By Peter Osalor
The United State of America is no doubt a great nation but the history of America wouldn’t be complete without the mention of great men like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Ford, Morgan, and Rockefeller whose entrepreneurial exploits and footprints are still visible to date. In the 80s, we heard names like the Abiolas, Ojoras, Okoyas, Dantatas, Iwuanyanwus, and the rest.
Nigeria is indeed blessed with great minds and entrepreneurs but unfortunately, most Nigerian businesses do not transcend generations. Most of the brands we grew up with are no more, brands like Leventis and Bhojson stores, Bata and Lernards shoes, Adebowale Electronics, Concord group, Okada air, Eleganza coolers etc.
The Nigerian business environment has no doubt witnessed several revolutions. The banking revolution which threw up names like Hakeem Bello-Osagie, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu and the rest. In spite of every effort to revolutionise the banking sector and business environment, Nigeria is still faced with serious economic challenge and lack of job opportunities.
Constant challenges which are endemic to Nigeria are corruption, incompetence, and ineptitude in the public sector. And I have consistently held the belief that for Nigeria to move to where it ought to be, amongst the committee of nations, there must be a revolution. How? What type of revolution?
We have heard and read about several revolutions, political and industrial revolutions. Just in our most recent history we witnessed the Arab Spring revolution. The world could not and cannot afford a bloody revolution or a disintegration of the most populous black nation, but miraculously, against the predictions of a possible break up by 2015, God intervened, Change came. There was a “common sense revolution” many thanks to permanent voter’ card (PVC). So now that we have change what next?
Next is Entrepreneurial revolution, the solution to Nigeria economic challenge. This is the kind of change we need to take us to our promise land. I am a strong agitator for this revolution, I have written a book on it titled “Entrepreneurial Revolution” I urge everyone to get a copy and make sure he reads it.
It is no longer news, the country is broke, and oil prices have gone down to an all-time low of $30 per barrel. We didn’t save when we had excess, we didn’t build infrastructures. Not enough power to drive the industries. These are tough times but provide the opportunity to learn and build. For Nigeria to be great again we need to take tough decisions. Entrepreneurship needs to take the front burner.
With about 70% youth population (approximately 80 million) there is an abundance of human resources. We need to create jobs for the growing population of youths. Governments must recognize that it is not a job creator but has the responsibility to create the right environment for entrepreneurial development. However, there are numerous challenges hindering the growth of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, namely:
- Difficulty in doing business
- Lack of access to fund
- Lack of critical infrastructures
- Insufficient power
- Disconnect between education and marketplaces
Recommendations: beyond the rhetoric, there are practical ways government can create the right environment for businesses to thrive, namely:
- Increase the ease of doing business
- Eliminate multiple taxations of SMEs
- Encourage public-private partnership
- Engage the entrepreneurs in policy formulation
- Reduce size and cost of governance
- Increase capital expenditure ratio in annual budgets
- Encourage state and local governments to be viable and generate IGR
- Develop infrastructures
- Eliminate corruption and block leakages
In conclusion, the change that we all desire is not going to come from the government, but from the start-ups, SMEs, entrepreneurs, investors, market men and women. Entrepreneurs have to start thinking leadership, and Leaders have to adopt the entrepreneurial mind-set and Nigeria will be great again.
Note: Peter Osalor is always available for public speaking.