WELCOME ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE MAIDEN KOGI STATE MSME DAY HELD IN COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL MSME DAY 2022 AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE, LOKOJA ON WEDNESDAY 29TH JUNE, 2022
I am pleased to attend this event and I heartily welcome all participants. It is particularly gratifying to see us participate for the first time as a State in this annual International MSME showcase. According to the United Nations concept paper on the 2022 Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day, MSMEs account for 90% of businesses, 60 to 70% of employment and 50% of GDP worldwide’.
Thus, MSME GROWTH: A STRATEGIC TOOL FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT’ as the theme of today’s event properly reflects the true importance of this sector. MSMEs are the backbone of societies everywhere. They contribute to local and national economies and help to sustain livelihoods, especially for the poor, women, youth, and other vulnerable groups.
When I took Office as the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State in January 2016, Kogi State did not have much of an MSME ecosystem or hub to speak of, much less a dedicated agency like KEDA to coordinate and cater for their immediate and long-term needs.
Moreover, Kogi State needed to find an outlet through which we can gainfully engage and empower our teeming youthful population. Given that MSMEs are the major drivers of economic growth, especially in non-industrialised and developing societies, I made it one of my preoccupations to create an agency through which we could encourage entrepreneurship and ultimately build a thriving MSME hub in our State.
This is why the fourth, out of the five, key thematic areas of our New Direction Blueprint is Youth Engagement and New Venture Creation. We worked tirelessly with the legislative arm of our Government to create for KEDA what I consider one of the most forward-looking and adaptable laws in the MSME sector within the country.
For far too long, our people have depended on Government as the main driver of the economy. This is why our workforce is over-bloated and Government is overloaded with catering for the salaries, pensions, gratuities and other entitlements of over 80,000 workers in the Civil Service, both State and Local Governments. The sad thing is that we would need to deploy over 80% of gross Government income each month to pay this number of persons, yet they constitute less that 1.8% of our population of 4.5m people. This is both unsustainable and unwise.
In order to lessen the burden of reliance on Government to provide livelihoods and wages for the people, we must quickly dissipate the mist of ‘civil service state’ draped over the hopes and aspirations of our people. Of course, the quickest way, and frankly the only feasible way, to go in achieving this is through Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation, primarily MSMEs.
We pursued this course because we recognized that the growth of Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation will broaden the spectrum of opportunities available to every Kogite who is willing to work hard to become financially independent. Today, we are here to collectively bear witness to how far we have come in growing entrepreneurial interest in our people.
No matter how willing we are and how hard we work, we cannot absorb more than 10,000 new workers into Government service in any two terms, irrespective of how many retire from service. However, with a bit of innovativeness and lots of hard work, we can create 500,000 new MSME businesses in the same timeframe.
I intend to substantially achieve this before I exit the stage as Governor of Kogi State – primarily through the work of KEDA but also through the activities of our other Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
It is still early days yet, but I am really proud of Hajiya Rakiya Onaivo Sanni and her team at the Kogi Enterprise Development Agency (KEDA). They have done so much with so little. Still, I have highlighted the above because I need them to understand that KEDA’s core mandate is crucial to the next generation of wealth creation and economic growth we want to see in our state.
Entrepreneurship and enterprise development can be taught and learned, and not always in a formal school setting. Our Igbo brothers have amply demonstrated this with their various apprenticeship schemes. KEDA is charged with designing innovative ways of getting interested Kogites into MSMEs in a profitable manner and I expect it to put more effort into this.
Training and equipping business-oriented Kogites to engage successfully in the start up and growth of their own businesses will require us to enhance their knowledge base. It will require us to make capital available, improve overall ease of doing business in Kogi State and make sure the operating environment within the State is free of disincentives such as insecurity.
I am glad to note that we have been able to do all of this to appreciable extents, but from now, we will take things to the next level. KEDA must also improve the pace of her activities and ensure a huge leap in MSME penetration in Kogi State. You are to bring existing businesses and Government to a collaboration in training and equipping new entrepreneurs and facilitating new enterprise.
We are to strengthen the capacities of our people, especially our Youth and Women to build viable businesses spread across every sector possible. Let us develop businesses in emerging technologies, in the Information and Communications Technology industry, in specialized small scale consultancies as well as the traditional market areas and business interests.
I thank all our partners, the Trade unions, Financial Institutions, Corporate bodies, development partners, mentor and donor agencies, Embassies, the Federal Government and her MDAs, Non Governmental Organisations, among others. We will need your ongoing cooperation to keep growing our MSME sector till it becomes the self-sustaining live wire of our economy.
I salute our MSMEs and the remarkable men and women who own and run them. You are already champions for taking the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. You are vital to our economic wellbeing and we shall continue to work to improve your chances of success and wealth-making from your legitimate business engagements.
Once again, I welcome you all to this event. Be sure to participate fully in all the sessions as there will be plenty to learn and lots of vital takeaways for your journey as a business owner.
Thank you for listening.
Governor of Kogi State