Blue Economy: FG Should Develop Entrepreneurial Policies To Maximize Opportunities -Dawodu
Mr. Mahmoud Dawodu is the Managing Director, FirstUnion. In this exclusive interview with MMS Plus, he discussed the opportunities and challenges with the blue economy while also advocating for the resuscitation of Vocational Training schools’ structures in Nigeria as a panacea to transforming the nation’s economy and as well project the inbuilt potentials of Nigerians. This interview was conducted during the 2018 entrepreneurship training organized by MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF), Women in Leadership and Career Empowerment (WILCEP) Africa Initiative.
Can you please recap the lecture you just delivered on blue economy?
I spoke about the blue economy today and harped on the economy around the oceans and the rivers. Fortunately Nigeria is blessed with large volume of riverside environment and seriously we have not taken advantage of the opportunities around it. Our focus has been sending children to school to study some of these courses around marine and rivers technologies but how much of use have we put our professionals to the opportunities. I haven’t seen so much of the uses because you will find out a situation where somebody who studied marine engineering end up as a banker or is working in the civil service or the local government or other environments that are not of value to what he has studied.
The government of Nigeria has to establish practical focus in taking advantage of the blue economy. It is a new focus around the world today but it does not mean that the opportunities are new. In the world over, focuses are being taken around the blue economy and the Nigerian government just like I have said has to take practical approach towards establishing policies and structures that will bring the focus of the Nigerian people towards the opportunities around the blue economy. For instance, the tourism environment can be taken advantage of. To a large extent, Rwanda has a large percentage of its income from tourism. When compared to Nigeria, we have not done much and we are not making money. We have to take practical steps at increasing the volume and number of people that goes into this blue economy.
Based on your analysis, how could the challenges in the blue economy turned into business opportunities in the nation?
In the blue economic environment, the opportunities for people are very large. I know Nigeria has probably two or three shipyards. We have one in Lagos, one in Akwa Ibom and maybe another one in Rivers State. Government should look at establishing new ones or at least expand the existing ones using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) structure so that government will not be looking for the physical cash to develop the business ventures or the opportunities. Government should allow the private sector to come into it using their money, technology, knowledge and other resources to expand or develop structures in the marine environment. PPP is also not a new terminology to us in Nigeria. It is just that we have not taken advantage of its usage.
Government has no business looking for money to establish so many of these big ventures. Government only needs to tap into the financial capacity of its citizens by bringing them into funding big projects. The structure to fund will now depend on the team or the consultants that are coming together to develop such. Government’s focus should now be on providing an enabling laws and management policies.
What advice would you proffer to Nigerians especially the younger ones to stimulate them to play a significant role that would transform the nation’s economy?
You see! Critically, for the Nigerian economy to grow and for the people to take advantage of the various economic prospects as we have all over the world, it is to have at the back of your mind, the principles of entrepreneurship. It doesn’t mean that an entrepreneur needs very large amount of money.
The Chinese people usually prefer to start small and grow bigger. Using that as a background within ourselves, government should also start to develop policies around entrepreneurship and encourage the young ones to focus more on becoming their own managing directors and business owners. It has to start from primary schools, to secondary and for every human being that have gone through the university.
Entrepreneurial training should also be a critical training focus from the first year to the final year. It shouldn’t be a one semester course. It should be a four year training programme for University and Polytechnic students. That is the only way it can sink into our children that entrepreneurship is just the only way to getting out of urge for employment where they do not exist. And for those who cannot go beyond secondary schools or who cannot advance in education, Nigeria used to have a vocational training structure. We should go back to that template and develop it to modern ones so that people are trained to be their own managers in various vocational fields.
Today, if you want a bricklayer, people will refer you to Cotonou and if you want a painter, you will be referred to Togo. The other time, somebody wanted to repair a car, his friend told him that he needed to go and bring someone from Niger Republic. It is embarrassing. We should go back to the vocational trainings structure that had that has helped Nigerian economy in sustainability in the past and that is just the way to it.
How would you appraise the problems and highlight prospects in the nation’s oil and gas industry?
It is a market that has not been touched at all. We have only been scratching the surface. It is a very large market just like the blue ocean economy. There are lots of opportunities for entrepreneurs, SMEs and big companies but just like I said it has to follow the same template of entrepreneurship and vocational trainings for people to see the advantages and opportunities that are available at the energy market. It is a large market that we haven’t done anything to maximize.
What is your reaction to today’s event?
The organizers, Kings Communication Limited, impressed me and my prayer is that the next one would be a bigger event.