- Grant Tax Concessions Breed Scientific Robbers, Ekeh Tells FG
By Olabisi Olaleye
In order to curb scientific vices and encourage the struggling technology sector in the country, Chairman of Zinox Group, LeoStan Ekeh, has charged the Federal Government to seriously consider extending exceptional tax concessions to the industry.
According to him, this would further boost the huge undoubted youthful potential in the sector to create a new economy.
Ekeh made this charge at the sideline of the Silverbird Man of the Year Awards at the weekend.
He harped that the tech sector, which is driving leading economies in the world, is seriously struggling in Nigeria. And despite the great and sincere efforts of the current administration, the Nigerian economy is also fatigued as a result of its predominantly analogue nature.
Said he: “Millions of Nigerian youths nurse big dreams and have the capacity to thrive in a new and futuristic economy that is technology-driven, but urgently need government support in terms of structured capital and tax concession during their incubation period”.
Ekeh further stated that these young men and women have globally certified education and need the right environment to exhibit their capacities, noting that if the country cannot provide it, the situation would create unfortunate ones who would resort to scientific robbery, kidnapping and many other vices. He also warned that “The nation may not experience all-inclusive peace until we provide for these brilliant kids”.
Ekeh, who received the Extraordinary Business Achievement Award at the event, disclosed that globally, technology has become the driving force behind the fortunes of many nations.
The digital serial entrepreneur maintained that the 10 richest men in the world and the biggest companies in the world today can be found in the technology sector, a reality that shows how technology remains the only profession that could help Nigeria bridge the gap between her and other advanced countries in the world.
“Technology is the only profession in the world today that can make the son of the poorest man the richest man in the world. Though still struggling, I am a practical testimony of the possibilities in the sector, having led several technology teams that deployed in Iraq, Libya, Guinea and Bissau. However, I am still Nigeria-based. It is not just its lifestyle nature but technology is the only profession in world today in which you could experience miracle wealth. Our kids have read, seen and worked in tech companies or tech-driven companies in the world that became multi-billion dollar companies within five years and they are smarter than many of these foreign entrepreneurs but their only sin is that they are Nigerians and living in Nigeria.
“I have experienced this frustration for over 30 years and it is too late for me to complain. These kids are 21st Century youths and the majority of them are not interested in agriculture and will never be forced to adopt it because of its unstructured nature. Youths today are faith-driven and can anticipate the future better than their parents and leaders. My research shows that over 85 per cent of them would rather prefer to make money only from tech-driven platforms which certifies them as global citizens or do nothing.”
Continuing, Ekeh disclosed that, “If the Federal Government of Nigeria can invest 20 per cent of what she has invested in the Agricultural sector in the Tech sector, over 75 per cent of present unemployed youths would become employed or self-employed in a profession that has a future. I am not against investment in the Agricultural sector, but it is a sector of extreme passion today due to its present analogue nature. Our leaders should ask their children who trained in quality institutions if any of them would want to do farming, for example. I am sure the answer you will get is 100 percent No. Who do you expect his child to go into farming? Farming is good, but it is a profession of passion. You can’t force a young man or woman to farm,” he said.
Ekeh further pleaded with the Federal Government to encourage a new and prosperous economy by allowing entrepreneurs in the ICT sector a decent tax-free period of at least ten years – an incentive that will see Nigeria prosper immensely in the technology front.
“If this is granted, this country will experience, within the next five years, an army of tech billionaires whose one year tax payments shall significantly be more than our present ten years’ collections. We must see the bigger picture and prepare for tomorrow instead of frustrating people at incubation period. IT companies in today’s Nigeria are the poorest corporates and slowly disappearing – a situation which I find very unfortunate. Tech kids are restless and need time to develop, experiment and deliver products into the market successfully. Most times you succeed with one out of the thirty you invested money and time in. It takes time to stabilize in a country that is not digitally-driven. I am in a better position to tell this story because I have been in same sector for over 30 years. The sector is full of hype because it is a youth-dominated profession and when the FIRS personnel read, they come to the conclusion that you are a multi-billionaire and then go after your company.