The Tiv Nation must build its crop of entrepreneurial class and support entrepreneurship. - Pharm. Peter Chieshe.

By Flourish Tarkaa Shidoo

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to illustrious, well traversed and well learned sons and daughter of tiv nation and Benue state,present thought provoking papers on the way forward in Tiv land at the just concluded, All Tiv Summit by OnTiv professionals Association Abuja. One paper that really caught my attention and I think needs special consideration in our present day situation is a paper presented by a farmer, entrepreneur, pharmacist,industrialist and CEO Newland Mills Ltd,Peter Chieshe on ''Entrepreneurship as a viable tool for development ''.

The tiv nation and indeed Benue State has of recent been plagued by an economic situation that can best be described as dismal,with dependence solely on allocation from the federal government and with the dwindling oil wealth even the government at the center believes that 'looking inwards ' is the way to go. For me this paper is not just timely, it is very important. Here are excerpts from the paper;

"The Tiv nation is in dire economic straits and suffers a political marginalization that gnaws away at the very foundations of our collective prosperity, well- being, and our economic and political power infrastructure. We do not have the luxury of indulging ourselves in the traditional superfluous chatter sessions that revel in the emptiness of a mere talk shop. A talk shop vanity that heaps vast academic knowledge- upon knowledge isn't why many have sacrificed to be here. There already exist, a superfluity of such academic knowledge un-utilized regarding this topic in our Ivory tower. So I defer to the Professors of the Ivory Tower present here. I shall in this paper concentrate of the practical aspects of entrepreneurship as a viable tool for development".

''What we need now most is an Agenda and a carefully- thought - out strategy for a results- oriented practical application of the power of entrepreneurship to circumvent the quagmire of Abuja Allocations dependency, so as to bring development to our people on a sustainable basis. Ours is the sad tragedy of a marginalized people; a Tiv nation beset by a myriad of denigrating circumstances including: mass poverty; a divided political leadership; a sidelined people; a people without representation in Mr. President's Executive Cabinet; a people without economic muscle or political power; a people without an Agenda within the federating units of Nigeria - even as the wind of restructuring blows across the nation!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the sad tragedy confronting the Tiv nation, is about a people whose Lives waste away due to an economic- dependency syndrome! A dependency on the centre! A Federal government centre that has no place for us in the economic and political power sharing structure. The Tiv nation was once known as a people of valor , integrity and industry ( read hard work and virtue)".

Today, in the emerging Nigeria, We are caught up in a self- defeating web of economic and political emasculation and marginalization. Why?

A Weak and Dependent Tiv Nation. We are a weak and pauperized people who are so depend on our governments. Mass poverty is fast ravaging the local population. The Tiv people are unable to afford and enjoy good quality life in the new Nigerian economy premised on the Naira and economic power of the people. Privatization of the nation's business entities has seen the sale of government businesses to private hands with new private ownership springing from the North (Hausa/

Fulani), the South West (Yoruba) the East (Igbo) and South East ( Niger Delta minorities). Nigeria’s Wealth in Private Hands as the Tiv Nation is Locked Out. The Effect?

The once national wealth that created the jobs for shared prosperity have been transferred to private hands and ownership outside the reach of our people. It is unheard of and an unpardonable constitutional breach and iniquity that, the Presidential Villa and Mr. President's Cabinet has no space for one of our own! How can we be heard! Where is our representation in the Presidential Villa? How can succor come our way?

Kleptocracy and Years of ‘Locust’ Invasion. Both the Tiv people and their governments groan under the pangs of this galling yoke of poverty and lack, which is caused by an ugly combination of past years of sleaze, years of ignoble Kleptocracy; years of " a locust invasion" on the State Treasury; and the years of an endemic culture of organized corruption that siphons off the dwindling monthly allocations from the Federation Account.

