Convener of Worldstage Group, Segun Adeleye charged Nigerians and business owners to imbibe innovation for economic development. According to him, diversification into non-oil sectors may not be enough to sustain the nation’s economic development without adapting new ways of doing things. In his words, “Nigeria is projected to be the third most populous country behind India and China by 2050, any diversification now without innovation by businesses and government may be tantamount to running on the same spot.”
Presenting his introductory address at the summit, Adeleye explained that the theme ‘”Transforming Business and Economy Through Innovation” was inspired through new thinking and innovation. He stressed further that “The reality today is that we have an economy where the majority is disenfranchised and trapped in irrelevance. Yet we are at a time in history of information explosion when nothing is hidden about where countries are and where they want to be in the future. While we are still lamenting the lost opportunity to have developed with our oil wealth in the past, we can see the future unfolding before us, just as how the internal combustion engine is projected to die and the oil business, the mainstay of our economy is to become obsolete in the very near future.”
Adeleye opined that “If we all know the shape the future is taking, we as a nation cannot afford to be stranded with costly obsolete technology or waste valuable time before changing direction, unless we want to remain the dump site of the future.” He added that “With the calls for Nigeria to diversify its economy from oil after several missed opportunities in six decades, the new question begging for answer, is how fast and far can diversification solve economic problems in the short, medium and long terms?”
He noted that the country should not make the mistake that since its ruling class are educated and well-travelled, they will be conversant with recent trends across the globe and pursue the right policies in infrastructure development, education, smart grid, clean energy among others, “sometimes, we have to question our sensitivity, sanity and care for fellow human beings and our country.”
Adeleye is of the view that so much have been orchestrated about the support for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from federal to local government level, yet in reality they don’t exist. “I will pulse for you to sear your mind for few seconds; where are the so much talked about SMEs that are supposed to be creating millions of job? I personally believe that policies to support entrepreneurs should be such that anyone that has made an attempt at doing anything at all rather than roaming the streets looking for unexciting jobs must get one form of support from the government or the established businesses in the private sector,” he added.
Adeleye emphasized that “The private sector is as culpable as the government. You know our big corporate businesses have insatiable appetite for foreign products and services and if they must patronize the small local ones at all, they will offer to pay ridiculous prices that they cannot get anywhere in the world. Beggars have no choice. It’s either they take it or die. With this corporate terrorism, it’s not surprising that we have hardly seen any small enterprise that survived and grow in our country like the inspiring cases of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Tweeter and recently Uber in the United States.
He is of the view that Nigeria holds it as a duty to voice out until stakeholders will heed the country’s cry and concern, “we don’t have any other choice anyway, because it’s about our wellbeing as a people, it’s about our survival, and it’s about the future of our children.”
The summit was climaxed with awards in recognition of outstanding contributions to economic growth in the current year. The awards featured the Nigerian Development Best Bank of the Year, Nigerian Airport of the Year, Nigerian TV Station of the Year, Nigerian Public Institution of the Year among many others. The winners emerged from compilation of responses through questionnaires by stakeholders while award for only one outstanding institution or individual per sector of the economy was presented after the panel discussion.