By Temitope Ajijola
Please accept my sincere congratulations on the anniversary of Nigeria’s 55th Independence. I wish you and members of your family and cabinet a Happy Independent Day. Also, let me use this medium to congratulate you on your recent victory and emergence as the President of Nigeria. I wish you the very best.
Millions of Nigerians share common objective of seeing a greater Nigeria as we start a new phase in our emerging democracy especially with the major promises or let me say, anticipation of greater country with the coming in of a new administration and political party altogether at the centre. Naturally, we expect a different approach where things haven’t worked out well for us as a Nation and a continuation and even higher velocity in areas where things are working for us.
Speaking about things that is working for us or not, I will like to quickly draw your attention to a few areas where I believe you should now focus your attention and of course, more resources – Wealth Creation.
When I say wealth creation, I mean empowerment of your people to create wealth for themselves, which will ultimately be a bigger source of revenue to Nigeria than the conventional oil wealth we have known before now. Permit me to share this idea with you, Sir.
Nigeria must totally move on from dependence on oil wealth. In the most developed countries of today, oil wealth isn’t among the top sources of income. At 55 years old, Nigeria is overdue in taking its own place among the committee of world’s richest countries. What is the secret? If you carry out research on why the rich countries are truly rich and financially independent and stable, they all have something in common. Their citizens are rich. They have been empowered to make money and the more money the citizens make, the more money the government makes in the form of tax.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, GM, no make a few, have more money than many countries of the world today and it’s actually sad to say this Sir, including your own country Nigeria. The annual budget of Google for instance is much bigger in multiple folds than that of Nigeria. Now imagine the kind of tax money Google pays to the US Government. Sir, until your turn your attention to the income from tax, we will continue to struggle as a nation. Oil money must be supplementary.
Let’s come back home. How can we achieve this in Nigeria? It is very simple sir. Do you have a record of the number of Small & Medium Scale businesses in Nigeria? I am not sure this information is readily available to you sir. Do you have a record of take for instance the number of road side mechanics we have in the entire country? Or maybe in major cities like Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Abuja, etc.? I am also not sure this information is readily available to you. I am sure you now get my point here Sir. If we don’t have this information, it is very much impossible to know how much wealth we generate from SMEs.
How can we make this happen?
1. Register them
Firstly Sir, make it very very easy for SMEs to register their businesses. Please pardon my use of the word ‘very’. I was only trying to make you see the emphasis. In fact, if it is logistically possible, let us get Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) staff to physically visit SMEs we have in the country, starting with a pilot state or states, maybe two or three. Take for instance, Lagos and Abuja. Get them to register as easy and cheap as possible. In fact, I will say for free. For the sake of example, let’s focus on Road Side Mechanics here.
2. Screen Them
How do we screen these people? How many of them did we register? Let’s assume we registered five thousand (5,000) mechanics. Questions that easily come to mind are:
a) How much do they need to operate a standard Garage?
b) How many staff will they need to run the garage?
c) How much space will each require? A plot? Two plots?
d) What kind equipment will they require to operate?
All of these questions will be answered by trained personnel or government consultants so at the end of the day we can actually come around three thousand (3,000) genuine businesses after much screening.
3. Establish Them
Empower the Bank of Industry or any other financial institution approved by the government to set them up for them a proper Car Garage business. Let’s assume each of the 3,000 requires One Million Naira (N1m) each to start up. The government has only invested how much now? 3,000 x N1000000 which Three Billion Naira (N3bn). This is enough to set up three thousand SMEs (Garages) in two of the busiest and most profitable cities in the country.
4. Control Investment
Appoint collection banks and/or agencies that will work with, report and consult with each of the mechanics. These people will act as cashiers and all cash payment for services will go to them so as to help the Garage owners from mismanaging funds. Why are we doing this? Each of the three thousand businesses will sign agreement with the government that every month, they pay back a fixed tax amount into the government account for a number of years, say 10 years after which they will be subjected to paying standard tax rates because they will grow bigger.
5. How will the government make money?
Mr. President, let’s do a little calculation here. If they pay back Twenty Thousand Naira (N20,000) monthly for the next 10 years. That will be N20000 x 120months x 3000 SMEs which will give the government Seven Billion Naira (N7bn). This is the least the government will make from 3000 local mechanics because after 10 years, 3000 garages will most definitely have multiplied by another 50% as they will grow bigger than this. And how much did we invest? N3bn. That is a profit of N4.2bn minimum. We are only talking of two cities Sir.
There are other SMEs we will empower. We have Salons, Hotels, Agriculture (Fish, Cattle, Poultry, Piggery), Plastic, Medium Scale Manufacturing, etc. If we make N4bn in each of these Sir, we are talking of multiple means of income for the government from difference sources of income.
Immediate Tangible Benefits
1. Wealth Creation
2. Multiple Job Creation
3. Higher Standard of Living
4. Economic Growth
5. Peace in the country
What more? Your government will definitely have more time to focus on the major government business that major on industrialization in the country and International Businesses, Image Advancement and Security in the region.
Mr. President, this is a little bit of my contribution to the country at 55 years independence. I believe if you take this blueprint and make sincere efforts to implement them, we will experience massive growth in the economy which I believe is one of the biggest issue and plans the government has.
Once again, Happy Independence to Nigeria.
Temitope Ajijola is a Business Project Manager in the world’s largest airline. He is massively passionate about National Transformation, mentoring young people and has impacted many in his blog and website.