Wednesday, 4 May 2016


In 2015 the Platform powered by Covenant Church held in Abuja at the NAF auditorium. Speakers like Bishop Hassan Kukah, Pius Adesanmi, Olusegun Adeniyi and others spoke. I watched a little bit of it on television.

This year I was fortunate to attend.


This theme could not have come at a better time considering the dwindling oil prices and the current hardship being experienced by Nigerians.

The International Conference Centre was filled to the capacity including the overflow. Many people who could not make it on time, sat outside and watched the programme on a large screen.

One thing anyone can give the organisers credit for was the smooth organisation of this programme. The speakers came with solutions and people are genuinely hungry for solutions to answer the question, what is the way out.

All the speakers were passionate and believed that Nigeria can make it even without oil. Dr. Ibukun Awosika almost broke down in tears as she recounted the unemployment crisis in the country. She noted that many of the youths had made inventions and were ready to venture into  entrepreneurship but unfortunately the structure was not helping them in maximising their potentials.

The Platform raised a lot of questions, highlighted existing challenges but luckily unlike other times when speeches were made without proffering any solutions, gave a lot of solutions on the way forward.

I was particularly interested in listening to Ali Baba Atunyota Akpobome maybe because I am also in the entertainment industry.

The First speaker who set the stage before Ali Baba came on stage made many cogent points;
·         Contrary to what we are told or think, the country did deliberately not move away from oil, oil  moved away from Nigeria.

·         Till date, Nigeria does not have the blueprint for diversification and was not even measuring progress.

·         Oil prices were still going to go further down as solar which is also abundant is being tapped to do many things oil has been doing.

·         Agriculture was not just supply of fertilizer.

·         Government must create the right policies and find alternatives to oil just like countries like Saudi Arabia had done.

·         Nigeria must not seek to produce everything since it would be impossible but identify viable areas where they have competitive advantages and focus on that.

·         Nigerians should move away from only just praying and get down to work because prayers cannot do the work.

Ali Baba was the next to speak. Ali is an international MC, Comedian and public speaker, who has won many awards and can be said to be the founder of modern comedian in Nigeria. The MC introduced him as one who was constantly upping his game. He specifically said, ‘Ali made the rules and broke them.’

From the way Ali spoke and the many prospects he identified in the industry, it was obvious that entertainment is one of those areas where like the first speaker said, we had competitive advantage. Why then was government playing a lip service to entertainment industry and why has the ordinary citizen not only identified this but untapped potentials in the entertainment industry in order to benefit from it?

This is a summary of what Ali Baba said.

·         All Nigeria had to do to replace oil was focus on its entertainment and tourism potentials.

·         The people in entertainment industry must continue to see the value in the industry and revolutionalise it for international acceptability. Tales by moonlight is akin to Lion King except that the latter used technology to develop its story to acceptable standard. We can do the same.

·         Packaging makes a lot of difference in the way we do our things.
     Government of the past and even of the present was yet to place the desired value on the entertainment industry.
       National Arts Theatre, Iganmu was not built by the military to develop the arts but as a way of laundering their image before the outside world.
      A survey carried out in Lagos showed that every week, Lagosians spent N4bn on parties. He mentioned the value chain in this.
     To maximize this sector, there was need for content creation.
         There are many areas that need to be fully developed to add value
Ø  museums
Ø  monumental sites like first residence of Lord Lugard
Ø  Statutes of important and historical figures
Ø  Homegrown game shows
Ø  Late night shows
Ø  Fashion
Ø  Event Centres
Ø  Revival of Record Companies and trained artiste managers
Ø  Alternative to DSTV that will sell our story and make us remember our history
Ø  Revival of railways
Ø  More and dynamic Festivals
Ø  Development of water ways for boat cruises

Ali Baba wanted Nigerians to realise that oil was dead no matter how hard it is for us to comprehend it. Nigeria has the human resources, the products (local content) that will make us tell our story the way it should be.

He insisted that Government had a huge role to play in growing this industry by putting in place policies that can assist. They must start by treating piracy as a criminal offence. Government should set up a special court just like it has done for corruption, 419 and the like to take care of piracy. This was because until the issue of piracy was dealt with, Nigeria will not make ahead way in entertainment industry.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili spoke next on the state of the economy and advised government to review its economic policies to cause it to be in tune with modern times in order to achieve results.

Dr. Awosika who spoke after Dr. Oby Ezekwesili is a renowned public speaker and Chairman of First Bank. She is a huge fan of entrepreneurship. She spoke on small and medium scale industries.

According to her;
·         Nigeria is work in progress

·         Nigerians have been engaged in entrepreneurship for a long time now

·   Government has a role in creating a favourable environment to enable people express their creativity/entrepreneurship.

·         There is opportunity for everyone to create value in the value chain.

·         The world is experiencing employment issues and Nigeria is not alone.

·         Employment will get worse because companies are rightly shedding weight to survive, technology was replacing a lot of things humans did before. Globally, more researches are ongoing on how to develop more machines that will be more efficient than humans.

·     The way forward out of our dilemma is entrepreneurship as small and medium scale industries can absorb a lot of the unemployed.

·         Businesses are started and jobs created by human beings like us. People must learn to use their natural abilities to create value in the society.

·        There is urgent need to revisit the curriculum and make provision for entrepreneurship. A course that can unleash the mind to think up great ideas.

·      Financing is a challenge government must find a way to tackle. There are small and medium scale industries that do not need huge capital. Monies deducted from banks and companies by the government can be used for this purpose.

·       Government must remove policies that are highly unfavourable example Form M should not be for everyone and every company.

Finally, she warned that not all businesses will succeed; some will fail. However like the common saying, you do not throw away the baby with the bath water, this fact would not deter anyone or the government from finding ways to assist small and medium scale industries financially.

Finally, her advice to government to provide money for entrepreneurship development just as it is doing for roads, schools and other social services because entrepreneurship was a societal need was very apt!

By the end of the day when other speakers spoke including the Vice-President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, it was obvious Nigeria was never going to be same again in terms of looking for alternative sources to oil.

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