Making economic progress depends on adding value, which is the primary goal of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can also add value by creating jobs. For example, a woman who stitches dresses by hand in a poor community will be very poor. But if she buys a sewing machine, she can produce more and will earn more. And if she earns more, she can hire people to work for her, who can in turn sew more dresses, increase her profit further. It is a very simple process. The more jobs are created, the more value is added and vice versa. Entrepreneurship is by far the most effective method to enable people to earn more, and in turn they will consume more and become participating members of the economy. We all want happiness and try to avoid suffering; we have the same basic human needs and concerns. All human beings want freedom and the right to determine their destiny as individuals and as peoples, and in order to do so, we need the opportunity to rise above poverty.
No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come, we can follow the traditional way, tighten our belts, tighten and tighten, but if we do that it will lead to misery and more unemployment. There is an alternative path. The idea whose time has come is that Nigeria should emerge as a major global and economic power. The alternative path is economic stabilization and a credible structural adjustment program that I will introduce when I become the President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015.
Nigeria has resources in all parts of the country to sell. All states of the federation have products they can produce and export. Within my first 30 days in Aso Rock Villa I will invite the governors to a meeting and encourage them to work with private sector operators to produce and sell what they have not only to other states and Nigerians but also for export to other African Nations and to the rest of the world. Nigeria is an agro-based economy even before the civil war and that is why they did not borrow money to prosecute the war or finances our basic infrastructures and institutions. We should be able to revive this process like it happened in that period where oil is not an issue.
We will introduced competition, both internal competition and external competition. We will made risk taking much more attractive and much more profitable. So we will tried to create an environment conductive to the growth of business. We will remove a large number of controls and regulations, which in the past had stifled the spirit of innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship, and restructured the scope of competition, both internal and external.
My dream is that as we are in a crisis, that we should undertake basic structural changes. Out of that would emerge a new Nigeria, a Nigeria where there will be no poverty, the freedom from poverty, ignorance, and disease. We get that Nigeria becoming a major global player in the world economy. That is the vision that will inspire our economic reforms.
We can do these with the provision for making it easy to start a business in a legal way, securing property rights, and ensuring judicial independence and impartial courts. We will put more emphasis on basic education and health care as priorities. But change must start from within the individual. For individual leaders, finding solution requires a flexible mind. When facing a problem, the leader needs not only a very high level of knowledge and competence, but also the ability to identify the right view and then to act on it.
Helping the poor
Two of the necessary conditions for stimulating entrepreneurship are that government has the right motivation and that they establish and implement the right regulations. These two aspects are linked. For example, a government with the wrong motivation will not establish the right regulations; and indeed, in such you may find government officials living in luxury in the midst of widespread poverty. The right motivation means that the government sees its role as looking after the well being of all the citizens of our country, especially the poor.
Business start ups
It might sound strange, but the fact is that it is much more difficult for an entrepreneur to start a business in a poor environment than in a prosperous one. In many poor environments it is almost impossible for an entrepreneur to set up a business in a legal way: it takes too long, is too complicated, and cost for more than they can afford. The only way is to operate in the black market, and indeed, in many poor communities the black market is greater in size than the official market. The facts are well known, but our government have great difficulty changing the law, often because of the self interest and at times corruption of economic and professional elites who make their money from giving approval for business start ups lawyers, professional institutions, and a large number of government departments that all want to be paid, officially and often unofficially.
Our administration will have the courage, self confidence, and lack of fear to face down vested interest groups like economic elite and act in the interest of society at large. The preoccupation of professionals and government employees will resulting loss of income can be understood, but their situation will be much better once the economy start to flourish through successful entrepreneurship. Lawyers and accountants are well paid in prosperous environment, after all.
Nigeria needs newer banking systems, a banking system that includes micro lending or micro credit has proven extremely effective in helping small business, because it allows for the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.
Micro credit is an ethical business practice. Unlike typical lending practices, which promote the self interest of the lender, micro lending serves the best interest of society at large.
(1) It recognizes and promotes credit as a human right.
(2) It is not based on any collateral or contracts, but rather on trust between the parties involved.
(3) Its goal is to keep interest rates at low levels, rather than to achieve high returns for lenders and investors.
Micro credit is based on the idea that the poor have skills that are under used, and that it is not for lack of skills that people end up poor; it is for lack of opportunity. Micro credit is also based on the premise that poor people are trustworthy and diligent about paying back their loans. Breaking down the stereotype that the poor are unskilled and unreliable is one of the most critical steps in the fight against poverty.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that micro credit alone can solve the problem of poverty; however, micro credit is only one component. For entrepreneurship to flourish, the entire banking system must be fair, efficient, and open to all.
