Roles of Successive Governments in promoting Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Federal Government Policies and Programmes that Accelerated Entrepreneurial Growth in Nigeria since 1960.

General Yakubu Gowon Administration (1970 – 1975).

The General Yakubu Gowon regime (1970-1975) introduced the second National Development Plan 1970 1974 the objective of the plan was to achieve a united, strong and self-reliant nation, a just and egalitarian society and a land bright and full of opportunities for the people towards a successful entrepreneurship development that will ensure substantial rate of growth of the economy, a situation that will expand opportunities for employment, education and self-fulfillment after the Biafran-Nigerian civil war ( 1967-1970).

Murtala Muhammad/GeneraI Olusegun Obasanjo Administration 1975 – 1979).

When General Murtala Muhammad was assassinated on the 13th of February, 1970, his second in command, General Olusegun Obnsanjo, took over as the new Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. General Obasanjo pledged to carry on with the policies and programmes of his predecessor, one of such programmes was Operation Feed the Nation (OFN). According to General Obasanjo, “the aim of OFN was to make Nigeria self sufficient in basic food production during cropping season”, and to make every Nigerian an entrepreneur to meet up with the need for self reliance, since the country was facing the problem of decline in agricultural production. Obasanjo’s regime believed that Nigeria had the human resources, land and water resources, which if properly harnessed can feed the nation and generate surplus for exports. The main thrust of operation feed the nation programme to General Obasanjo was “feed yourself, feed the nation”. The benefit of OFN was increase in the quantity of food stuff, such as cassava, beans, yam, palm oil, ginger, cocoa, and groundnut. Nigerian farmers enjoyed the benefit of entrepreneurship and the culture of economic self reliance. Everybody was enjoined to farm on the land near him.

The Shehu Shagari Administration (1979 – 1983).

On October 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari came to power in an elected democratic process. He introduced the fourth National development Plan to enhance the pace of the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. The aim was that the economy would surely achieve a much greater degree of self-reliance and move substantially towards the objective of self-sustained society and entrepreneurship development. To further enhance innovative wits of entrepreneurship development in Nigeria, the Shagari administration introduced the Green Revolution in October 1979. The aim was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in basic food stuffs within five years from October 1979, and a crop exporter in seven years time. To achieve this aim the Ministry of Agriculture introduced and financed the River Basin Development Authorities. Irrigation and construction of dams, improved pesticides and funding peasant farmers. N300m was spent under the programme in Sokoto, N2m in Kano State and similar amounts were spent in each of the 19 States then. The eleven River Basin Authorities, RBA were so important agencies for farm improvement, and according to Ojiakor (2007), entrepreneurial development and economic self-reliance in Nigeria were also emphasized.

However, by the end of 1983, the Green Revolution Programme witnessed poor supervision and monitoring of the programmes and policies of the projects as a result of’ corruption. Furthermore, the Green Revolution and the National Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme did not make the desired impact because the agricultural grants from the National Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme, were hijacked by the politicians for non-existing farms while the actual farmers were left out.

By the time the scheme was suspended in 1983, two billion Naira had been spent on it without achieving the desired result. Since the Green Revolution failed to boost food production, the Shagari administration had to set up the presidential task force for the importation of rice to avert hunger and starvation in the land. It was headed by Umaru Dikko, according to Ajaero (2010) who was then the Minister of Transport.

The General Muhammad Buhari Administration (December 1983 – August 1985).

It is important to note that the fourth National Development Plan which was introduced by President Shagari administration was continued by the military regime of Buhari. The cardinal objective of the plan was to encourage entrepreneurial society and development so that there will be increase in the real income of the average Nigerian citizen. Reduction in the level of unemployment among Nigerians and increase in the supply of skilled manpower, science, and technology also witnessed innovation as well as reduced rural urban migration.

The General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Administration (August, 1985 -1993).

The General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida regime, August 1985 – 1993 witnessed the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI). This programme and policy enhanced entrepreneurial development in Nigeria as it brought progress to the impeding problem of food, and rural roads as well as infrastructural development for economic self reliance. DFRRI aimed to dredge the River Niger to stimulate economic activities and entrepreneurial development across the country. DFRRI also aimed to dualized roads from North to South and West to East, so that Nigerian people will gain the benefit of economic self reliance and economic empowerment. The Ajaokuta iron and steel company was to stimulate industrialization and entrepreneurial development in Nigeria.

