Entrepreneurship for Nigeria on a borrowed foundation: E dey patch am, e dey leak

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After a disease broke out in Salim continent, the different villages in Salim began searching for a cure. Due to their improved soil texture, Hot-River village discovered a plant (Gaya) whose leaves cure the disease and its symptoms. So, Hot-River villagers began growing the Gaya plant to sell it expensively to other villages that could pay for it. Though, Green-sky village has Gaya seeds, their soil was secretly poisoned by Hot-River, so that it cannot grow Gaya plants. Hot-River refuses to help Green-sky treat their soil, instead they insist on helping few Green-Sky villagers to install distribution depots for selling Hot-River’s Gaya plants in exchange for Green-Sky’s Gaya seeds. Hot-River continues to flaunt the misbalanced exchange of few Gaya plants for multiple Gaya seeds as entrepreneurial help to Green-Sky.[1] Without evaluating their style of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign assistance to developing countries could become subtle covers for neo-colonial exploitation.


Since the arrival of this millennium, entrepreneurship and “self-employment” have been prescribed as major cures for poverty in Nigeria.[2] Following advices from foreign economic ‘experts’,[3] different administrations preach and sponsor few Nigerian youths to pursue entrepreneurship. Also, several foreign aid packages, summits and fellowships for Africans attach entrepreneurship as a major condition for sponsorship. They insist that entrepreneurship developed the West and other parts of the world, and can also develop Africa. This emphasis on entrepreneurship rouses an interest for understanding the concept, context, stages and effects of entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria.


What is entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the process of “making money by starting or running businesses, especially when this involves financial risks.”[4] It involves efforts from individuals who invest resources to produce, modify, buy, sell or supply goods and services for money.[5] Entrepreneurial stages are grouped into primary (mining/harvesting raw-materials), secondary (industrially transforming raw-materials into finished goods) and tertiary (distributing to users).[6] Though the primary stage provides the basic raw-materials, the secondary often require specialized labour to convert raw-materials into useful items, thereby yielding larger income. The tertiary entrepreneurs store, display and supply products to midway or end users.


Progressive societies develop socio-political systems for ORGANIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP that enable smooth transition between the primary, secondary and tertiary stages of entrepreneurship. Hence, the miners and farmers easily supply their raw-materials to engineers who technologically refine and package the products for distributors. Even when a progressive society lacks sufficient raw-materials to refine, they source for affordable raw-materials from other societies. All developed and high-earning nations like Japan and USA have organic entrepreneurship systems connecting the primary, secondary and tertiary production.


Human needs and the rise of modern entrepreneurship in the West

Humans in different parts of the world formed societies to collaborate in owning and managing their resources for meeting their needs.[7] Before the industrial revolution in 1765, most production activities were done using manual labour, which often involved slave-labour from conquests.[8] After the industrial revolution in Europe, industrial machines replaced slave labour in production, and steam/oil/gas energy replaced muscle-power/stamina. The efficiency of industrial machines in processing larger volumes of resources drove Europeans to seek more raw-materials for increased production.[9] Also, the increase in products required consumers who would steadily demand and exchange the finished goods for other desirable commodities.


Poisoning the socio-political soil against Nigeria/Africa’s organic entrepreneurship

In search of raw-materials for running their factories and steady markets for surplus production, many Europeans moved down to Africa. Their objectives were clear:  establish colonial systems for getting cheap raw-materials from Africa and make Africans dependent on European products. To achieve these, Europeans slaughtered the Africans who resisted their invasion,[10] and appointed loyal indigenes to administer the conquered territories.[11][12] Without regarding the cultural, religious and political differences between the different peoples, Europeans imposed illogical ‘national’ boundaries on the unconsented people.[13] Before leaving at independence, the colonialists trained and militarily enabled the loyalist/indigenous appointees to seize and export the unconsented people’s raw-materials to Europe in exchange for foreign goods and services.[14]


To appear democratic, Nigeria’s colonially-imposed government created states, local governments and ministries to share imported goods and services as infrastructure and salaries for civil servants and politicians. Yet, despite the arbitrary creation of constituencies, districts and states, Nigerians have never agreed on anything about Nigeria.[15] Instead, the imposed government relies on military force to obtain cooperation for whatever idea or policy they want.[16] Presently, the most viable industry in Nigeria is public administration,[17] which confiscates and auctions people’s resources[18][19][20] and briefly shares foreign goods. Without local productivity, infrastructural costs and salaries for politicians/civil servants quickly flow back to industrialized nations as payment for foreign products.


