Why President Buhari Must Succeed – By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me confirm what you already know; I’m an absolute supporter of
President Muhammadu Buhari despite being one of his most vociferous critics in the past.
Dele Momodu
The reasons are very simple and I shall try to enumerate them one by one. Though I wanted a young and vibrant President, and did present myself once upon a time, I’ve since realised that even the young voters can’t readily identify who they want and what they need to do to have him when they see one. Two, our younger leaders have not demonstrated their seriousness and passion for developmental goals over and above the older generation. Three, President Buhari has what most people lack and that is integrity. Four, the former ruling party, PDP, left us with no option as they went on a reckless binge at the expense of the nation.
As I told two newspaper publishers earlier in the week, my interest in President Buhari has become a religion and indeed an article of Faith. By fire and by force, he must succeed. For me and my house, failure is not on our plate.
I consider myself a humble stakeholder in this Presidency and I’m ready to give it all it takes from my little corner. That does not require me to be in his government. We can all contribute our quota. I will not deny him like Peter denied Jesus.
Many of our opponents during the last elections are already teasing and taunting us and threatening Buhari’s government with impending doom and unmitigated disaster.
They are quick to write him off instead of seeing themselves first as Nigerians and telling the President what he should be doing that he is not and so on.
The road ahead is long and rough and would be tough to navigate but the people’s General must keep marching and pushing because the world is watching and waiting with bated breath. Will Buhari fail or succeed and break the jinx of monumental failure in leadership and governance in Nigeria? In order to make the difference our President must take certain steps.
I will mention a few. He should skilfully avoid the professional power-grabbers who are
experts at misleading most leaders. As broke as Nigeria seems at the moment we are still a wealthy nation. Our riches are from human and natural resources. We are a lucky country stupendously blessed by God. The biggest trouble is our unquenchable profligacy.
We waste too much on very few. We need to be more visibly austere. Our 2016 budget should be an embarrassment to a Government that professes change. We are going to borrow money to fund extravagant spending. As usual, we want to maintain the status quo by practising capitalism without capital.
President Buhari should not dismiss the harsh criticisms of major international media
organisations as the handiwork of his enemies. He should read, digest and consider the merits of their anxieties over Nigeria. Some government agents are already behaving like the neurotic disciples of former President Goodluck Jonathan who in their abject paranoia abused and accused anyone who dared to say their government was on its way to perdition. The Buhari government must realise that the best way to punish an enemy is by succeeding. The Financial Times, Bloomberg and The Economist can’t all be wrong at once. We hailed all these publications when they wrote off the Jonathan administration which eventually came to pass. It is sad we are wasting scarce resources in advertising in those journals instead of tidying up at home and harnessing our huge potentials.
The period of campaigning is gone and we should stop engaging in unnecessary propaganda. What is good would be seen by those who have eyes and felt even by those who have none.
There is nothing new that we’ve not done to woo investors in the past. What we need to do is to create a new nation and a new way of doing things. We don’t need to sweat so much if we do the right things. In those circumstances we won’t see enemies where none exist.
Let’s get on with the job, get it done and stop the blame game.
The Chairman of United Bank of Africa, Mr Tony Elumelu, made extraordinary impact
last year as he selected and assembled thousands of budding entrepreneurs from all
over Africa.
Since then, he’s been receiving thunderous applause for his great vision and
the passion to lift up many Africans from the depths of poverty.
The latest eulogy comes from no less a personage than Penny Pritzker, the US Secretary
of Commerce. I’m delighted to publish such a massive tribute on a great son of Africa
who deserves a resounding ovation…
“Congratulations on the launch of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. Tony has been one of our foremost team players in supporting entrepreneurs, particularly here on the African continent. I am so grateful for the leadership and creativity that he has brought into the many initiatives on which we have worked together, including most recently, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya.
Tony, thanks to your vision and extraordinary generosity, many young African entrepreneurs across the continent – like the ones here today – will have access to the
mentorship, training and support they need to build the businesses they dream of. They will be the leading edge of Africa’s next wave of economic growth. Supporting entrepreneurs across Africa, and indeed around the world, is a top priority for President Obama. He recognizes, as I do, that opportunity for business creators to thrive around the world is the foundation for a rising middle class, for security and stability, and for broad-based prosperity.
I am proud to lead the Administration’s effort to support and empower aspiring entrepreneurs, both in the United States and across the globe. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” my Department connects the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the networks, mentors
and investors they need to make their businesses successful. Our initiatives and programs include our annual Global Entrepreneurship Summits, held most recently in Kenya, where we convene entrepreneurs with investors and other key figures in their constellation of support. Another example is Our Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship initiative, known as Page. President Obama asked me to chair the initiative where we work with celebrated business creators like Daymond John to harness their energy, ideas and experience to help develop young entrepreneurs. I am always inspired by the entrepreneurs I meet during my travels throughout this continent. A year and a half ago, in Ghana, I met Eyram Tawia and Wesley Kirinya, two young men who are creating mobile video games with storylines and characters re-imagined as superheroes from African folklore. In a continent where more people use data enabled mobile phones than computers, they have been enormously successful.
