By Rukayat Adeyemi
Lagos – Mr Tony Elumelu, the Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, on Thursday urged governments at all levels to create the enabling environment for the young generation to succeed in entrepreneurship.
Elumelu said this at the 1st Distinguished Lecture of the Lagos State University (LASU) with the theme “Entrepreneurship: The Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria’s Future Leaders”.
He said that the biggest form of freedom and independence for future leaders was to create an environment that enables ideas to thrive and succeed among youths.
“A lot of work needs to be done in Nigeria to stop over-dependence on developed countries and this could be done by encouraging self-reliance and entrepreneurship.
“For a country like Nigeria that produces oil and with lots of other natural endowments, the present fall in oil price is not supposed to affect its economy.
“Even in a difficult environment as it is today, a difference can be made by successful entrepreneurs who tend to create employment opportunities for others.’’
Elumelu said that efforts and support by the government and other institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) and philanthropists to young entrepreneurs would go a long way in developing Nigeria and Africa at large.
He noted that the borrowing policy and interest rates of banks also needed to be reviewed to benefit young entrepreneurs and business operators.
“What value is the money in a bank account if we cannot use it in a manner that creates maximum support for our people?”
The Chairman, however, advised aspiring entrepreneurs to continue to work hard.
“Be disciplined; make sacrifices; dream to convert opportunities to action and be hungry for your ambition,’’ he said.
Elumelu also urged them to be resilient, humble, prudent and imbibe a savings culture.
“Nosing for opportunity, foresight and taking position is also important for young entrepreneurs; so that when the opportunity crystallises, you can immediately harness it before others overtake you.’’
While promising to collaborate with LASU toward assisting its undergraduates, Elumelu said he would to continue to render support to the young generation through his foundation.
Meanwhile, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, represented by Mrs Toyin Adejumoke, in his address, said the state government acknowledged the role played by entrepreneurs in making the state prosperous.
Ambode said that the state government, through various programmes and scholarship, would continue to empower youths.
He advised youths to take maximum advantage of all available platforms developed by the government to make them self-relianct and employers of labour, to reduce unemployment and the poverty level.
The Deputy Governor, Mrs Idiat Adebule, represented by Mrs Yetunde Adejare, Permanent Secretary in her office, lauded LASU for organising such innovative and informative programme.
Adebule said the university was meeting up to the expectations of the government by organising programmes that would help harness the potential of youths as well as address the challenges of unemployment.
She said that the youths needed to be encouraged productively and empowered to make them useful to themselves and the nation at large.
She further advised Nigerian youths to embrace technical, vocational and entrepreneurial skills in oder to become self-employed and employers of labour.
In his address, the Chancellor of the university, Justice Adetola Oguntade, said the lecture would provide LASU and the society with variety of ideas that would trigger significant development.
Oguntade noted that the topic of the lecture was of great essence to mentor future leaders and steer the wheel of transformation in the country.
LASU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, called for collaboration between the institution and UBA in its global activities.
Fagbohun also urged the organisers to sustain the programme as it would enable the students to deepen their study self-reliance and enable them to discover potential.