Value Orientation and Innovative Thinking: Akínkanjú As An Opportunity Entrepreneur, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
The Akínkanjú, the entrepreneur, is a pilgrim on the journey of discovery, disruption and change. She is constant in her doggedness, and never discouraged. It takes initiative and resourcefulness to have a vision, to take risks and create something of value, to be an Akínkanjú. The propagation of good values is important for economic growth and development…
First, this is Ulẹ̀ uyì, Ulẹ̀ ẹ̀yẹ. Èkìtì is back! The slogan for JKF 2.0 – Restoring Values, Enhancing Impact resonates with me because there is no telling what a brand of demagoguery known as “stomach infrastructure” has done to the psyche and reputation of Ekiti State. Stomach infrastructure represents a populist infraction, to make people accept a life-long dependency on handouts. It is a subordination of the age-old belief of striving, so that the next generation is better than the preceding one. It is a negation of the post-Kírìjì ethos among the Yoruba, that our region, having translated into a modern state, has a duty to provide for our people, the enabling environment to transit out of poverty. What the locust years brought was a thinly veiled class stratification, and a fatalistic acceptance of poverty, as divinely ordained. The verdict of history on that destructive diversion will be harsh.
For those who know me and how biting my criticism can be, will you be happy if I criticise Dr. Fayemi? I will be happy to. I have heard people wondering why his administration is creating laws, designing sound policies, creating processes and building institutions, instead of sharing the cake? Well, like you, I watched in horror how a State once famed to have a professor in every compound got into the rot it appears now positioned to get out of. Like you, I have held the calabash on the left and the bone China on the right. I know which one is heavier and which one has more added value. I reject the dumbing down of governance. I heard he is so rigid and cannot connect with the common man. Oh yeah? Ká mu ẹmu ní ìdí ọdán kọ́ ni’ṣẹ́ gómìnà. Ká yà bàrà ra àgbàdo jẹ l’ójú títì kọ́ ni ìjọba. Naked populism na long thing, e no fit born better pikin. It has dealt with Ekiti to our utmost surprise and it has landed the world in trouble, from the United States to Italy and Britain. The foundation of economic growth is already being laid here. #EkitiKete are proud people who want genuine development. Isn’t that true? E dàhún ni?
At the root of development is enterprise. The core values of work, production and productivity are found in the Yoruba ethos of Ọmọlúàbí. In Ekitispeak, ọni uyì, ọni ẹ̀yẹ. The fundamentals of Ọmọlúàbí, according to Prof. Wande Abimbola, is based on eight attributes.
Bàbá wa ní ohun mẹ́jọ ni ènìyàn fi ń jẹ́ Ọmọlúàbí:
3. Inú rere
8. Ọpọlọ pípé.
An Ọmọlúàbí must be:
1. Politeness in speech
5. Good Character
7. Hard work
8. Being sensible
An Akínkanjú is an entrepreneur by default. Entrepreneurs, by their activities, stimulate economic growth and development. There is no economy without entrepreneurship and there is no entrepreneurship without enterprise. To be enterprising, resolute and valiant is what we call Akínkanjú.
