
I would like to thank the Integrity Organization for inviting me to be the keynote speaker at the 7th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity. The theme of “Governance, Leadership and Ethics: How to Build a Thriving Economy” is very timely and germane as the present government is actively seeking investors to grow and diversify our economy so we can build a brighter and a better future for Nigeria.
This theme broad and if I to explore all its angles do complete justice to it, I would spend several hours exploring all the pertinent issues surrounding it. It is not my intention to bore you, so I will limit my speech to. No matter our professions or endeavors in Nigeria, we are all leaders and the task of building our economy lies in all our hands and not in the hands of the few people who are currently holding the reins of governance in Nigeria. I am not saying that the government of the day do not have a role in creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive and for average citizens to excel; what I am saying is that the task of building a strong economy founded on sound ethical principles belong to all of us and it actually begins with you and I.
I am reminded of the scriptures in Proverbs 14:34 that says: “Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society” – God’s Word Translation. I will interpret this scripture to mean – “building a strong economy in Nigeria and lifting Nigeria up from the doldrums of financial mess require strong and ethically minded individuals occupying various leadership roles in different strata of our nation, be it in the public sector or in the private sector. If that does not happen, then our economy will be in shambles, investors will flee from us and we become a laughingstock and an example of how bad leadership, bad governance and corrupt people have devastated a nation with huge potentials. Sadly, the latter seems to be our situation and it is incumbent on all of us to take the bull by the horn and say, “enough is enough”.
To build a thriving economy, it is important we gain investors’ confidence and investors want to have operate in a stable political environment, speedy resolution of their disputes, predictability of our legal rules and the judgments emanating from our courts, trust our judicial processes to be fair, effective and efficient and most importantly not corrupt. Without putting adequate structures in place, investors will continue to avoid our country like a plague, and this will have ripple effects as the economy will shrink instead of expanding and there will be significant loss of job opportunities for average Nigerians. It is no brainer that for our economy to grow, investors are very critical, and we must fight corruption so that it does not chase away potential investors who can create value and build strong businesses.
Just two weeks ago, a UN report suggested that foreign direct investment to our country decreased by 43% to $2 billion and Ghana is now West Africa’s leading destination for foreign investment. We have to do better to encourage investors to see Nigeria as the destination of first choice.
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