Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday night, at the InterContinental Hotel in Lagos, revealed how he started his business in 1971 by acquiring four pick-up vans under a hire-purchase agreement with SCOA.
Mr. Atiku who received the Honourary Achiever Award (African Outstanding Entrepreneur) at the Africa’s Youth Entrepreneurs Conference and Award titled “A Stand With The Giants,” dedicated the award to the Nigerian youths, urging them to have more drive towards entrepreneurship.
“I came to Lagos on June 29, 1969 and after my two years training (with the Nigeria Customs Service); I was posted to the border station of Idi-Iroko. At that time, the Badagry Road had not been constructed and the only means of transportation to the rest of the West African corridor was through the Idi-Iroko border to what used to be called Dahomey and what is now known as Benin Republic.
“On getting to Idi-Iroko, my first posting, I was not married and what I discovered was that the most promising business was transportation. Many pickup vans were transporting women traders from Ajase (Port Novo) to Lagos every morning, and every evening from Lagos back to Port Novo.
“So I asked myself, how I can seize the opportunity of this moving business. I came over to Lagos and in those days SCOA were the sole distributors of Peugeot, so I went to SCOA and I signed a hire-purchase agreement and bought four of those pickups and gave them to four different drivers and every day they will bring their returns to me and at the end of the month, I will go to SCOA and pay them.
“I wasn’t married, so my salary was intact and in addition I was saving from what I was getting from my transport business. So, sometime, to be an entrepreneur you must have the ingenuity to be an entrepreneur.”
According to Mr. Atiku, “the educational system we operated in the First Republic provided our students then the opportunity to either go to universities or go to technical colleges or to go to crafts schools. There was never a dropout in that kind of educational system. The dullest was trained on a skill and given the capital to start a business.”
The former Vice President however lamented that, “suddenly, Nigeria moved away from that to a system of education where you train only job seekers.”
He noted that the product of Nigeria’s current system of education does nothing else other than to produce graduates seeking for jobs, adding that they cannot employ themselves.
“So, what I am trying to say is that my Nigeria is possible and your own Nigeria is possible”, he said.
Mr. Atiku also paid tribute to Wizkid for his recent award, where he beat some of the greatest in the industry to clinch the Best International Act at the MOBO awards.
“Wizkid’s international award is a victory for Nigeria. Art is important not only for the revenue it brings and the business around it but for the image of our country. A good image has the capacity to trigger investments. The investments will generate much needed jobs. The jobs will not only ensure the security of families but the security of our nation and engender progress and development”, he said.