and gave insightful and thought provoking reasons why he should step out and contest for the gubernatorial seat of Akwa Ibom State. Read Excerpts.
My name is Itoro Okon the CEO of fresh care system limited and chairman AUSafrik Ghana limited , a graduate of material Science and Engineering. I also hold a Diploma in Information Technology from Africa college Accra. I am the Team Lead, TeamONE .
What is Team one all about?
It is an SME and Industrialization Oriented Advocacy Group.
Compare the business climate in Nigeria, Akwa Ibom as a case study with Ghana.
The challenges we have had as a business unit in Nigerian is in the bureaucratic system, the one here is more complicated. Business in Ghana has peculiar challenges and the one in Nigeria has its own challenges. We have been able to adapt to it.
Before this time much concerns was not given to entrepreneurs, mostly the small and medium scale drivers didn’t have much attention from the government. Recently the federal government has through CBN made available 220billion naira to be shared among the states and also formulated policies which will enable easy access to these funds by small and medium scale enterprises. That is a good start. It is a conscious effort by the government to encourage entrepreneurship and industrialization.
How beneficial is the YOU WIN programme to your company?
We haven’t enrolled on that programme because we have grown beyond the start-up phase which this platform seeks to assist. Generally, it is encouraging youth participation in entrepreneurship.
What do you think about the Akpabio led government of Akwa Ibom state on Small and medium scale enterprises?
I believe that every government has its priorities. For Akpabio’s government, his focus has been on infrastructural development and brand awareness of Akwa Ibom being that desired emerging market. These are necessary pre-industrialization structures that will aid industrialization and entrepreneurship. This administration is also commissioning some cottage industries before the end of its tenure. For me, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio has created an enabling ground that ushers the state into an era of small and medium enterprise empowerment and industrialization. So we believe that the next government should take it from here.
Are you into politics?
We are all political animals. Entrepreneurs and businessmen should not completely separate themselves from the leadership selection process. government formulates policies and businesses strive on these policies. There is need for a government that will enact favorable policies that will encourage enterprises and provide a favorable ground for operations. Every businessman, especially the young and aspiring entrepreneurs should participate in the leadership selection process because it is very critical to whether a business survives or not. For us at Team ONE, we are advocating for a government that prioritizes entrepreneurship support and industrialization which will bring about massive job employment. This will aid political stability and self reliance.
What kind of Governor do you expect to succeed Gov Godswill Akpabio so that he could look at that business area that was not yet considered?
The challenges of 2007 to 2015 has been enormous, we can all agree that within these period we have had a dynamic leader. Chief Godswill Akpabio is a youthful leader; he has been able to surmount many of these challenges. the next years gets more complex and demanding, there is a greater level of responsibility. the Akwa Ibom man is concerned about who takes over baton from a leader who has lived up to the responsibilities of leading a people. there are some indices we need to look out for in the next era leader. we should evaluate aspirations based on aspirants exposure, experience, capacity, acceptability and vigor to lead the era of industrialization in Akwa Ibom State . We must look at a mind who has the pedigree to move Akwa Ibom beyond Oil. We need a leader who understands the challenges of the unemployed youth populace, the burden of the rural dwellers and the expectations of the political class of Akwa Ibom State. We need a bridge that can connect the old generation to the new school. Akwa Ibom needs a leader who considers the professionals and the political class as indispensable tools for nation building.
Industrialization and SMEs empowerment are processes and it can only be manned by minds who have practically done well and have been prepared for the time and era approaching. Every Akwa Ibom son and daughter expects four years of wealth creation and consolidation on the gains of Chief Godswill Akpabio’s led uncommon transformation era.
Of all the roll call of guber aspirants, who do you think possesses these criteria?
Let me give you a background, I believe in the capacity and experience. A successful entrepreneur best fits into this background. An entrepreneur has the experiences and the fortification or capacity to drive an industrialization era. Looking at the previous eras of His Excellency Obong Victor Attah and the era of Chief Godswill Akpabio which is driving to a halt by next year, we can all bear witnesses to the fact that capacity and experience has influenced their leadership style. For example before now every person who used to call me a Calabar boy now call me an Akwa Ibom boy because of the leadership style of the present administration. That alone is an achievement that is second to none.
So if you are looking for an era of industrialization and SME which the next few years represents, give the baton to a successful businessman. Team ONE supports a man who can will not only be a Governor but a mentor to aspiring enterprising Akwa Ibom sons and daughters. Sir Nsima Ekere fits these descriptions. We have evaluated aspirations considering the responsibilities of governance ahead and deemed Sir Nsima ekere a proper fit for governorship seat of our great state, akwa ibom from 2015. And this is his era, we are urging him to rise to the occasion. Akwa Ibom state needs his service as the Executive Governor.
So you think Nsima Ekere gives everybody that comes across him the ability to build and maintain capacity towards making such self reliant?
Obong Nsima Ekere is a man who is successful, both in private practice and public service for more than two decades, he possesses the capacity to impact knowledge and also to create policies that will encourage entrepreneurship and self reliance.
Why are youths interested in politics more than business?
I think the problem is survival. Man must be able to meet his everyday needs before he thinks of innovating and creating platforms for other people. In a system where SME support and job opportunities are limited, politics presents itself as the broadest. This situation only encourages youths to turn to politics, their energy is being channeled to a lot of negative vices; you cannot blame them for wanting to survive. What we should do collectively is to distract these youths positively by creating entrepreneurship support systems and job employment opportunities through industrialization. this will get our youths profitably. This can be achieved if we have a government that places priority on self reliance. Sir Nsima Ekere has the capacity to lead this process. Obong Nsima Ekere has been built by capacity and experience as an entrepreneur who is the driving force behind Ekere and Associates Limited,a major player in Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector.
Advise for youths who run into politics
A man should be in charge of his destiny because we were all created for a purpose. I believe also that challenges are not meant to kill us but to aid us in self discovery. I believe that life is not just about survival. Most importantly, as the electioneering period approaches, we should shun violence and embrace an issue-oriented approach to selecting our new crop of leaders. Let’s leave what seems satisfactory today for an impactful life. You could be a plumber, banker, fashion designer and you can still be successful at what you are doing if you are committed to it. Akwa Ibom youths, if we are truly yearning for the consolidation on Chief Godswil Akpabio’s uncommon transformation administration, employment opportunities and wealth creation then NSIMA EKERE is the ANSWER.