All the attributes of an Ọmọlúàbí are great but being an Akínkanjú fits the economic growth framework aptly. Ekiti is back to its pacesetting status and living up to its sobriquet as Ulẹ̀ uyì, Ulẹ̀ ẹ̀yẹ. From passing laws to protect women and including them in politics, to programmes aimed at jumpstarting the economy through innovative approaches, events at the present Entrepreneurship Week have showed that Ekiti is on the march again. Spectacular designs were created with Àdìrẹ made by Ekiti State University students, Aṣọ-òkè was made by local weavers and Ankara from Ankara spot. From the fashion show, the creativity of the designers has led to the offer to take ten Ekiti designers to the African Fashion Week in Lagos, later in the year. Two of them will be going for the African Fashion Week in London next year. The models are students who have found something hitherto hidden. From now, Ekiti will be a force on the African fashion scene. Akínkanjú ni yín láti ìgbà tí aláyé ti d’áyé. An Akínkanjú is an entrepreneur by default. Entrepreneurs, by their activities, stimulate economic growth and development. There is no economy without entrepreneurship and there is no entrepreneurship without enterprise. To be enterprising, resolute and valiant is what we call Akínkanjú. We the Yoruba have always been oriented into enterprise, into being Akínkanjú through pedagogy, even in the hymns we sang in secondary school, which I want you to sing with me:
He who would valiant be ‘gainst all disaster
Let him in constancy follow the Master
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim
The Akínkanjú, the entrepreneur, is a pilgrim on the journey of discovery, disruption and change. She is constant in her doggedness, and never discouraged. It takes initiative and resourcefulness to have a vision, to take risks and create something of value, to be an Akínkanjú. The propagation of good values is important for economic growth and development, because entrepreneurs reflect the culture in which they incubate their ideas and its set of values. Twitter, the social media behemoth, typifies the American drive through culture, by forcing on us its 140 characters rule. Twitter projects America’s no waiting, no stopping, no loitering, practical lifestyle. The Nigerian street cred understands this, as sharp-sharp. Every successful startup in the last 50 years, from America to China, shows that the values inherent in entrepreneurs in any society, has a direct relationship with its future economic growth.
At root of what ails us, is systemic loss of values. The disdain for hard work, the love of quick fixes and money has robbed us of what we used to be. Our ancestors passed on to us the Ọmọlúàbí ethos which in fact is an octagonal strategy. We must embrace and live the Ọmọlúàbí ethos. We need to stop doing stupid things.
Studies support the idea that social values influence economic variables. With proof that economic changes and substantial development are related to changes in the value system of the people at the individual level. In Nigeria and other parts of the developing world, we establish businesses, for the lack of alternatives. A researcher called this kind of entrepreneurship “necessity entrepreneurship”. Our kind of entrepreneurship is not contributing much to economic growth. In places where people have more opportunities of self-realisation, entrepreneurs are spurred by opportunities, unexplored niches, and their enterprises are driven by innovative ideas. For solid economic growth, we need creative and innovative spirits. We need Akínkanjús. We need “opportunity entrepreneurs”. We need innovators to produce the Ogotun mat, Ishan pottery and take it to the “Next Level”. Akínkanjús are the bearers of the Ọmọlúàbí value set, which will stimulate them to seek opportunities to start businesses. We cannot create Akínkanjús if we empower thugs to leadership. We cannot engineer growth if our first eleven are not representing us. We cannot evolve into hypermodernity if we do not create a pipeline to breed leaders. Why? Akínkanjús think and act beyond the urgency of now, given their need for achievement; they have internal locus of control because they take personal responsibility for everything that happens to them; they take calculated risks, and they are proactive, with a high sense commitment to others.
We are placing our hopes on leaders like Dr. Fayemi to break the mould. Sustainable development must replace ephemeral growth without development. Education focused on science-based research and development must become the trajectory for sustainable development. I appreciate the interest and strides in creating knowledge hubs in Ekiti. Last year, the Netherlands, which is uncannily the size of Ekiti State, exported $111 billion worth of agro-industrials through 65,000 farmers, organised in cooperatives backed by the nimble footed Rabobank. The task for modernists like Dr. Fayemi is to explore the trajectory linking science education, research and development, and entrepreneurship. With its traditional value of formal education, Ekiti State is well placed to be a mould breaker, as the old order is deconstructed.
At root of what ails us, is systemic loss of values. The disdain for hard work, the love of quick fixes and money has robbed us of what we used to be. Our ancestors passed on to us the Ọmọlúàbí ethos which in fact is an octagonal strategy. We must embrace and live the Ọmọlúàbí ethos. We need to stop doing stupid things. It is our hope that Dr. Fayemi will be referred to in the future as Nigeria’s equivalent of the mould breaking governor of California, Edmund G “Pat” Brown. Of him, The Economist had cause to observe that, it was his obsessive, almost maniacal, investments in social and physical infrastructure that turned the state of California into a world leading economy. In Ekiti, in Western Nigeria and in Nigeria, we need the right leader, who has the right vision, with the right mind to think the right thoughts, who takes the right action, says the right things, puts in the right effort, so his people can earn the right livelihoods, to create the right society. Dr. Fayemi and EkitiKete, history beckons!