Fashola Flags Off First Lagos State Enterprise Day, Advices Young People On How To Build Sustainable Business
• "The future for me lies in a productive economy where people do things with their hands", he says
• Declares July 23 every year as Lagos State Enterprise Day
Jul 23, 2013 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday flagged off the first Lagos State Enterprise Day asserting that the future of the nation lies in building a productive economy where more Nigerians would do things with their hands instead of depending wholly on importation.
The Lagos State Enterprise Day is a day set aside to address the issue of entrepreneurship development among technical college students by bringing them in contact with the entrepreneurs in the private sector for interaction and monitoring sessions aimed at inculcating in them the experiences of building up sustainable business after graduation.
Addressing the large gathering of students and graduates of the various technical colleges and skill acquisition centres in the State, a cross section of entrepreneurs and members of the Organized Private Sector as well as top government functionaries at the Nigerian Employers' Consultative Association (NECA) Hall, Alausa, Governor Fashola said the days of white-collar jobs with suit and ties were already going adding that the alternative lay in building a productive economy.
The Governor told the students and young graduates, "The truth is that the white collar jobs with suit and ties are going because our economy is changing. Nigeria was essentially a trading economy. The companies were not owned by Nigerians. Nigerians were merely employed in those companies who needed a large army of workers, storekeepers, accountants, gatekeepers, book-keepers, clerks, secretaries, etc. All that has changed now".
Counseling the young people in ways to run a successful business, the Governor who cited such successful indigenous entrepreneurs as Henry Fajemirokun, S.B. Bakare, Razaq Okoya of Eleganza fame., Molade Okoya-Thomas and Mrs. Opral Benson, said the only way was to be hardworking and honest.
"Of course there are issues of good and bad business models. You can choose to run your business by cutting corners to make quick money. Such business does not last. Or you can choose to run it prudently and honestly, paying your tax and fulfilling all the obligations required of such business and you can be sure to build a lasting and successful business", the Governor said.
Noting that all the ethics required in building a successful and sustainable business were embedded in the students' business enterprise training, the Governor related his experience while building up his private law practice."There are no short cuts on this journey. There will be quick stops when you reassess and re-energize, but there will be no short cuts. The road to success is hard and winding and only those with the right attitudes, with the right mental framework succeed", he said.
He also counseled them to be innovative and embrace change in the running of their businesses pointing out that without introducing new ways of doing things in their businesses, changing methods and continually learning new techniques and new tools of trade, the business stood in danger of being wiped out by competitors.
"What you will do now as today's entrepreneurs who will build Nigeria's tomorrow is to do the same things that our ancestors have done differently. We are going to do them much more efficiently, we are going to do them quicker, we are going to do them better. You need to continually innovate, reinvest, change tools, change equipment, change your work environment and make it better for your consumers and this for me will be the way", Governor Fashola said.
According to him, "At the time our ancestors were doing business, they kept all their records or ledgers, there were no computers, there were no air conditioners, they used fans. You are the generation that has almost everything, speed, efficiency, i-phones, data, you now have a global search engine, and you can find anything in the world. So you will have no reason to let the past generations defeat you".
Responding to questions from the students and members of the audience, first on the status of technical education in relation to formal education, the Governor explained, "Technical and theoretical education are two parallel lines. None is superior to the other. The originators did them in order to respond to our different abilities. There are people who are good at writing but they cannot speak. There are people who are good at speaking but they cannot write. There are people who are good at thinking concepts out but they cannot build".
"But we need the constant handshake between these two in the society to get things done. Technical education recognizes that there are people who can do things with their hands, who can fix things. How far you go depends on you because like the school certificate, your certificate entitles you to go to university if you so wish to continue. You are the only one who can limit yourself", the Governor said.
On the plan of the State Government concerning the employment of graduates from the technical colleges, Governor Fashola, who noted that 6, 000 of such graduates passed out last year alone, said it was impossible for Government to employ all the graduates but added that his administration was positioning the economy to respond to their emergence.
"What we have done is that we are positioning our economy to respond to your emergence", he told the students, adding that the Government would also issue them contracts for the renovation and maintenance of public building in the State including schools, hospitals, maternal and childcare centres, stadia and others under the office of the State's Facility Management.
He said there was no difference between Government skill acquisition centres and those run by private people pointing out that Government has oversight functions on all institutions to ensure that they meet the required minimum standards including the right tools and equipment for learning and right environment for the students.
On the prospect of finding jobs with private sector operators, the Governor said, "What is important is first to impart and to invest you with skills, which is what the school is doing. If you are good enough, people will come to you because a good thing cannot hide. If you are good, the people who need your services will find you. Beyond that, we are already bringing the people who will need your services to you. That is why we are in NECA's building".
Describing unemployment as a global phenomenon, Governor Fashola declared, "All over the world young people cannot find work. It is not in Nigeria alone. The difference is that those economies we knew have reached their peak. The new frontier is Africa. The largest market in Africa is Nigeria. The biggest market in Nigeria is here in Eko oni baje. So everything is ready except a few things we need to fix".
In her goodwill message, Mrs. Helen Jemirigbe, a director in the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), representing the Director General of N.E.C.A., said the Association decided to partnerwith the Lagos State Government "because Lagos State stands out in the events of several firsts which it has scored especially in what they have been doing in Education", adding that it will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding to work with the State at the Technical College Ikorodu.
Other members of the Private Sector who gave goodwill messages included the Executive Director of Nigerite, Mr. Toyin Gbede, who said the company was constructing a Building Centre in Ikorodu for teaching what he described as Dry Construction work which, according to him is an innovation in building technology, Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Dangote Group, Mr. Paranjit Pabby, who said the Group has built a Dangote Acadeny to train technicians and engineers for it and other private sector operators and a representative of the Managing Director of Nigerdock at the occasion.
In his remarks earlier, the Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry, Mr. Seye Oladejo, noted that the administration of Governor Fashola has focused on policies and innovations that would make life more meaningful for the teeming Lagos population adding that the emergence of new skill, innovative and self-employed generation from the various technical colleges and vocational centres across the state would serve as a catalyst for the much desired economic prosperity of the State.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye described the Enterprise Day as another first in the series of innovative policies by the State Government under Governor Fashola pointing out that Enterprise Education would give confidence to students in tackling job interviews, understanding how businesses are run and everyday enterprise, resourcefulness and flexibility required in building a sustainable business.