Mass Poverty – an Embarrassing Paradox. Yet, this mass poverty stands out as an embarrassing paradox. Embarrassing paradox because, it coexists amidst great natural resource endowments and stupendous natural wealth unexploited, unharnessed, unmapped and underdeveloped. We are so endowed, so rich, yet so poor!

Entrepreneurship: The Way Out for the Tiv Nation. Entrepreneurship exploits such natural resource endowments to create wealth, jobs, food security, development and grassroots prosperity that gives meaning to life"

...."Wherever, we are, we are a people who are so dependent on their government. And sadly, our governments too are in turn so dependent on the dwindling monthly allocations from the Federating Account! That's the double jeopardy. This sad tragedy rehash is the lot and sorry state of our people- the Tiv people. We are a Blind people- a people blind to their natural prowess, blind to their innate abilities, valor, virtue, industry and stupendous natural resource endowments. These are resources which if properly harnessed, can bring untold prosperity to the land and transform the fortunes of the people - much to the envy of other ethnic nationalities.

Unquestionably we suffer severe limiting circumstances and constraints to our development as a people. We'd faced the limitations of absence of a selfless, forward- thinking, committed and visionary leadership to chart the way forward. Our political history has been more of politics of acrimony and annihilation rather than politics of development and people empowerment.

Our political leadership and follower-ship, has been more engrossed in a mutually- assured self- destruct, which is the national ridicule that has befallen us as a people. Engineered disunity has further exercabated and preyed upon this vice which operates amongst our people and leadership. This review shows us the bad and ugly side"

...."It has been the strategic achievement of rich nations over the last several hundred years to create a high-quality manufacturing sector in order to develop national wealth and power. From the rise of England in the 19th century, to the rise of the US, Germany, Japan and the USSR in the 20th, to the newly industrializing countries like Korea, Taiwan, and now China, manufacturing has been the key to prosperity".

..."Ladies and Gentlemen. You have all seen the mess we are in. The Tiv nation has abandoned its true source of wealth and prosperity. We have developed a history and embarrassing culture of dependence. We depend on our governments and Governments in turn depend upon the monthly allocations in the Federation Account. These allocations are premised on the fortunes of the global oil economy. With plummeting oil revenues, allocations coming to the state government have dwindled. The government is broke and the people suffer mass poverty.

This means we must look inwards and reset our economic development compass. We must undergo structural economic transformation, develop entrepreneurship and pursue light manufacturing. This transformation involves lifting workers from lowproductivity agriculture and informal sectors into higher productivity sectors such as provided by light manufacturing. The interesting thing is that, light manufacturing is a labour-intensive business activity for which we enjoy latent comparative advantages of abundant low-wage labour and natural resources. All these draw the power of entrepreneurship to harness our natural resource endowment to create wealth, jobs products and grassroots prosperity for the people. However, to achieve this, our government must take the lead interventionist position to act as a Facilitating government. Now, as a Facilitating Government, it will move to remove the constraints to light manufacturing.

The government will play the role of a Catalyst and Enabler to create a business-friendly operating atmosphere for entrepreneurship to thrive. A Facilitating state helps its private sector to exploit the natural resources of the state to create wealth, jobs, products and grassroots prosperity. Building a strong economy that is independent of the Centre of the Federal Government of Nigeria remains the pathway to our prosperity. This necessitates building a dynamic private sector entrepreneurial class that will take on light manufacturing, agro industry and the entire agricultural value chain where we enjoy decisive comparative advantages of abundant natural resource endowment and lowwage/labour costs. The Tiv nation is a prosperous nation. Our current poverty status is false. It does not speak favourably and truthfully concerning our latent potentials based on our natural resource endowments".

What we need to do for ourselves now to avoid regrets in future is to embrace the idea of entrepreneurship, a role that will also require the help of our leaders to develop our local industries and encourage private investors to tap into the abundant natural and human resources we have in Benue and now is the time to start!!

PS: For full text of the paper,"Entrepreneurship as a viable tool for national development " by Pharm. Peter Chieshe, please contact me in-box.

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