1. This inauguration marks a very important turning point in our national economic development drive with regards to our efforts to place micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as core and essential elements of economic transformation.
2. The creation of this Council is a testament to the commitment of this administration to all inclusive economic growth. Our commitment is to meet the aspirations of our people and in doing so, ensuring rapid economic development, benefitting all our citizens, North, South, East, or West. Our focus will remain to build an economy that works for all Nigerians, and the MSME Council we inaugurate today, is essential to achieving this goal.
3. Ladies and gentlemen, the growth of MSMEs is one that is very important in any nation that aspires towards self-sufficiency. MSMEs are the innovators, the wealth creators, as well as employment generators. Every MSME today, has the potential of growing to the large corporation of tomorrow, and that is why we are now backing the initiative with the creation of this Council.
4. Over these past few years, Nigeria has demonstrated its determination to the rest of the world that we are focussed in becoming one of the leading world’s economic engines. This we have done by achieving a reasonable level of macroeconomic stability even in the face of global recession.
5. We currently rank as the top most investment destination in Africa, the largest economy on the continent and amongst the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
6. As we build a strong economy and attract unprecedented investments, we must urgently address critical economic issues of inclusion and wealth distribution. I repeat; we must ensure that this economy works for all our people. That we indeed become a land of opportunity for all, and a land where hopes become reality regardless of who you are, where you hail from or what beliefs you hold.
7. This our land must be where our youth have jobs and our people can take their economic destinies in their hands. It must be a land where poverty is eradicated, and our people can live in dignity. This is the Nigeria we all must work to make possible and the MSME Council has a great role to play to make this a reality.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria is a blessed country and our people are some of the most enterprising in the world. We are a nation of 170 million people with a young population. We are a nation with the 9th largest workforce in the world, and some of the largest diaspora networks which can be used to drive change and development.
9. A 2010 survey carried out by SMEDAN and the National Bureau of Statistics, shows that there were 17.2 million MSMEs in Nigeria, employing over 32 million people. In addition, over 95% of registered businesses in Nigeria are small businesses. If each of these businesses employs one more person, we would create over 17 million extra jobs, which would indeed be a revolution in Nigeria’s job markets. This is the unexplored power of small businesses.
10. To actualize our dream of a robust MSMEs, I launched the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) early this year, to provide a National template to address critical issues faced by small businesses. NEDEP will henceforth provide a framework to guide all government interventions for Nigerian small businesses, and the creation of this MSME Council is one of the principles on which NEDEP is anchored.
11. The N220 billion MSME fund provided by the Central Bank which I launched a few weeks ago for small businesses, will begin to address access to finance for small businesses, and NEDEP will play a role to ensuring that MSMEs in the country are bankable and viable enough to access these funds, as well as other MSME funds available.
12. An urgent priority I expect this Council to take up, is the development of a detailed Financing Value Chain Intervention strategy for MSMEs, so as to address the difficulties put in the way of small businesses in their strive to access finance.
13. With NEDEP, and with the effective guidance of this MSME Council, we are making MSMEs a central part of national policy and ensuring that everyone in the 774 local governments in Nigeria is covered by this initiative.
14. This coordination will extend to the State Level, for which State MSME Councils have already been instituted in 10 states, and it is my hope that MSME structures will become operational in all 36 States and the FCT before long. These councils are chaired by the State Governors and will directly report to the National Council.
15. We have successfully taken the Federal Government’s support for MSMEs to all Nigerians by decentralizing SMEDAN from only 13 States, to all 36 States of Nigeria and FCT in just 5 months.
16. We have also identified, and are supporting at least one product in all 774 local governments in Nigeria based on each local government’s areas of competitive and comparative advantage.
17. I have been informed that over 40,000 MSMEs cooperative societies have been registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to help tens of thousands of small businesses to have better access to finance and access to business support services.
18. This Council shall have the mandate to develop, support, and grow small businesses in Nigeria. To underline the importance of this Council, I have asked the Vice President to chair the council, because of its strategic importance on small business development and the economy of the country at large.
19. A National Technical Implementation Committee, will be chaired by the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, to serve the National Council on MSMEs and fast-track the implementation of its mandate.
20. Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate and commend you all for heeding the call to national service. Let me challenge you, that as members of this Council, you must expand the frontiers of your thoughts and ideas as you embark on this national assignment. In this task, I urge you to dream big for our country.
21. You were specially selected because of your unique capacity in your area of specialization. My expectations and that of all Nigerians are high and I am sure, you will not disappoint.
22. On this note, I hereby inaugurate this National Council on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the glory of God and the greater good of our people.
23. I thank you.