A foreword to Jobseeker to Entrepreneur: How Career-focused Education Can Multiply Businesses and Inspire Leaders written by Aniebo Nwamu
By SULEIMAN YAHYAH*
When my friend for 15 years, Aniebo Nwamu, informed me of his upcoming book on entrepreneurship and requested that I read the manuscript and write its foreword, I gratefully consented. As a serial entrepreneur and Cambridge-trained economist with over 35 years of experience in several innovative products and patents, I am constantly awed by the author’s deep insights into the economy as well as its movers and shakers of whom he keeps us well informed through his column.
This is a book with an urgent message: Markets guided by free-thinking entrepreneurs will continue to catalyse growth, create wealth and catapult the stagnated development process of a country like Nigeria. In Jobseeker to Entrepreneur, Aniebo is in fact emphatic that the economy has to be driven by entrepreneurs or so-called outsiders: people with talent who think outside the box from zero to one or one to 10; people who ask probing questions and then grow up to become inventors, craft makers and balancers of the classic risk-and-returns stratagems of yesterday’s and today’s titans.
A successful entrepreneur himself, Aniebo as a young man faced the dilemma of choice between jobs: to be an academic or simply a practitioner. He cleverly chose the murky rivers of private enterprise. He is a study in resilience, grit, hard work and excellence. Even his style in this work betrays the innovation trailing him – it is reader-friendly and doesn’t follow the beaten path of academic writing. This departure from the usual is right: it must be digital, cultured and in line with the fourth industrial revolution defined by robotics, artificial intelligence, space technology, genetic engineering and nanotech. All are products of our labour, knowledge and innovation.
The first two chapters defy stereotypes, as they are a critique of Nigeria’s systemic failure that has now led to the Boko Haram insurgency, corruption in education and sleaze in commercial transactions all of which Aniebo attributes to a “failed” preference for, and inferior reliance on, paper qualification. Moral deficiency embedded in our once hallowed classrooms (which once upon a time awarded degrees for character and learning) are now churning out deviants and “Yahoo-Yahoo boys”.
Chapter 3 is an epic landscape description of pretenders, and then goes on to the good faces of “saintly” entrepreneurs, what they cherish and how they have done it differently. Entrepreneurship in Africa has been shaped by icons like Aliko Dangote, Fola Adeola, Jim Ovia, Subomi Balogun, Ladi Kwali, Cosmas Maduka and scores more. Dangote, whose entrepreneurial zeal is partly in his DNA, is an incredible genius proving to be our own Rockefeller! His predecessors include his mother Mariya and great-grandfather Alhassan Dantata. Today, creative Nigerians in Nollywood, Kannywood and other artistes following in the footsteps of pan-Africanist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti dazzle the world.
The entire coursework in entrepreneurship is in chapters 5 and 6. Aniebo goes further to lead young entrepreneurs up the ladder of success, dissecting the state of the nation in multifarious ways. He identifies the sectors to key in for growth and success, and what is not worth contemplating. Not only does he point out job-creation strategies, he shows how the public sector can help propel young entrepreneurs to success.
I am tempted to regard this as two books in one, for it links entrepreneurship to good governance – and good corporate governance, for that matter – in later chapters with unassailable commentaries. My friend’s pen overflows with smart ideas – he has no time for “fake news”, even as he sometimes writes with rage. And, in this book, he continues the tradition of providing solutions to the trouble with Africa’s largest economy. As Nigeria, the playground of entrepreneurs, rises to its diamond age, he hazards that the task ahead will require a massive dose of innovation and reforms driven by real entrepreneurs nurtured in the art of music, arts, governance, organization, innovation – creating businesses that mitigate risk, all for human advancement, pleasure and profit. The last chapter, “Network Governance”, is a work of genius – it may prove more useful than some of the wasteful conferences Nigeria is well known for.
The book is a compelling read; compelling, because young people would find it easy to align their dreams to become career-focused even while in school, since jobs are no longer available everywhere in the world. In both industrial and emerging markets it is the same story – no vacancy. Covid-19 means compulsory holiday, unemployment or disguised employment.
Jobseeker to Entrepreneur will prepare your mind for the world of reality outside the classroom: The journey starts from discovery of an idea and writing a proposal to innovation in business, establishing a business and nurturing it to success. It reminds you of what works and the traps that lead to failure, among them weak management, absence of corporate governance, lack of funding and the unease of doing business.
This is a book for every student, jobseeker, lecturer, business person, policymaker and general reader. A transformation of the education system is inevitable because we just cannot keep producing graduates who cannot find jobs. The wisdom buried herein is surely a treasure for all.
MALLAM SULEIMAN YAHYAH, OON
*[Yahyah pictured above]