And last July at the GES Summit in Kenya, I met Jehil Oliver, an American entrepreneur who grew up in the States but has made Nigeria his business base and his home. He created HelloTractor, a startup that makes smart, low-cost tractors available for small farmers like an “Uber” taxi service. This has been a cost-cutting breakthrough for many of Nigeria’s small farmers, and the market potential is huge. There are 35 million of them!
I am delighted to visit Nigeria on behalf of President Obama, who has long appreciated that Africa being home to many of the 21st century’s fastest growing
economies means there are enormous mutually beneficial opportunities for us to explore. President Obama believes, as I do, that the American private sector, working in partnership with the African business community, and entrepreneurs like all of you, can help address many of the continent’s most pressing challenges, including creating jobs and opportunity for young people across the continent.
Recognizing the enormous, long-term potential of enhanced private sector cooperation, the President directed me to establish the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) to deepen our commercial ties across Africa.
In support of that mission, this delegation of carefully chosen business leaders has come to Nigeria to listen, to engage, and to gather facts. We are not here to close particular business deals but to report back to the President with strong and actionable recommendations that will
benefit both our countries by raising our commercial relationship to the next level.
Of the many countries aspiring to lead Africa into a more prosperous future, Nigeria is the undisputed rising star. It recently surpassed South Africa as Africa’s biggest economy. And it is widely projected to grow into one of the top-10 global economies with a top-four population by the year 2050.
As Africa’s largest and fastest growing economy, Nigeria’s potential is huge. But with
President Buhari’s election and the changing nature of global oil markets, this
is a genuine moment of truth for the nation. President Buhari has assembled a capable and experienced economic team that is committed to making sure Nigeria remains “open for business.” And we are encouraged by his commitment to create a diversified economy and business friendly environment in Nigeria that enables Nigerian companies to grow and thrive, while also attracting foreign investment.
Reforms to the business climate are welcome in a nation, which, while boasting the largest
economy and population in Sub-Saharan Africa, has not yet reached its potential. And
American companies stand ready to be partners moving forward. We are here because
we believe we can do more together.
Accordingly, the PAC-DBIA has focused its efforts around key sectors where we think the
greatest potential lies for creating jobs in both Africa – especially Nigeria – and the United
States. Those sectors, which include power, services, ICT, transportation, agriculture and health care, are the ones in which members of the PAC-DBIA have deep expertise. They will be looking for ways to expand our commercial ties by reviewing with American and Nigerian business leaders what works and does not work, and share their observations with the Nigerian government and President Obama.
In our meetings and conversations, we will also be discussing how entrepreneurs – like you – can be even more successful through partnerships and business opportunities with other entrepreneurs and companies in the United
States. We recognize that few players are more pivotal to Nigeria’s economic growth – or will benefit more from government-led reforms – than entrepreneurs like you.
President Obama put it very well at the Kenya GES Summit when he said –and I quote:
“Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services,
new ways of seeing the world. It’s the spark of prosperity.”
As entrepreneurs who have already started businesses, you have already experienced that
spark. But now you know how hard it is to keep that fire going.
You know the challenges of growing and maintaining your businesses. You have seen how hard it can be to access capital – or to get training and the skills to run a business
professionally and be competitive. You may have encountered problems trying to
find networks to join, or meeting mentors whose advice could be the difference
between your venture taking off or falling flat.
The PAC-DBIA members are here to listen to those experiences and hear your thoughts on the business climate in Nigeria, and what the U.S. government and American companies can do to support you. It is important to them to get a sense of the challenges faced by
entrepreneurs, not only across the Nigerian economy but the region. These sessions will be very much a two-way street, in terms of mutual benefit! As we move to these breakout discussions, please consider them a unique opportunity to test out your ideas, to ask strategic questions, and to build relationships. All of these elements are key to the success of any entrepreneur – and the future of your businesses.
I know that we do not have much time, so please do not be shy. Pin these business
leaders down. Get their advice. Pitch them your idea. Above all, do not be discouraged if
they say, “I’m not sure that is going to work,” and they ask you very tough follow-
up questions. They will ask you because every one of these business
leaders has experienced setbacks as well as successes. What makes them successful is that they learned from them. Before I moderate today’s panel, I want to invite all of you to join us on “The Road to GES,” which leads all the way to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit this summer in Silicon Valley. I am proud that this “Road to GES” goes through Lagos, and I hope some of you will apply to participate in the Silicon Valley Summit. You can find the applications on the web at www.GES2016.org.
But whether you apply or not, I want to wish you the best of luck with your businesses. And I hope you will benefit from the sessions you have today – and the contacts you can develop.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation once again to Tony – who recognizes the
importance of taking the long view, and of planting seeds. He is helping economies
grow across Africa by investing in the people who will make them grow – entrepreneurs like the people in this room.
Thank you, Tony. And to all the entrepreneurs, let me say: Keep growing, keep expandingand keep connecting!
Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker to Nigerian Entrepreneurs and U.S. Business Leaders at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Event on January 25, 2016 in Lagos
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