The Babangida regime also introduced the Mass Transit Schemes that enhanced entrepreneurship development in Nigeria. Likewise, the movement of the  Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja created new ventures and innovational  ideas for new businesses and companies. By 1993 DFRRI had gulped N I .9billion. Many criticized Babangida’s DFRRI for not achieving the desired results. But some Nigerians praised DERRI as an effort to boost national drive for entrepreneurial society in Nigeria.

The Babangida regime also witnessed the Better Life Programme for Rural Women (BLPRW) which was initiated in September 1987 by Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Babangida, the First Lady, and wife of the Military President, general Babangida.

The Chief Ernest Shonekan / General Sani Abacha Administration (1993 – 1998).

Chief Ernest Shonekan became the head of the Interim National Government (ING) August, 1993 – October, 1993. The ING was put in place following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election believed widely to have been won by ChiefM.K.O. Abiola of the Social democratic Party (SDP). Chief Ernest Shonekan faced the challenges of management of the national political crisis. Therefore he continued with the economic policies and programmes of General Ibrahim Babangida, Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

However, when General Sani Abacha took over power from Chief Ernest Shonekan on November 17, 1993 through a bloodless palace coup de tat; Agriculture was given some inventions and innovation as banks were mandated to lend to young farmers to encourage entrepreneurial development and economic self-reliance to a great extent.

On September, 1994, the First Lady, Maryam Abacha inaugurated the Family Support Programme (FSP). The programme was aimed at women empowerment through the establishment of skill acquisition centres in Nigeria. The skills acquisition centres offered training on tailoring, weaving, brewing and computer education for women. The FSP attracted criticism as women from the urban centres hijacked the programme at the detriment of rural women for which it was meant for.

General Abdulsalami Abubakar Administration (1998 – 1999).

With the sudden death of General Abacha on 8th of June, 1998, General Abdul Salami Abubakar came to power on June 8, 1998; he introduced the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) to enhance entrepreneurial development and economic self reliance among many Nigerians. In the long run, the programme revamped the Nigerian economy for growth capacity building, inventive innovations and increased productivity.

The Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) which was formed in 1998, provided micro credit scheme whose primary goal was to provide entrepreneurial development, investment opportunities and innovation through the establishment of Small and Medium Scale Industries. The aim of FEAP includes:

  • To provide credit facilities for start ups in areas of small scale industries and enterprises.
  • To provide employment opportunities for young Nigerians.
  • To improve the living standards among young Nigerians.
  • To encourage cooperative societies among Nigerians.
  • To reduce rural-urban migration among Nigerian youths


The Olusegun Obasanjo Administration (1999 – 2006).

With the second coming to power of Obasanjo in 1999, he also introduced policies and programmes to enhance economic self reliance and entrepreneurial development in Nigeria. Thus, some of Obasanjo’s programmes to fight poverty and unemployment among Nigerians include:

  • National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP): The main objective ofNAPEP was to help and monitor governmental agencies put in place to eradicate poverty and achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of helping the proportion of people living in poverty by the year 2015.
    NAPEP intervention Schemes include:
  • Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES)
  • Rural Infrastructural Development Scheme (RIDS)
  • Social Welfare Services Scheme (SOWSS)
  • National Resources Development and Conservation Scheme (NRDCS).
    It is important to note that the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) as the name implied was a national drive towards a successful entrepreneurial society as many Nigerian youths witnessed employment generation, skill acquisition wealth generation, and youth development.
  • Industrial training centres were built.
  • Data bank for unemployed youths was documented.
  • About 100.000 graduates trained and resettled through the Credit Delivery Programmes (CDP)
  • The youths through NAPEP gained professional farming skills. Between 2001 and 2005, NAPEP has trained and resettled over 700,000 youths across Nigeria as they were partnering with NGOs and their states’ government.
  • NAPEP also empowered militant youths in the Niger Delta region with innovative skills to curb youth’s restiveness.
  • NAPEP also provided micro credit scheme facilities to youths to curb poverty in Nigeria.
  • NAPEP helped to empower young farmers numbering 7,200 farmers in 12 states on the ratio of four LGA’s per state.
  • NAPEP empowered many Nigerian youths with keke NAPEP shuttle for transportation in the State capitals and urban centres.
  • NAPEP through multi-partner matching fund schemes enlarged the loan funds for the youths.
  • NAPEP resettled about 106 trainees of the poultry training centre, Otta, Ogun State. Over 100 participants were resettled to establish cottage poultry farm across the country.
  • NAPEP and NGOs partnered to form youth information centres nationwide. The packages include furniture and equipment such as computer tables, chairs, computers, printers, fax machines, photocopiers, television and video.
  • NAPEP also partnered with NDDC and UNDP to introduce about 47 community skill development Centres (CSDCs) in 13 States and FCT.
  • In 2005, NAPEP spent over N450,000,000 for 54 groups/micro finance institutions (MFIs) for disbursement to end users.


Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Administrations, 2007 – 2010.

When President Umaru Yar’Adua took over the reigns of power from Obasanjo on May 29, 2007, he listed food security and agricultural policies and  programmes, Niger Delta, Security and economic self reliance and a vibrant entrepreneurial development as part of his seven point agenda. He was confident  that his administration would adequately address these key sectors to make Nigeria one of the world’s developed economies by the year 2020. However, critical assessment of the performance of President Yar’Adua’s administration before his demise on May 5, 2010 shows that he failed to achieve the desired result in terms of food security and agricultural entrepreneurship development.
Food prices had gone beyond the reach of many Nigerians. The Situation worsened because of the current global food crisis. Statistics show that about  percent ofNigerians were food insecure. This was because a substantial of the Nigerian people earn below the one dollar bench mark stipulated in hunger index of the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO.
Yar’Adua’s administration paid lip service to the agricultural sector as a result Of youth restiveness. Furthermore, Nigerians neglected agriculture to depend oil money

That was the reason when President Yar’Adua came to power in 2007 he promised to curb youth’s restiveness in the country, especially in the rich oil/gas Niger Delta region as the people were agitating for resource control and true federalism. The Yar’Adua post amnesty programme of the Federal Government for ex-militant of the Niger Delta region received a boost for economic empowerment and the entrepreneurial development in the region, as the government of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) granted a three year employment visa to over 170 youths who are to undergo a six month vocational training in crane operations, pipe line welding, electrical installations, health safety and environment at the International Centre for Non-Vlolence and Peace Development.

Goodluck Jonathan Administration, (2010-2015).

Following the death of President Yar’Adua, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan took over the mantle of leadership of Nigeria on May 5, 2010. He promised to devise the right strategy that would enable the country harness its potentials through vibrant programmes and policies to make Nigeria one of the world’s developed economies in 2020 in continuation of the policies and programmes of his predecessor. However, President Jonathan said in African Agricultural summit in Abuja, that his administration was determined to help manufacturing entrepreneurs and the agricultural sector by contributing 13 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP by 2013, up from the present 4 percent at 2012, Ile said diversification was a key to stimulating African economies from the effects of falling world prices, for the continents commodities, including crude oil, gold and cocoa.

In line with the spirit of entrepreneurial development, President Jonathan directed the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release N70.74 billion from N200 billion commercial Agriculture Credit Fund to deposit money in across the country to boost agricultural sector. Lamido Sanusi, CBN Governor said the money would bc used to finance 68 projects across the country. The agric credit scheme to encourage young farmers and entrepreneurial society was introduced in March 2010 to fast track the development of agricultural sector by providing credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at a single digit rate. The scheme has a seed fund of billion being proceeds of the N200 billion seven year bond raised by the Debt Management Office; it was made available to participating banks to finance agricultural enterprise. The N200 billion commercial agriculture Credit Scheme will help to reduce the cost of credit in agricultural production to enable entrepreneurship and diversifying the revenue base. However, Sanusi said, “it is not yet to be seen whether the fund would not be hijacked by dubious politicians as was the case in the past, thereby denying the real farmers the opportunity of enjoying the benefits of the credit scheme.”

Furthermore, the Jonathan’s administration continued to promote long term growth of the economy and entrepreneurship development through the National Directorate of Employment, Bank of Industry, promotion of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and the small and medium industries equity, investment Scheme (SMIEIN). Jonathan’s administration also witnessed establishment of schools and skills acquisition centres for the Almajiris Boys in northern Nigeria. The Almajiris are mostly children of the poor living far away from home under Islamic teachers and have to pound the streets daily in cities like Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Maiduguri etc to beg for food and alms. Government provision of skills acquisition centres for them will enable them to be self reliant.