Effects of the poisoned socio-political soil in Nigeria

Presently, the different people who were brutally yoked under the British-made political structure cannot access their raw materials for production. Without access to mineral resources for production, the people cannot build heavy-steel-industries nor produce the tools and commodities they need. The social effects include unproductivity, unemployment, poverty, crime, corruption and extreme dependence on foreign products. The desperate dependence of about 150million Nigerians on foreign products outweighs the country’s capacity to pay with cheaply auctioned raw-materials. Also, the countries supplying these goods and services impose high taxes and duties on exported goods, thus increasing the costs. The result is that Nigeria and other African countries continuously incur huge debts by overdependence on foreign goods and services.


Situation of entrepreneurship in Nigeria today: INORGANIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The government’s confiscation of Nigerian people’s mineral resources for export removes the primary and secondary stages of entrepreneurship from Nigeria. Now, Nigerian entrepreneurship implies searching for foreign consumables, machines or services to sell, modify or use to provide paid services. Those who obtain finance through government contracts, accumulated salaries, loans or crime quickly begin marketing foreign goods and services. The government-assisted entrepreneurs easily obtain tax-waivers and contracts to enjoy monopoly, while the others are multi-taxed till they go bankrupt.


“In the colonial society, education is such that it serves the colonialist… In a regime of slavery, education was but one institution for forming slaves.”[21] Presently, Nigerian education teaches how to count, use, prescribe, administer and report foreign goods and services without producing theirs.


The overhyped emphasis on entrepreneurship in a disorganized political climate leads to an increase in the number of premature/unsustainable business ventures. Desiring the almighty “CEO-title” in a society that lacks a stable primary and secondary production system leads to frustration. Presently, Nigerian youths race towards self-employment by competing among themselves to market foreign products or gather and export raw-materials. They are not encouraged to collaborate in using their natural resources for all-round technological production and shared profits.


Efforts to lessen poverty as a product of inorganic entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Observing the deepening poverty in Nigeria and the growing debt, several international experts move to intervene.[22] The first step in any intervention involves identifying the root-cause of the problem, in order to provide effective solutions. The international ‘intervention’ experts made various efforts to identify the root-cause(s) of poverty and indebtedness in Nigeria, which include:


  • Blaming the victim: international fallacies of false cause and generalization

Several foreign ‘experts’ describe Nigerians as lazy, greedy and “fantastic-corrupt” people, whose corruption strangulates any possibility of economic growth. They insist that Nigerians lack fiscal discipline[23] and are intellectually unable to understand the process of technological production. Chinua Achebe recounts the Western intention for Africa’s economy saying: “We were told that technologically we would have to rely for a long, long time on the British and the West for everything.”[24]


For some reasons, these accusations appear fallacious:


First, some Nigerians seem discouraged and confused about the imposed social structure, thus engaging in corrupt practices for survival. However, that is not a cause in itself, but an effect of the colonially-deformed political structure imposed on unconsented peoples. Referring to a brutally-merged, unconsented and militarily-confined people as a democratic entity is a social generalizing fallacy of international proportions.


Second, the claim that Nigerians are lazy and unproductive people represents another fallacy of historical proportion. Before colonialism, many Igbo and Yoruba communities had rich blacksmiths and farmers, Borno people had crafts, hides and skin, Oyo Empire was massive and agriculturally productive, Benin kingdom had a properly ordered city high walls and so with many other peoples that have been emasculated in the imposed social structure. Though they did not have the modern technology for advanced productivity, they were and are still eager to learn.


Third, claiming that Nigerians are unintelligent and incapable of technological productivity under an organic political structure contradicts history. As early as the 1960s, “European oil companies insisted that oil-industry technology was so complex that we would never ever in the next 500years be able to figure it out.”[25] But within two years of the civil war, the defunct Biafran Research and Development unit refined petrol, developed a great number of rockets, bombs and telecommunications gadgets.[26] Apart from Nigerians’ success in diaspora, a visit to Umuahia war-museum reveals their intellectual capacity as at 1967. Those productive efforts would have advanced better if not for the choking political structure imposed and sustained on unconsented peoples.


  • Blaming insufficient savings and capital investment

Foreign economic experts like Harrod R.F. and Domar E.D. insisted that national economic growth depends on the rate of savings and capital invested.[27] Thus, foreign experts and IMF officials, who brought Structural-Adjustment-Programs (SAP) said Nigeria was not raising enough capital for economic growth. Capital is defined as “a large amount of money that is invested or is used to start a business.”[28] But for post-colonial Africa, capital means having sufficient receipts (cash) as evidence for sending crude resources to industrialized nations. These receipts (cash) from bringing crude resources and the promise to bring more (debts) are what qualify Africans for obtaining foreign goods and services.


Wealth is created by applying scientific intelligence on crude resources like farm products and mineral resources from mining[29] before distribution. Thus, the contradiction in Africa’s “raising-capital-to-remove-poverty” is that obtaining capital implies removing the raw-materials for creating wealth. It is like trying to free a farmer from poverty/hunger by cheaply collecting his farm-products in exchange for few expensive meals. Hence, there may never be sufficient capital from this form of trade and political structure to free Nigeria from poverty.


  • Blaming insufficient demands and spending

Keynes J.M. suggests that economic growth comes from having sufficient demands and spending for goods and services in a society.[30] He opines that an increase in demands for goods and services motivates business owners to invest more to earn more. This theory provides an excuse for Nigerian government to spend frivolously on inflated and nonpriority projects like high-class stadiums and malls. However, since there is no local productivity, the money spent by government quickly goes back to the industrialized societies.


Demands can be distinguished between viable and nonviable demands according to the demander’s ability to pay for the demands. There is a high demand of goods and services from millions of hungry, sick, homeless, illiterate and uncomfortable Nigerians. Regrettably, by confiscating people’s production resources, the imposed social-structure restricts the cash-flow (pay-ability) to top civil servants, politicians and business allies. Thus, the demand for goods and services by the masses becomes nonviable, since they cannot pay for it.


Insisting on entrepreneurship despite its inefficiency after 50years suggests that these ‘experts’ are either impractical or simply wicked. Comparing global spread of entrepreneurship/self-employment, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) observed that richer countries have more multi-shared corporations than self-employment drive. Self-employment dispersion was 9percent in USA and UK, 25percent in Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia and above 50percent in Africa.[31]


The foreign experts’ idea of entrepreneurship for Africa is like circulating water through pipes in a building without generating water. It resembles borrowing to install pipes for distributing insufficient and costly water from distant neighbours’ for few residents. In this case, economic growth can come from being able to generate your own water for the distribution within your house.


Purifying the soil of political instability for organic entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship can be a noble force for multiplying and distributing wealth to different parts of a society and also Nigeria. However, without reorganizing the society for collaborative productivity, the overhyped entrepreneurship may not save Nigeria/Africa from poverty and hunger. Hence, Nigeria and other African societies who wish to free themselves from poverty may take the following steps:

  • Conducting a social research to determine and acknowledge the different colonially-bound peoples and their respective lands and resources.[32]
  • Organizing intercommunal conferences within sections and groups towards a national conference for the different peoples to agree on their partnership style. Thus, constitutional decisions and laws will reflect the people’s beliefs and agreement for a better partnership and technologically productive collaboration.
  • Inviting willing local (and maybe foreign) specialists to train the people to process their local resources for further industrial production. Hence, each section of the society will work to specialise in producing more of whatever natural resources they have.
  • Releasing the people’s resources for industrial productivity and eventual tax-payment to the central government. This will motivate the government to encourage and protect people’s productivity for better tax-returns. A productive people with active industries will generate enough raw and semi-processed materials for entrepreneurs to refine and distribute. They will also be able to afford the goods and services to be provided by the entrepreneurs as viable demands.


