Unarguably, Nigeria is a blessed country with abundant natural resources which in other climes would have been turned into massive wealth for the good of all. Sadly enough, this has not been the case. Until a few years ago, Nigeria was rated amongst the 25 poorest countries of the world with heavy debt burden, coupled with a worsening unemployment figure.
Today, the nation is witnessing greater unemployment challenges, with increased level of poverty. These challenges no doubt call for urgent practical solutions and schematic steps towards the harnessing and development of the rich resources that abound in the country.
As the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari gets set to take the oath of office, it is essential for him to take a closer look and probably a queue from the aggressive job-creation model of economic rejuvenation by the British conservative party.
The incoming government and his All Progressives Congress, APC, can rework the British model in order to move the country’s economy from its present sorry tale. The incumbent British Prime Minister, David Cameron repeatedly stressed during the last electioneering campaign that the party will ensure the creation of 600,000 new businesses every year between now and year 2020.
Small businesses no doubt account for about 15percent of the British workforce and the economic strategy has worked for the conservatives since 2010 and has placed Britain in an enviable position in Europe.
It remains a fundamental truism that a country’s growth, to an extent depends on the standard and development of its small and medium scale businesses. So its potentials go beyond mere fostering to that of ensuring a genuine economic change. Therefore, it becomes crucial for the incoming administration to focus on growing small businesses as they play vital roles in the economic development of any nation.
If the President-elect is keen on creating more jobs for the mass of the unemployed and move the country out of the poverty line quickly, he would have to adopt the Tory Model for mass agriculture-based job-creation schemes. For instance, countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and others experienced economic turnaround through agriculture. Indeed, a job-creation model built around agriculture will help in reducing rural-urban migration in Nigeria.
It is a truism that SMEs are contributing to national development and an International Finance Corporation, IFC survey in 2010 showed that about 96.0 percent of all businesses in Nigeria were SMEs, and that 39.0 percent of the SMEs were constrained by finance.
In recognition of these, the CBN tried to improve the modus operandi through the N200billion small and medium scale enterprises guarantee scheme, SMECGS; the N200billion restructuring or refinancing to the manufacturing sector; the N220billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, MSMEDF, amongst others are aimed at addressing the financing needs of SMEs.
However, no matter how innovative the strategies for financing SMEs are, appropriate government agencies should commit to providing a proper regulatory framework and creating enabling environment for SMEs to operate. This includes macroeconomic policies that are SME focused, a regulatory regime that is supportive and a legal system that is able to enforce contracts and property rights.
Specifically, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, has a big role to play in development support, advisory services and managerial training of SMEs.
We therefore call on the incoming administration at all levels to emulate the British Conservative Party’s success story by stepping up the template for true development. They can do this by re-energizing all the poverty alleviation programmes of present and past governments.