I am a living example of the axiom that no prophet is respected at home. A few weeks after the 2019 (s) elections, I prophesied that it was not yet over and that the real elections would be conducted by the lawyers, judges, courts and tribunals. The media and the general public ignored such an earth-shaking and revolutionary prophecy. And now, not long after that prophecy, the come has come to become. INEC has withdrawn Certificates of Return from 25 candidates who had already gone for thanks-giving, settled their various ‘resource person’s (including the owners and managers of political structures), reconfigured their wardrobes and undergone crash programmes in Nigerian political mannerisms. In a similar vein, the Supreme Court has also sacked the governorship, senatorial and other candidates who won on the APC stable in Zamfara state, stating that they had ‘built upon sand’. INEC has again withdrawn and reissued the certificates of return. This is just as the courts re-awarded the victory of Mr Uzigbo (APC, Okigwe South) to Mr Echendu (PDP) and that of another APC candidate (Nwangele et al Constituency, Imo State) to an Accord candidate. I waited for the press to acknowledge me as the latest prophet in town but I heard nothing. That is why I decided to hail myself; after all the lizard that jumped down from the iroko tree decided to clap for himself since nobody was willing to do so! But for now, I am taking a brief sabbatical from political commentary and I intend to pitch my tent in the first instance, on the entrepreneurial arena.
On 14/5/19, the Pat Utomi powered Center for Values in Leadership hosted its 48th LWT Leadership Tribute Colloquium in honour of Chief (Dr.) Christopher Ikechi ‘Ugwumba’ Ezeh, MFR, Chairman of John Holt and founder of Christopher University, as he turned 76. The theme of the cerebral discourse was: Accountability and Venturing; An accountant as an entrepreneur. Chief Ezeh ‘chattered’ about 50 years and he is an accomplished entrepreneur, with special interest on social entrepreneurship. An intimidating team of resource persons was empanelled for the colloquium and these were Mrs C.Ugochukwu (Executive Director, Fidelity bank); Mr J Evbododaghe (Registrar, ICAN) Bashorun J.K Randle (needs no introduction) Mrs O Ademola (Former LASG Head of Service), Mr Ubong Essien (Dean, School of Elequence) and Prof Patito Utomi, the moderator. These diverse resource persons, firing from diverse perspectives generated new insights as to what is wrong and what we ought to do with Nigerian entrepreneurship and that is what I want to share today.
On Friday, 24/5/19, one of my PG student presenting his assignment stated triumphantly that the greatest challenge of entrepreneurship in Nigeria (and is) finance. This is in line with the popular thinking. But the facilitators and participants at this colloquium made it unequivocally clear that there is money but there have not been ‘takers’ because those who seek the funds do not know where to seek, or how to seek. Mr Olagungu of BOI (he journalist turned banker) told the bewildered audience about the IFC/ World Bank $270m and the FG N300bn entrepreneurship funds that are grossly underutilized. The consensus was that the only way to minimize this funding supply-demand gap was to put capacity (knowledge, attitude, values) before capital, which is an opportunity for those willing to prepare potential entrepreneurs. The panelists regretted that our entrepreneurs have utter disdain for information and are reluctant to patronize professionals who could provide the needed technical support and that they are shooting themselves in the feet by manipulating their tax returns because the tax-man (The Mathews of this generation) would eventually catch up with them and that poor record-keeping was a serious impediment to entrepreneurs
The panelists also decried our entitlement mindset (where people are not interested in work, production, input and output), which is against the entrepreneurial spirit. For instance, they argued that the reason why some employers would prefer a third-class degree holder from UK to a first class degree holder from Nigeria is because the UK graduate would have learnt the culture of work, values, discipline and diligence, traits which are in short supply in Nigeria. Other issues canvassed at the colloquium included the tendency to be jacks of all trade, the alienation of the youths from the regulatory environment, paucity of original and innovative bankable ideas and the usual challenges of corporate Nigeria (infrastructure deficit, policy infidelity and instability, corruption (nobody has responded to audit query at Abuja since 1999), political uncertainty and all that. The honouree, who became an entrepreneur after years in the corporate circuit advised those who wanted to become entrepreneurs after the world of work to develop the entrepreneurial culture during their working lives so as to transit seamlessly on retirement. Attention was also drawn to the fact that things were not all that bad as shown in the commendable performance of the entertainment industry, where the government had no interest originally and the various pro-entrepreneurship programmes being run by the government.
Entrepreneurship has become the in-thing all over the world. However, becoming an entrepreneur is not the issue; it is getting it right. There are many perspectives on the challenges of entrepreneurship and how to get it right. We have just seen some of them and will continue to see others. The entrepreneur should thus gird his or her loins and continuously scan the environment so as to be equipped for the onerous task of identifying and profitably exploiting opportunities.
Other matters: Corporate entrepreneurship; the OGBC Model
We have entrepreneurs; we have intrapreneurs (organizational citizens with entrepreneurial perspectives) we have corporate entrepreneurs, and we have public sector IGR-driven corporate entrepreneurs. Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation appears to be one of these IGR-driven corporate entrepreneurs. But before you start clapping for them, just hear me out. Around 4.30 on 1/11/18, I got demobilized by the usual traffic gridlock on Lagos Ibadan express way and as a way to keep my mind off the frustrating situation, I was fiddling with my car radio until I accessed the strong signals of OGBC 90.5 FM. As I was settling down to enjoy the music, news or commentary, they went for a commercial break and guess what? They were advertising OGBC hygienic ice-blocks! A radio station selling ‘hygienic ice blocks’? Maybe if I had listened long enough, they would be advertising poor water! I took note of that and left it at that. But I heard the advert again this week and that is how it became my ‘other matter’. It was (is) good that OGBC is making efforts to be commercially viable. But methinks that going into ice blocks manufacturing is stretching it too far. They did not diversify into print media, media consulting, online newspapers, journalism training or research into effective mass mobilization. They went into ice block ‘manufacturing’ and before long, they would go into poor-water, if they are not already there. OGBC, I hail!
Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye