Today on BeInspired Show, we are discussing the very important subject of Entrepreneurship, Government and Development in Nigeria. I belt this is the most intense interview you have ever seen!
- Meet our honourable and very Special Guest.
My name is Crusoe Osagie, I’m a media practitioner, started practicing in the year 2000. From core journalism; I ventured into media management, branding and advertising. Currently, I’m working as the Media Adviser to the Governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
- A lot of persons dive into entrepreneurship for the wrong reasons, some because there are no jobs and others because they think it’s a quick way to get rich. What do you have to say about this?
There are various views about how you become an entrepreneur. Some people say entrepreneurs are born, other people think you become an entrepreneur by learning. The jury is still out on which one is correct.
Entrepreneurship essentially begins with the motivation that is self stimulated by the individual. It happens when you can identify a need within a space. Then work towards meeting that need. In doing that, all other things happens.
The challenge most people have is the mindset that; if you want to be rich, the next thing to do is to be an entrepreneur. Not all entrepreneurs are rich.
“Entrepreneurship is not the pathway to wealth”. You can be an entrepreneur and be rich. You can be an entrepreneur and not be rich as well. It depends.
The question is; have you been able to identify a need, have you equipped yourself with the skills and wherewithal to provide solutions to that need? Then, of course, naturally, when that happens, there will be a market and when there is a market, that means you will get revenue flow.
But, the first thing you must have in mind if you must be an entrepreneur is not the desire to be rich or to make money, you will not be a successful entrepreneur by that. Sometimes, you will have to go for a long time without making no money or achieving any grand success.
What underlines and perhaps sustain entrepreneurship is the desire to meet a need. That’s it!
However, one of the natural things that follows the steps to solving a problem is that when you start meeting needs, you create value. Once value is created, revenue will flow.
So because it is almost always the case, people think that it is because of money or the need to be rich that makes people venture into entrepreneurship. But it’s not so.
- Let’s talk about those that are already entrepreneurs. Many times when we discuss with young Startup Founders, their challenges are usually power, finance and human resource. Looking at your journey as an entrepreneur, how best would you advice they tackle these challenges?
The first thing that an entrepreneur must have is passion for the problems that he has chosen to solve. That passion will create a drive and that drive will be an energy that helps you surmount all the challenges that may come between you and the goals you are trying to achieve.
The question is what problems have you decide to solve, do you have sufficient motivation to pursue and deal with it, how much passion do you have to solve that problem?
If these questions are answered yes, then all other things will fall in line, you will find a way around it!
But if what is driving an individual is money, or fame, once a slight challenge comes up, the person becomes discourage.
- We understand you’ve been in government for a while now: and we know that the Government has not done so much for the Nigeria citizens, talking about Power for instance, what do you have to say about this?
I believe that in general terms, Nigerians should have benefited more from the Government than they have in the pass 20 or 21 years of our democracy. Democracy kicked off in 1999.
Until that time, there were military rule. Those were illegal Government. They did not have any contract with the people. Whatever they did was law, so you can’t even talk about what to benefit from a government that is illegal.
You start talking about what you benefit from the Government from when we started having legal Government in Nigeria and that started in 1999.
If you compare our country with other democracies like the United States, which is usually the benchmark for many people when comparing countries, you find out that our democracy is still relatively young.
Even though we ought to have received more from the Government, I believe that we have not done too badly.
Having said that, we’ve been learning the course in governance for the past 21 years. It’s taking a while for us to learn, but learn we must.
Even in the United States there were periods where corruption made it difficult for them to advance. The phase we are in as a people, is a phase that most democracies also pass through.
Our people are less patient with us because of the times that we are in. We are in the 21st century. Nobody wants to wait, everybody is pushing, everybody wants to get what he thinks he deserves right now.
Could the Government have done better since we had democracy, yes! We could have done better. But have they done anything at all, of course, they have done some things.
To have been able to sustain democracy from then till now is one big achievement. Sustaining legal role among ourselves for 21 years is one good achievement we have had.
All the other areas where we are distorting and making mistakes, we are learning from them. Power problem, for instance, this was good before, but eventually, the military took over government, they didn’t make any investment for many years and then democracy came, corruption issues made it difficult for the money the first administration, Obasanjo administration put into power really materialize. We went back to privatize the power sector again under Jonathan. There have been a lot of merry-go-round.
Yes, Nigerians deserve better, but then, I think the Government needs some time to get everything that they are doing right and deliver this to the people.
I also always like to turn it around to the people, because there is a saying that “the people always get the government that they deserve”. The people who are clamoring, how much of a good citizens are they?
When election comes now and somebody approaches you and says; I have N500 to give you, vote for me. Are you going to take that money from him?
Government cannot be assessed without the people themselves that put that government in power. The Government is only as good as the people who emplaced that Government. So the people also have responsibilities. As the executive arm of Government grows, the people who they are leading also have to grow.
They have to come a time when the people will take a stand and say this is the person we believe can deliver well for us in leadership and this is the person we will give our vote to. But if your vote will be subject to who gives you money, then you do not even have the right to ask any benefit from that Government.
- I will quickly want to say that, some persons believe, even though an illegal Government, the military Government did much more for Nigeria. Looking at most of our Federal roads, for instance?
But that’s wrong, you cannot grade somebody that is not open to assessment. You could say you took first in the class, meanwhile, you didn’t show us your report card.
The military was an illegal Government. Their Government was never audited. They didn’t have any balancing act that exist in democracies, when you have the National Assembly, the judiciary and everybody working and watching each other. Every year, you are expected to announce a budget, people deliberate the budget with you and at the end of the day, they come and tell you how well you performed.
But if you are the teacher, the student and the examiner, then the result you give yourself will always be doubtful. And that’s what happens in military.
The military comes up and say “we did very well for you”. With how much? Did Nigerians even have the right to know how much revenue they were getting? No, we didn’t. But today, we have the right to know how much we are earning as a Government and as a people.
So, it is a wrong conclusion to say that we got more during the days of the military than we are getting now.
- Alright, quite understand that. But can we also say we are getting proper recording from this present democratic Government?
The budget of the country is a public document, everybody has access to it. You can have the budget, you can check it and see how much we are earning and spending.
At the end of every fiscal year, every Nigerian has the right to investigate what percentage of the budget was implemented. The budget is there, you could check. You can ask the Ministry of Finance; how much was allocated for this role? The information is pretty much there.
Another problem we have is that we are not empowered enough with knowledge and access to seek these informations.
Many of our people are not even intellectually empowered enough to seek many of these informations. Some of you will just talk on social media and make all kinds of noise. But you don’t really ask the right questions, you don’t go to the places where these questions should be asked. You just rant on social media and go to sleep.
But these records are actually there, they can be obtained. You can actually get real information.
- Back to entrepreneurship, how do you foresee the place of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, do you think it is sustainable in five or six years from now?
I think the mindset of the average Nigeria is wrong and faulty. That’s the biggest problem with our entrepreneurial drive and story. The average Nigerian requires reorientation and that’s because the average Nigeria is only trying to be rich.
He doesn’t want to help. And that’s not what entrepreneurship is all about! Entrepreneurship is about someone who wants to help, someone who is trying yo solve a problem. And that’s the foundation of entrepreneurship.
If you are not there to help, if you are not there to meet a need or solve a problem. You are not an entrepreneur, and you are not going to succeed. So, the problem is, many Nigerians have a completely wrong attitude to whatever they do, whether entrepreneurs or workers.
A certain engineer who was working with some multinational companies in Nigeria told some of us during a meeting many years ago that Nigeria is the only country where he had worked, he had worked in several countries as an oil and gas engineer; he said Nigeria is the only country in the world where every young person knows that he will be rich. Every young person he has met, they are sure that they are going to be rich.
Everybody just believes that the only thing that measures success is wealth, when you have plenty of money. And so everybody launch up on different targets trying to make money. But that is not what makes you a successful entrepreneur.
Successful entrepreneurs are people who can identify a gap in society and then successfully bridge that gap. I was watching CNN yesterday, and I saw a liquor company, liquor companies are companies that makes alcohol.
As the corona virus thing hits, what they did was, they changed their lines; from just making alcohols for people to drink, they are now making hand sanitizers, because it’s the same thing. It is alcohol you use.
And they are making it for their community for free, because hand sanitizers ran out. So, instead of making whisky and brandy for people to drink, they have decided to make hand sanitizers and are distributing it from house to house for free. And then people who like what they are doing, who believe that they are meeting a need, have decided to raise funds for them.
I can assure you, that business will turn a profit. Why? Because they are meeting a need. There is a need for people to sanitize their hands now. There is corona virus outbreak everywhere in the world. This happened in the United States. And they are making that product to meet that need, and people will respond with revenue flow. That is what makes a successful entrepreneur.
So, the average Nigerian must understand that the reason he is here in this world is not to be rich, or to make money. The reason you are here is to be useful. And add value to your society. But while you do that, there is almost a natural return in terms of resources.
- What are your top three rules for success?
I think the first rule for success is hard work. Hard and smart work. You must work hard and work smart. I believe the other rule is integrity. Because hard work will help you to know how to do something. Integrity will give you the opportunity to continue to do it. No matter how good you are at doing your job, if you do not do it with integrity, nobody will come back to you.
What makes people come back to somebody who can do a thing well is the integrity the person displays in doing that thing. And what is integrity? Integrity is saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Doing what you say you will do. Your words and your actions are consistent. So for me, the three top attributes you need to succeed is hard work, smart work and integrity.
- Any other advice for young people?
Keep your eyes on yourself. Forget about other people. Because I found that this generation is paying too much attention on other people. My friend just bought a car, my friend just got married, and we are mate and I am still single, my friend just got a big break, he has plenty money in his account and the rest of that.
The whole tragedy of people competing with other people is even made worse by social media, some guy just visit a place and he takes a picture of himself in that fine place and puts it on social media and someone sees it and says; “oh my God, for this guy to be standing in this beautiful place, he must be very successful now. Why am I still where I am?” So, there is a mixture of depression and anxiety.
I think in the midst of the noise, young people should take a step back and take a look at themselves. Focus on what you want to do! Get yourself a plan, set a goal and pursue it!
Such an amazing time with the Senior Special Adviser to the Edo State Government on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie.
Crusoe Osagie has been a Media Practitioner for over 20 years. He contributed to our Amazon best selling book, Power Content: Content Creation Made Easy for Personal and Business Growth, writing the foreward.
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