10 months ago

BusinessDay 11 Feb 2018

18 BD SUNDAY C002D5556

18 BD SUNDAY C002D5556 Sunday 11 February 2018 Interview Governance in Cross River has broken down under Ayade’s watch - Nyong Eyo Etim Nyong, a governorship aspirant in Cross River State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for 2019, in this interview with MIKE ABANG says that the state needs urgent rescue and that his aspiration is to deliver the state from Governor Ben Ayade and his party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Excerpts: Why do you want to run as governor of Cross River State? I am an indigene of Cross River and I am a full-fledged Nigerian. I feel I am qualified to contest for that position. And the position will be vacant come 2019. That is why I am aspiring because I believe I can offer a thousand times better service to my people than what we are getting today. What are your chances, considering the zoning arrangement in the state? Please explain to me what you mean by zoning. There is zoning arrangement in PDP but some people believe it is applicable to all the parties? I have not seen any document on zoning in the state. Let me also tell you that every time there is a governorship election in the state, we have contestants across the state, across the senatorial districts. The issue of zoning now is just sentiment. It has never existed here, even within PDP. Now, I am contesting on the platform of APC. APC is yet to take over power in this state. And we have a right to start from where we think we have a winning opportunity. You don’t have to go and key into a PDP agenda, which means that we are seeking failure and not seeking a win. If we are seeking a win, we have to strategise well and look at where the candidate can come from that will enable us to win. The southern senatorial district produces the greatest percentage of votes in every election in this state. And when you talk about north completing tenure, I don’t know what you mean. The tenure is four years and it is expiring in 2019. Is that not what the law says? Tenure is four years. It is based on your performance and the acceptability of the people that will grant you another one. The tenure that I know in law and constitution is four years. We are not disrupting that. But the incumbent governor has the right of first refusal and should be offered the ticket? Yes, he has the right to say I have done enough. I don’t want again. It is not compulsory. What are you going to do differently from what we are seeing Magbagbeola now if given the mandate as governor of the state? That is going to be a long story. Let me tell you, first of all that the state is totally dismantled. So, we have to recreate almost everything. The governance system is broken down. You have about 6,000 appointees, into what? The ministries have been dismantled. There is no proper governance system in the state. We have to restructure all of that. There is no peace in the land. There is no security in the land. How can you bring development to a state that does not have peace and security? Investors we used to have… this was a tourist destination… Everybody has run away. So many genuine projects that could have impacted the state positively have been abandoned. We need to bring them back. I can talk forever here. As I speak to you this state has no budget. But there is a budget called Budget of Kinetic Chrystallisation? Have you ever heard of that? What about budget of rocket science? It is a joke. If a state like Lagos is budgeting N1.1 trillion, and a heavily indebted, poor state like Cross River is budgeting N1.3 trillion, do you think that is a reasonable budget? That is why I can tell you clearly that we don’t have If a state like Lagos is budgeting N1.1 trillion, and a heavily indebted, poor state like Cross River is budgeting N1.3 trillion, do you think that is a reasonable budget? a budget. Budget is an estimate but your estimate has to be based on facts. They have no budget. Have you ever seen a budget in the past two years? Do you know the budget for last year? Has there been a budget review, telling us the level of implementation of the past years’ budget? That is not the kind of government I want to run. I want to run an inclusive government that carries the people along, a government that meets the needs of the people through direct contact. It is a different story entirely. First, we have to bring back the governance system into the state, because all programmes and projects you have, no matter how beautiful they are, if you don’t have governance structure to drive them, they become a failure. So, we need to get back to that level, we need to restore peace and security in the land, we need to look at the waste management, the multiple potholes that make us jump like a dog all over the streets, and so many other things. Calabar was known for good water supply but now our water board has been shut down forever. People now drill boreholes to get water. It is a shame. Other states came here to find out how our water system was working. Now it is completely shut. It is a shame. I can speak about so many areas, not to talk about fresh infrastructure development, not to talk about industrialisation. The ones we hear of are funny things. You talk about rice city, what is a rice city? What is your definition of it, you are a journalist? What is a rice city? Are people living there? I don’t know about it. I saw branded rice and the other day I heard that the customs impounded several truckloads of rice imported into the state. That is an illegal act, something the federal government has banned. And then you see the branded bags of rice and there is no factory behind it. And the electronic media aired it. There is no factory behind branded rice bags that we are seeing. I cannot embarrass my people like that. Look, we can sit here forever. I have a different mindset for my people.

