Entrepreneur Paper 7: Role of Government

Dr. Nicholas Okoye

Dr. Nicholas Okoye

I have spoken about the role of the Government in terms of seeding investment and getting the private sector to follow closely after. Investment Seeding is a marvelous strategy and it works if it is applied in the right way. Having said that the Federal and State Governments have much more to do in terms of getting Entrepreneurs off the ground. In many cases the officials of the State and Federal Government do not understand why they should be asked to support Entrepreneurs. They do not see the link and for those that do see the link they haven’t gotten the foggiest idea on how to go about it.

Just in case some Government officials want to get enlightened, it is imperative for every State in Nigeria to encourage the activities of entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs create an environment for sustainable economic activity which in turn provides a tax revenue base for your State and more importantly creates jobs for your young people. So it is a win-win situation and that is why we should all encourage entrepreneurs.

The Federal and State Governments need to streamline their interventions in regards to Entrepreneurship development along these five areas:
• The economic and enabling environment
• Access to Funding
• Access to training and skills
• Access to business premises
• Government Support Structures and Systems

The Federal and State Governments should stay out of business. There are too many horror stories about the role of Government and its mega disasters. From aviation with the ill-fated Nigerian Airways, that used to fly with more than half the plane flying for free, it become so bad that if you actually paid for a Nigeria Airways ticket you were considered a mugu (stupid). As all you needed was to get to know one high ranking Government official and you were good to go and collect your complimentary tickets, the gift that kept on giving. It was the same story with NITEL in telecommunications, and PHCN/NEPA in power. For the younger ones you are currently experiencing it with the fuel; petrol and kerosene supply situation. The Government’s inefficiency in managing a business. The sad thing is that the Petroleum Unions are still speaking about “not privatizing” the refineries, and still talking about allowing the inefficient and corrupt government workers to keep managing the refineries and keep managing the fuel supply chain. In other words avoid deregulation. That is another discussion for another day.

If we can get our Leaders to focus on the five principle action points of developing entrepreneurs then we will be well on our way to creating jobs on a monumental level in Nigeria. We must however focus on it as this is the only way we can truly make a difference in the lives of our young people.

Some States in Nigeria just seem to get it whereas some are really struggling with the idea of development. I have heard in so many arguments and discussions that some States in Nigeria are not

In Ogun State there seems to get a move to Seed more industrial layouts and parks however the Government needs to ensure that this drive is more focused. I personally tried to set up a factory in the new Government promoted industrial estate at Abara, and I met with bureaucratic resistance, there was a lot of come today, and come tomorrow. I know quite a number of investors that would love to set up in Ogun State or Lagos State if only there could be just a little support from the State Governments in question. There is so much potential for job creation as well as growing economic activity at the State level if the Government officials could understand how to court investors and get the work done. And I am not talking about foreign investors but our local people.

Enugu State has a very large educational community and for all intents and proposes it could be the educational hub of Nigeria if it positions itself well in the coming months and years. I often wonder why the former State Government administrations have not done anything to cement this position. There is no city in Nigeria currently that can out-compete Enugu State in terms of higher Educational schools, unless maybe Lagos. However Enugu should do more much more to claim this crown as the crown is up for grabs. Since Enugu has a heavily dominant student population then, my advice to the new Government would be to seed the environment with investment that would encourage more students and more investors to choose Enugu for their education or for siting their private institutions. Enugu State should have the largest library in the country by now and it will not cost that much to build. Enugu State should have the best recreational facilities for young people and families as the population is there every school year. There should be state sponsored seed investment in sites for off-campus student living hostels, which should be open to students from all schools and have buses that run from the hostels’ sites directly to the school lecture halls. This will save the new investors the trouble of building hostels as well, so they can focus their investment on academic infrastructure. Large student populations also comes with large demand for feminine services, such as saloons, spas, and fashion. So again sites can be ear marked for these services and investors can be encouraged to site their world class facilities to meet the growing student population of Enugu State. And while we are still on the student population, then Enugu should seed the investment of an entertainment arena, this again will mean that all the major concerts sponsored by the major brands in Nigeria will first consider Enugu before anywhere else. A major arena in Enugu will be game changer as the growing Nigerian music industry will now start to drift its talent towards Enugu State. The entertainment arena present in Enugu will also mean that all the major beauty pageants, currently being held in Nigeria at different locations, could be consolidated in Enugu. It would also stimulate the fashion industry, the beauty industry and the talent industry. All this could happen if Enugu focused on attracting more schools.

Bayelsa State has been trying to find its niche for a while now. I think the problems State Governors have had is that they are trying to be all things to all people. And this is a failed strategy. It cannot work. You cannot compete with Lagos or Abuja in certain areas of national life, however there are areas that Lagos or Abuja cannot compete with you. For Bayesla that should be fish farming, boats and ship building. Why are all the shipping building yards and facilities popping up in Lagos? Well it is because the Government of Bayelsa State has not done its homework. What, with all that water? And all that coast line. There is something wrong somewhere. The Entrepreneurs and the investors will only go where they are welcome, and in order to make them welcome you need to create the environment for them to be welcome. Maybe the Beyelsa State Government needs to seed an investment in a dock yard facility or two. And maybe there is a need to seed a modern fish farming settlement. It is on record that illegal Chinese vessels have been fishing off the coast of Bayelsa now for years. These are ships that come all the way from China, a trip of four to six weeks, to get here to fish and then take their catch home to process. What is wrong with our people? Why is everybody focused on getting a miserable share of a Federal revenue and then they go to sleep?

It’s been almost ten years since Dangote Group commissioned the Obajana Cement factory, the supply chain feeder industries that provide that industry with its feed should have become 80% to 100% Nigerian content and by extension Kogi State content by now. I wonder what the State Government of Kogi State has done in all these years to reposition the Entrepreneurs of Kogi to feed the inputs and feeds of that Cement value chain. I do know there are a lot of traders and distributors, but that is not adding value. Anybody can be a cement distributor, Kogi State should have worked with Dangote Group to develop a local Cement technology feeder supply chain industry. If they can do that all the Cement industries springing up all over the country will have come to Kogi to learn and hire expertise for their developments. We can say the same thing for Ogun State that also has a world class Dangote Cement factory or Benue State.

I would like to see our State Governments do more thinking and find ways in which they could use the SEED INVESTEMTN STRATEGY to stimulate development in their states.

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