Encouraging proper entrepreneurship

  • Creating opportunities for people with viable ideas to obtain easy loans to gather labour and raw-materials from local producers for their businesses.
  • Fortifying agencies to regulate the different stages of production for optimizing standard of goods and service-delivery among entrepreneurs. This includes websites and apps for local producers and entrepreneurs to register their supplies and industrial demands respectively.
  • Using indigenous construction entrepreneurs to create and maintain[33] routes and means of distribution for local goods and services.
  • Encouraging collaboration between several entrepreneurs for better output and encouraging Nigerians to patronize their entrepreneurs.


If properly fixed, entrepreneurship has a capacity of spreading wealth and opportunities in a society, even in Africa. It simply has to spring from the people’s collaborative productivity and harmonized initiatives, instead of trickling down as government subsidy or international charity. Otherwise, it remains a distraction from productivity, favouring foreign producers, whose goods and services are marketed by local entrepreneurs.


In the development of an organic society, production for local sustenance precede and support production for trade. Healthy entrepreneurship depends and progresses from a people’s technological productivity, not imported goods and services.

[1] Salim continent represents the world;  Hot-River village represents the West as former colonialists;  Green-sky village represents Africa;         The disease represents human needs;            Gaya seeds represent human, natural and mineral resources; The soil for growing Gaya seeds represents a country’s political structure;    Gaya plants and leaves represent industrial and technical products;       Poison in the soil represents social disorder and political instability.

[2] Francis Ogbimi, Solution to mass unemployment in Nigeria (Ile-Ife: OAU press, 2007) p.9

[3] Francis Ogbimi, op. cit. p.10

[4] Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, International Student’s Edition. S. V. Entrepreneur.

[5] Ibid. S.V Business

[6] For intellectual resources, the primary stage is research/thinking, secondary is organization of discoveries for use and tertiary is publication or presentation.

[7] Aristotle, Politics, Bk 1

[8] J Oladele Fadeiye, Essays on modern world history (Lagos: Murfat publications, 2009), p.80.

[9] Cf. Oladele Fadeiye, European conquest and African resistance (Lagos: Murfat publications, 2011), p.29

[10] S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues contemporary political economy of Nigeria (edited) Hassan A. Saliu, op.cit, p.57

[11] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishing Inc. 2009), p.273

[12] C. C. Dibie, Essential Government (Lagos: Tonad Publishers, 2012), p.137

[13] cf. Richard Dowden, Africa altered states, ordinary miracles. (New York: Public Affairs, 2010). p.3-4

[14] Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.319.

[15] Richard Dowden, p.445

[16] Olusegun Oladipo, “The need for a social philosophy in Nigeria”, convocation lecture in Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Nigeria. May 8th, 2008. P.14

[17] Cf. Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.22

[18] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2 “… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”  “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”  “The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”

[19] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[20] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[21] FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front) Department of Education and Culture 1968, quoted in Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.246

[22] Francis E Ogbimi, op. cit. p.10

[23] International Labour Organization, reported in Solution to mass unemployment in Nigeria by Francis Ogbimi, op. cit. p.10

[24] Chinua Achebe, There was a country (USA: Penguin books, 2012), p.157

[25] Chinua Achebe, op. cit. p.157

[26] Chinua Achebe, op. cit. p.156

[27] Francis Ogbimi, op. cit. p.16

[28] Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, op. cit. S.V. Capital

[29] Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.23

[30] Francis Ogbimi, op. cit. p.13

[31] International Labour Organization, referenced in “Solution to mass unemployment in Nigeria” by Francis Ogbimi, op. cit. p.10

[32] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. https://restartnaija.com/2018/06/05/social-research-new-consented-nigeria/ retrieved 22nd July, 2018

[33] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Maintenance culture and inefficient monitoring capacity in Nigeria” in Restartnaija, 8th May, 2018. https://restartnaija.com/2018/05/08/maintenance-monitoring-nigeria/ retrieved 22nd July, 2018