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Poor Nigerian business competitive index key attraction for foreign firms—ISPON boss

Contrary to speculations that many foreign investors are trooping into Nigeria because of the massive market based on surging population, President of the Institute of Software Practitioner of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Yele Okeremi has brushed aside the claims.

In an interview, he said “As it stands today, our business competitive index is very low no matter what politicians want us to believe. That is why we see companies from all over the world flooding into Nigeria to come and take over specific industry sectors where Nigerians ought to have occupied”.

While querying how many Nigerian companies have gone outside our country to become successful and global, ISPON boss said “government needs to take the lead to fix this negative trend. Government needs to begin a move towards development and not mere statistical rhetoric of growth without development. As a development economist, I can tell you that the most relevant output of government is development”.

On why technology leaders in most developed economies work with governments to shape policies in key areas such as skill development, digital economy and businesses, but Nigerian leaders don’t follow the trend, Okeremi decried that “majority of Nigerians still consider money as something that comes out of the ground without having to add any value. This is the case of pushing a solely crude oil and purely natural resources economy such as the so-called agriculture without processing or packaging them industrially for export”.

“If you take a look at those who are considered to be wealthy in the Nigerian society, you will realize that we do not have so many who are involved in any form of industrialization or indeed value-addition.

“You will realize that governments and politicians also like to focus on big spending without necessarily looking at areas where there are great potentials in the economy. So as a country, we are suffering from the Dutch disease. In truth, you will see country of paradoxes in Nigeria: Where there is abundance of water, yet the people are thirsty.

“Take a look at the global results in countries that put thinkers first, the wealthiest people are involved in some form of value creation; particularly in the technology space. Contrast that to what we have in Nigeria where it may be difficult to know what wealthy people really do for a living.

Okeremi observed that “the compensation mechanism in Nigeria is completely warped and needs to be fixed. It is when we deal with this that we will begin to accord appropriate respect to those who deserve the respect”.

He linked the failure of the government in recognizing strategic sector like ICT and software development as the reason that have forced local software developers to look for opportunities in the global space.

According to him, “Almost the entire country has been centered on government patronage and contracts, but if you look at the younger generation, they are a lot more interested in developing solutions for either private use or the private sector so the perception of value has moved for them. Secondly, the aspirations of the younger generation are to deliver global solutions so you will realize that they are looking for opportunities in the global space”.

He said this singular mentality is discouraging emerging local developers to avoid becoming members of ISPON.