As the 22nd Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) conference ends, the Federal Government and governments at all levels has been accused by chief executives of some small and medium scale business of not supporting businesses in the country and of stifling local content in the country.
Leading the pack of aggrieved local investors was the Chief Executuve of Nestoil, Mr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, who disclosed that doing business in Nigeria is more difficult compared with other places in Africa, because the Federal Government had over the years, failed to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
In his presentation at the summit in Abuja, he said “in the oil and gas industry, for instance, innovation and technology has grown, but because government is not partnering with operators, the successes had been stunted.
“You cannot succeed because you just planned to succeed or you planned to do the business. What is the reason? The government has not created the enabling environment for private sector initiative to thrive. You come out of school, you want to start up something, open up a place to do business; the first handshake you get is somebody who is coming to collect money from you, either for one of the other.”
In his further submission, “there is no support from successive governments to encourage local and private people to develop businesses that would in turn create employment for the teeming population.
“A typical example is in the oil and gas industry where I have been for the past 25 years. Innovation and technology has actually grown. We have developed capacity in that industry, but because the environment is not conducive and because government is not partnering with private people, you cannot see any development or anything you can lay hands.
“Again, what happens in the oil and gas industry today, is that Nigerian companies have developed capacity to fabricate a lot of things that are used in the production of oil and gas. You find out that a lot of things are been fabricated in Nigeria and then you now have to ship them to Korea.
“A typical example is the Egina project. We have to produce major vessels in Nigeria, but because that FPSO is been produced in Korea, Nigerian companies are asked, after fabrication to send this things to Onne for shipment to Korea for integration. While can’t we integrate them in Nigeria.
Azudialu-Obiejesi noted further that governments at all levels needed to be told that it is time for it to start partnering with private people, because if they fail to do so, the country would keep on going round in circles.
“Government is supposed to create the enabling environment, collect taxes and royalties and allow businesses to thrive. How will made in Nigeria happen? It cannot happen, because we do not have the support of government.”
Mr. Femi Oye, Chief Executive Officer of SME Funds, emphasized the need for governments at all levels to invest in innovative technology highlighted in start-up companies and also small and medium scale enterprises.
He said this has become necessary considering the fact that banks would only grant loans to small-sized companies if the promoters of the companies can prove they have no need for the money.
Also, Chief Executive Officer, Signal Alliance, Mr. Collins Onuegbu, said government intervention is needed to help de-risk innovative start-ups, through tax rebates, so that they can attract the much-needed funding from other sources.
But in response, the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, maintained that the present administration has a different attitude, adding that the administration should not be judged by what obtained in past administrations.