HONORING CHIEF AKINKUGBE
It must be both beautiful and trying to have siblings who are outstanding. When we wanted, at CVL, to stand on the shoulders of Chief Olu Akinkugbe to look at the future of manufacturing and celebrate the values that made him a key player in governance of several manufacturing enterprises, some members of the team were tasked with getting the ground work done.
Some young staff person not knowing that there was more than one accomplished Akinkugbe stumbled on the very distinguished Prof Akinkugbe bio data and thought the erudite Professor of medicine and educator who we hope to honor next year, was the subject of our decision.
Chief Olu Akinkugbe who we celebrate today has, in board play, witnessed the rise of manufacturing up to a point where it contributed nearly 13percent of GDP, and its fall, to today’s place of no more than three percent of GDP.
Could the boardrooms have saved manufacturing in Nigeria? Can the board rooms influence the effort to save manufacturing in Nigeria?
Kandeh Yumkellah, the immediate past Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was the UNIDO country representative in Nigeria for several years. While here he fought to get Nigerian policy makers to learn some lessons from their Asian counterparts. He was so passionate an advocate that in the first year of Patito’s Gang he was one of the regulars on the Gang.
In one of his efforts to inspire new thinking he arranged a policy visit to Malaysia. Among those on the tour were then Industries Minister Chief Kola Jamodu, Science and Technology Minister of State Pauline Tallen, Permanent Secretaries, the Senate and House committee Chairmen for Industry, Senator Fidelis Okoro and Hamisu Shira, and myself. One of the learning points from that trip was my long trumpeted view that it was all about competiveness and not remaining infant industries forever behind tariff barriers.
In that sense, one of my more enduring arguments is that we demarcate the country into zones of development based on factor endowments and plot the global value chain of endowments in each domain. This will include manufacturing points of the chain. Education and the curriculum at all levels should be aligned to skills required to be more competitive on the focus value chains.
The importance of endowments and competitiveness is evident in the fact that the manufacturing ventures that have survived the de-industrialization that hit Nigeria have been in such sectors in which Nigeria has strong endowments as the food and beverages sector.
Endowments assure greater competitiveness. That competitiveness can, however, be threatened by other factors like those that come up in the case of doing business surveys such as the world Bank group Private Sector Assessment (PSA). To reinvent manufacturing will therefore involve looking at factors that make doing business easier, from licenses, to infrastructure such as power, transport and water.
Manufacturing will surely profit from the idea of enclaves where concentration can allow for the provision of the entire infrastructure required for effectiveness within that industrial park. From government approvals to ease of distribution and quality of human capital available for employment the ability of manufacturing requires a variety of factors to be got right.
Governance can help firms on the right track because one of the duties of directors is to interpret the environment and help shape strategy.
In the same vain directors can constitute a pressure group to push policy in the direction that makes the environment more conducive for performance.
We must hold out more hope for manufacturing because it is between it and Agriculture that the bourgeoning population will find productive work.