Significant lessons could also be learnt from Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies that propelled Britain to an economic boom in the ‘80s through extensive promotion of entrepreneurial initiative and share-ownership. Thatcherism’s thrust on substituting debt with equity spawned colossal economic development in the UK, which was soon adapted and replicated across Southeast Asia.
In the 20th century the USA traded their entrepreneurial revolution which they enjoyed in the previous 200years and began a 50 years stint of dependence on the modern day corporation. The myth of job security prevailed in the past 50 years. This is now gone. Renowned historians like Will Durant wrote about this in 1944 leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt and Stephen Covey had written and spoken about it.
For sure, Africa represents uniquely different realities and challenges, and there is no effective model than can be entirely transplanted here. Policy makers must prioritise institutional efforts to compensate for reigning socio-economic realities. Nigerian initiatives to pursue financial restructuring, for instance, have been largely hamstrung due to civil and political unrest. Likewise, Abuja’s insistence on micro-enterprises, instead of small-scale ventures, has done little to help its burgeoning urban unemployed work force.
A viable economic agenda for Nigeria that allows rapid entrepreneurial progress has to focus on fundamental adjustments:
•Creating a pro-active socio-economic environment that encourages creative and viable entrepreneurship from the grassroots level up. Indentifying and correcting infrastructure deficits and systemic imbalance inimical to small business.
•Developing a credit regime – through relevant financial and industrial policy changes – that is sympathetic to small business realities. Promotion of lending through equity, and not debt, is of critical importance.
•Removing administrative and trade barriers while simultaneously enhancing technical support and capacity building assistance for both existing and emerging entrepreneurs.
•Mobilising the country’s significant human resources pool by revamping the education sector to provide vocational, administrative and skill development training to rural and urban youths.
•Creating efficient and effective mechanisms for regulation and oversight of enterprise-development initiatives in general, and microfinance institutions in particular.
•Maintaining political stability and authority of democratic institutions; fighting corruption and building social consensus on important issues to ensure broad-based success of macroeconomic policies.
Another important consideration to this discourse is the difference between policy and implementation, which can at least partly be viewed as the difference between developed and developing nations worldwide. The best policies come to naught unless adequately executed, and the African continent provides a long list of such examples. Obasanjo’s edict on entrepreneurial studies could very well end up being the next one unless successive governments follow it through in both letter and spirit. To accomplish durable prosperity, Nigeria needs to exploit its tremendous economic potential with innovative governance, together with an ironclad shift against endemic corruption. Interventionist policies and institutional mismanagement are potentially far more damaging in the long-term than, for example, the current economic crisis. A twofold agenda of reform and regulation, with effective implementation, is crucial to achieving the entrepreneurial revolution that will help the Nigerian economy overcome its trouble legacy.
The world looks with envy at the unprecedented growth of China and India. These two Asian giants were still in the landscape of pre-industrial agricultural economy when Nigeria was already setting up factories. Today they are enjoying the blessing of a borderless interconnected world economic order.
Nigeria needs to follow through on its significant economic potential with sincere governance and effective planning, together with an ironclad shift against endemic corruption. Interventionist policies and institutional mismanagement are potentially far more damaging in the long-term than, for example, the current economic crisis.