We have inadequate infrastructures, poor roads, power that is available only intermittently, lack of safe drinking water and no sewage system, insufficient schools, hospitals, and medical doctors. We need to make huge investment in these areas, as well as in training and paying for qualified teachers and doctors to provide their people with a decent standard of living and to bring down infant mortality rates and increase life expectancy substantially. As the population grows, so does the size of the investment needed.
We are not going to shy away from trying out good new ideas. We will level with you on what works and what does not work. We will keep the good ideas and get rid of the bad.
New Initiative: Our New Markets Initiative will help to bring economic development and renewal to communities that have not benefited from the soaring city economy by pumping approximately N115 billion in new investments in rural areas.
Internet Access in Rural Area: Our administration will highlight the importance of closing the digital divide and bringing the benefits of technology to underserved communities. High-speed Internet access is as important to the economic vitality of a community as roads and bridges are today, allowing people to upgrade skills using distance learning and helping businesses communicate electronically with customers and suppliers. My 2012 budget will include N345 billion programs at the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Agriculture to accelerate private sector deployment of broadband networks in under-served urban and rural communities, using loan guarantees.
Investment in Rural Areas: To spur economic development in distressed communities, My Administration will create 36 Empowerment Zones and more than 360 Enterprise Communities, including 596 rural government buildings, which will create new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. This would have a dramatic effect in the areas with high unemployment, weak economies, shortages of affordable housing and other problems. Our administration will propose N270 billion in funding for Rural and Urban Empowerment Zones in 2012.
Supporting Economic Development: My Administration will offer N165 billion in grants and loans for the year 2012 to support the development of new or expanded businesses in rural area of Nigeria. Of these funds available through the small Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, about N75 billion are expected to fund rural cooperatives.
Our business assistance package would invest more than N425 billion for the creation or expansion of rural businesses across the Nigeria, an investment estimated to create more than 4.5 million rural jobs, most of them in areas of high unemployment.
Providing Housing Opportunities: The Environment/Housing Ministry will work with non-profit and private sector partners to offer direct housing loans and loan guarantees to needy families. Single Family Housing program will reach more rural people in need than almost any other housing program. In 2012, our administration will invest N755 billion in rural housing through this program, providing over 420,000 new or rehabilitated homes for low and moderate income families including over 1500 units for domestic farm laborers.
Strengthening Rural Hospitals: To ensure that rural hospitals are able to meet the health care needs of working families, my administration will begin the Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, which will allow the creation of a new category of rural hospitals called emergency access hospitals (EAHs). States will receive grants to develop a rural health plan, help communities decide which hospitals should convert to EAHs and promote the development of rural health networks that include enhanced delivery of emergency medical services.
Access to Community Services: Our administration will invest N375 billion in rural community projects such as child and adult care facilities, hospitals and health clinics, and public safety facilities, through the Ministry of Health.
Building a Strong Infrastructure: Under my leadership, with a newly established Rural Utilities Service, rural communities can find technical guidance and loan assistance for improving infrastructure. Our administration will direct an additional N935 billion to electric, telecommunications, water supply and waste disposal infrastructure projects in rural communities just for the year 2012. Twenty million rural residents will enjoy the benefits of improved water or waste water service, including 840,000 residents who will receive running water in their homes for the first time.
Clean Water and Healthy Communities: My administration will propose N620 billion in the year of 2012 budget for the Clean Water Plan. We will create an Environment Police Department that will oversee the environment around our coasts. My administration will propose N90 billion in grants to combat pollutution in coastal areas.
Providing Safe Drinking Water: Our Administration will award over N200 billion in Ministry of Agriculture/Water loans and grants for over 250 safe drinking water projects in rural areas of 36 states. These grants and loans will target rural communities plagued by some of the nation's worst water quality and dependability problems.
Reserve Enhancement Program: The reserve enhancement program is a new voluntary initiative using State, Federal, and private funding to help address specific grassroots environmental issues related to agriculture, combining the Conservation Reserve Program with State programs. This framework allows Ministries to share costs and resources with State governments and local interests to address specific local environmental problems in a designated target area. Our administration will commit over N333 billion and N122 billion in non-Federal funds. States will have to sign agreements to help preserve thousands of acres along waterways throughout the nation.