Remi Adetayo is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Moving Media, a marketing communication, and large format printing company that specialises in the area of provision of out-of-home advertising services. In this interview with Ikechi Nzeako, he argued that most of the problems facing Nigerian businesses stemmed from an inadequate supply of electricity, and posited that if the power issue was resolved, 50 to 60 percent of challenges would be gone. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to go into the advertising industry?
At the time I decided to join the advertising industry, the industry needed intelligent and educated people to come into it.
There was a yawning for people to bring innovative ideas into the industry and that was exactly pushed me into the industry. That was about 22, 23 years ago.
And how have you fared in the industry?
It has been wonderful; it has been a good journey and there have been ups and downs and they are still there from day to day.
The various governments in the country are competing with us in the business in a number of ways.
There are issues like multiple taxation and others. However, there is always the understanding that we will continue to dialogue with the government for a better tomorrow. The country is ours and we will have to live in it and we will do what we have to do to make it better for us all.
Why did you sign up to the Yesto30 – a programme with the objective to mentor young people below age 30?
The fact is that many of us grew up without being mentored and the situation is worse today because there are many young people, yes they go to the university and graduate with good certificates but many of them do not know what to do with the certificates they have acquired. They pound the streets and there is no employment and they resign to fate and depression and all that set in. Some issues come into play and some fall by the wayside and fall into bad gangs.
The important thing is for you to get people who can mentor you; people you can learn from; people who can help you to think outside the box such that if you do not get full employment, they will let you know that there are other things you can do. Not everyone will get full employment; not everybody will become a businessman or woman or a business owner.
This kind of programme will help young people to realise their potential and get to people who they look up to believing that they have what it takes to help them make progress in their lives.
I say to my workers that the grey matter in my head is the same grey matter in anyone’s head; what you do with your grey matter along the line in your life journey is what happens to you; your experience and how you develop yourself is very key. This is what the Yesto30 programme is set to realise.
What do you expect from the members of the Yesto30 programme?
My expectation is that the young people will learn some new things and rediscover themselves and it becomes a domino effect or has a snowballing effect on society.
You impact the lives of 100 people, and they will impact on another 100 and they will, in turn, impact another 50 and it goes on like that. Yes, other people will execute similar ideas or fine-tune it or do something that is close to it; more people will get involved and when more people get involved, there will be more lives that are impacted. At the end of the day, those who have been impacted will impact society.
The objective of the programme is to better our country Nigeria.
As someone who has played in the Nigerian business environment for such a long time, what is your assessment of that environment?
It is very tough; the Nigerian business environment is very tough. For some of us who are into not only service industry but also into production, if we can get the power right, that will take off 50, 60 percent of the cost of production. If that happens, production will become a lot easier to do; the cost of maintenance will also come down.
The end products will become cheaper and this will have a snowballing effect on the economy.
You can produce more effectively and you can produce better things; the prices of goods will come down and the purchasing power of Nigerians will be enhanced and all that. But things are getting better and the economy is picking up. We hope and pray that policies of government will continue to make the economy grow stronger.
What things should the government do on the short run to make the environment friendlier for business people like you?
There are no two things that government should do to make the environment friendlier; there is only one thing they should do.
The only one thing they should do is get power right. If they get power right, it will affect everything in the country. You are recording me with a GSM phone, how many years ago did it come into the country? About 15, 16 years ago; if they get power right, telecoms becomes a lot easier.
The broadband in the country is low and the Internet penetration to homes is not more than 20, 25 percent but if we can get the last mile on telecom to different homes and power is steady, what will snowball out of it will be mind-boggling. It will turn the country around; the generators we are buying and using; the fuel we are using to power the generators; what it does to our individual and collective health in terms of pollution.
We need to get power right. The Olusegun Obasanjo administration got the telecom right, I pray that the Muhammadu Buhari administration will get power right. Once we get power right, Nigeria will be in a good stead and on the path to progress and prosperity.
If you look at the proposed budget, the allocation to recurrent aspect is on the high side, does this portend good fortunes for the average Nigerian?
The reason why the recurrent budget is high is that the Civil Service is bloated and there is a need to prune it down. The cost of running the Civil Service in the country is too high; I do not have any regret or apology for saying that; I used to be a civil servant but the service is boated and we need to cut it down to release funds for other critical areas of the economy.
There is too much bureaucracy and red tape in the service. We need to break it down; let people go into agriculture; there is a lot of arable land in the country. The Civil Service, especially the Federal Civil Service, is over bloated and there is a need to prune it down.