Former President of Georgia, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili yesterday explained that the power situation and corruption in Georgia was worse than the present situation in Nigeria when he was elected President of the country in 2004.
The former President who was speaking at the Lagos Economic Summit, otherwise called Ehingbetti 2014 said corruption was so prevalent that nothing was done by government officials in official duties without demanding bribe. He said there was no light in Georgia whereas officials were diverting power to neighbouring states and collecting money for the service.
“Policemen were collecting bribes on the streets and prison guards were permanently placed on salaries by criminals”, he said, adding some connive with criminals to perpetrate crimes. According to him, it took about seven hours for those in customs to clear goods at the Georgian ports and that it was impossible to get admission into Georgian Universities without bribe.
He explained that he had to adopt radical approach to governance by sacking all those in the Georgian Police Force as well as all those in the customs and replaced them with fresh blood.
The former President who was speaking on the theme, “Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities”, said many thought that sacking the entire police force would engender high level of crime, but that ironically there was drastic reduction in the level of crimes.
“We sacked all the sanitary officers and many thought that it would lead to food poisoning”, he said, adding that many running restaurants had to hire refuse collectors to clear their waste.
He explained that his government has to introduce the use of software at the ports, thus reducing the time spent on clearing goods from seven hours to seven minutes.
Saakashvili who said he recruited corruption investigators after reducing government agencies said his reforms took his country to the top as one of the most efficient economies in Europe and one that is least corruptible adding that the best way to fight corruption is to build strong institutions that would outlive any serving president.
In his opening remarks, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola said his reforms have impacted on the lives of residents of the state.
“Economic study of the impacts of street lights in Iyana Ipaja, Alimosho shows that a sample of 22 traders dealing in perishable items experienced an average monthly income growth of about 42 percent from N78,000 to N110, 760; 19 people sampled who sell clothing and shoes experienced almost a 50 percent growth from N286,000 to N429,000 per month, while those trading in electronics experienced an average of about 37 percent income growth from N486,000 to N665,000 a month”, he said.
The governor explained that it will take N240 billion to build the 4th mainland bridge over a period of three years.