Sunday 11 February 2018 C002D5556 BD SUNDAY 19 Interview ‘Government should make environment more conducive for entrepreneurs’ Marcel Ofomata is the president, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Abuja and MD/CEO Amaecom Global Limited, an asset financing company. In this interview with OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, the Harvard-trained manager speaks on issues relating to the business world, entrepreneurs’ organisation and the politics of the Nigerian economy. Excerpts: Since you assumed office as president of entrepreneurs’ organisation, abuja, how will you describe the prospects of businesses in Nigeria? I happened to join the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation five years ago. First of all, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation is the only most influential peer-to-peer organisation that brings entrepreneurs together to learn, to grow, network, share experiences and see how we can grow the country economically. I assumed this office about six months ago and since then, we have been trying to bring entrepreneurs together under this umbrella to learn and grow because the truth is that at some levels of the entrepreneurial journey it becomes lonely. But for those of them who are able to join this organisation at this point, you keep learning and networking. And instead of seeing decline, you see growth. The loneliness is no more there and there is that prospect and respect for each other. How has the organisation helped in growing the nigerian economy? The average number of employee from each member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation is about two hundred and here in Abuja we have a lot of them. We also have another chapter in Lagos. You find us in various fields: manufacturing, asset financing like I am, aviation, hospitality among others. It is nothing new to Nigeria however but those of us who have joined the organisation have benefitted so much. Before I joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, I was just a regular business person but Entrepreneurs’ Organisation has given me the exposure, international network and it has made me unnderstand myself better. It has also helped me to give back to the community and understand myself better because Entrepreneurs’ Organisation is not just about entrepreneurs Marcel Ofomata but they go beyond that. They look at your family, the community, your employees. You share experience from vast people who have already made it. We have had the privilege of meeting people like Bill Clinton. My first meeting with the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation was in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s house at Ota Farm. We sat with him for over three hours. In the past years, entrepreneurs who have made their marks we help them in training. Currently, this is my second year in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it is one of the things that the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation organises and when you come back to your country, you begin to see how you effect that in your community. Apart from that, annually we organise what we call the General Student Entrepreneurship programme where we select the best student in any field; a student who is in school and doing business. We select the best among them and we take them out to what we call the General Leadership Conference (GLC). Last year, we took some students from Nigeria to Frankfurt, Germany. This year, it’s going to be in Toronto. Two years ago, a Nigerian student was best in the whole world and won uncertainty in government. I saw investors who advise when you have the only this, you also need to were ready to bring in their opportunity. money but whenever the Are you interested in government of the day is contesting any political coming to an end, they become worried they want As a person, I am not office in 2019? to go back because they passionate about position are not sure of consistency but I am passionate about in policy. And I looked at encouraging and sensitising the people around me. other countries. Take a country like Cameroon I find a candidate whom for instance, it is not a rich I know has the capacity country but if you look and rally around him and at the past twenty years, give him my support. But they have had stability for me to come out to say politically in their currency. I want to take up this position, I don’t think I’m inter- So, investors will be more comfortable to work there ested in that. because they know that What do you make whatever they put there, of the recent executive they are not going to lose. order signed by president So, a situation where a new buhari preventing foreigners from getting jobs government comes and there is a change in policy, nigerians can do? businesses get agitated; The executive order is it doesn’t give them that a welcome development confidence. So, we need because if you go to other to be able to build policies countries - I have travelled and how do we effect that? to over 40 countries and One of the ways is for the sometimes I take time to people in business entrepreneurs to also embrace teract with people. So, the go down the streets to in- politics. One of them is to government has done the get your Permanent Voter right thing because it is to Card (PVC). I have gotten mine. And so we keep population of unemployed protect the growing youth encouraging every entrepreneur to get their PVC. are meant for them are to show that the jobs that They should encourage kept for them. There are others to do so. We need to jobs that foreigners should be part of politics because not take. We expect them if you are not close to those to come up with some expertise and as time goes on, in power then people who know nothing about business are going to make up such responsibilities. we should be able to take policies for you. And at the Oxfam international end of the day, you will suffer for it. So, I am encouragvate businesses of being has accused certain priing entrepreneurs to also behind class inequality fifty thousand naira prize embrace politics. Even if in developing countries. from the organisation. So, you are not going to be active give them the support neurs’ organisation What is the entrepre- Entrepreneurs’ Organisation has this body of rich you can. And this is one of stance on this? resource to help build entrepreneurs. talked to us about and Organisation I belong to the things that Obasanjo The Entrepreneurs’ What do you advise since then, I have had a which I can speak for and government to do to encourage Nigerians to em- talk politics, I don’t want five years, has consistently change of mind. When you I have been a member for brace entrepreneurship? to say ‘No’. I want to see tried to work against class My advice to government is to bring in policies can we do? How can we by learning. And how do what is going on. What inequality. And we do this that encourage entrepreneurship. About four years various state; in my state you get from the class- help? I have done that in you learn? It is not what ago, I had the privilege Anambra, Akwa Ibom, room. For example, one of attending the World Cross River and wherever of the things so powerful Business Forum in Malta, I have the capacity and about the Entrepreneurs’ which had businessmen opportunity, I try to advise Organisation is that every from Commonwealth and influence by my own month we meet together countries. We were looking at Nigeria, the instabilidation and scholarship. I portunity to discuss the example. I have a foun- in a forum. It gives us opty we have passed through have hundreds of students five percent fear that we and why it is not so investor-friendly because of my medical mission. Not Continues on page in my scholarship. I have can’t even discuss with 23