The Federal Government and governments at all levels has been accused of not supporting businesses in the country and of stifling local content in the country.
This was the views of chief executives of some small and medium scale business the ongoing 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.
Specifically, Chief Executuve of Nestoil, Mr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, disclosed that doing business in Nigeria is more difficult compared with other places in Africa, because the Federal Government had over the years, failed to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
According to him, in the oil and gas industry, for instance, innovation and technology has grown, but because government is not partnering with operators, the successes had been stunted.
He said, “You cannot succeed because you just planned to succeed or you planned to do the business. What is the reason? The government has not created the enabling environment for private sector initiative to thrive. You come out of school, you want to start up something, open up a place to do business; the first handshake you get is somebody who is coming to collect money from you, either for one of the other.”
He stated that there is no support from successive governments to encourage local and private people to develop businesses that would in turn create employment for the teeming population.
“A typical example is in the oil and gas industry where I have been for the past 25 years. Innovation and technology has actually grown. We have developed capacity in that industry, but because the environment is not conducive and because government is not partnering with private people, you cannot see any development or anything you can lay hands.
“Again, what happens in the oil and gas industry today, is that Nigerian companies have developed capacity to fabricate a lot of things that are used in the production of oil and gas. You find out that a lot of things are been fabricated in Nigeria and then you now have to ship them to Korea.
“A typical example is the Egina project. We have to produce major vessels in Nigeria, but because that FPSO is been produced in Korea, Nigerian companies are asked, after fabrication to send this things to Onne for shipment to Korea for integration. While can’t we integrate them in Nigeria,” he explained.
Azudialu-Obiejesi disclosed that governments at all levels needed to be told that it is time for it to start partnering with private people, because if they fail to do so, the country would keep on going round in circles.
He said, “Government is supposed to create the enabling environment, collect taxes and royalties and allow businesses to thrive. How will made in Nigeria happen? It cannot happen, because we do not have the support of government.”
Also speaking, Mr. Femi Oye, Chief Executive Officer of SME Funds, emphasized the need for governments at all levels to invest in innovative technology highlighted in start-up companies and also small and medium scale enterprises.
According to him, this becomes necessary, because banks would only grant loans to small-sized companies if the promoters of the companies can prove they have no need for the money.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Collins Onuegbu, Chief Executive Officer, Signal Alliance, said government intervention is needed to help de-risk innovative start-ups, through tax rebates, so that they can attract the much-needed funding from other sources.
However, Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed that the present administration has a different attitude, adding that the administration should not be judged by what obtained in past administrations.
He also stated that if the country spends about three per cent of its Gross Domestic Product, GDP, on research and innovation, it will not be in the situation it is presently.