By Emma Okonji
Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, has called on the federal government to as a matter of urgency, extend exceptional tax concessions to the technology sector of the Nigerian economy as a means of encouraging the upcoming youths in creating a new digital economy for Nigeria.
Ekeh who made the call at the weekend, during the Silverbird Man of the Year Awards held in Eko Hotel,Â Lagos,Â said the tech sector that is driving leading economies in the world, is only struggling in Nigeria, a situation he said, has created fatigue in the Nigerian economy,Â as a result of its predominantly analogue nature,Â in spite of the great and sincere efforts of the present administration to turn the economy around.Â
According to him, 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.Â
Ekeh affirmed that these young men and women have globally certified education and need the right environment to exhibit their capacity, noting that if the country cannot provide it, the situation will 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 government provides for the brilliant youths.
In attendanceÂ at the Silverbird Man of the Year Awards,Â was a host of dignitaries from the public and private sectors including former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, several serving governors including Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu and the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson. Also present were the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, serving senators, among others.
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.
According to him, the 10 richest men in the world and the biggest companies in the world today can all be found in the technology sector â€“ a reality that shows how technology remains the only profession that can help Nigeria bridge the gap between it and other advanced countries in the world.Â
â€œTechnology 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 Bissau,â€ Ekeh said.
My research shows that over 85 per cent of Nigerian youths would rather prefer to make money only from tech-driven platforms, which certifies them as global citizens or do nothing.
If the federal government 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, Ekeh said.
While commending the government and its agencies, especially the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for improving the tax revenue base of the country, Ekeh 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 he said, would see Nigeria prosper immensely in the technology front.
â€œIf 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,â€ Ekeh added.Â
While commending Emefiele and his financial team for protecting the economy from failure during the recent economic recession, Ekeh also called on him to intervene in the tech sector more than he has done in the agricultural sector by extending support to millions of young Nigerians yearning for an opportunity to transform the fortunes of the country.Â