Making A Case For Made-In-Nigeria Goods | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Making A Case For Made-In-Nigeria Goods

Posted: Mar 11, 2016 at 2:56 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

In recent weeks, so many commentators have risen with determination to persuade Nigerians to patronise goods and services made in Nigeria. Expectedly, most of the comments are underpinned by genuine nationalistic sentiments. Although such comments are not being made for the first time, at no dispensation has the issue elicited so much support like the latest call by Senator Ben Murray Bruce who also identifies himself as “the Commonsense Senator,” in response to the Made in Aba Trade Fair in Abuja, where locally made products were displayed. For instance, his position is supported by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, and so many online crusaders.
The senator even went beyond the realm of commentaries by introducing a #BuyNaijaToGrowtheNaira hashtag, to drive his points home. To further demonstrate seriousness, he acquired a made-in-Nigeria automotive brand from Innoson Motors. Reports are also rife that 50 other senators showed their support by buying cars made by Innoson Motors. This is in addition to the promise by the Senate President that the Public Procurement Act will be amended by the 8th National Assembly to make it mandatory for the government to patronize locally made goods. On her part, Hajia Abubakar has proposed a “Patronise Naija Products Campaign.”
Although the feeling and desire to give preference to our own goods and services may be strong and right, it is regrettable that our consumption patterns still hardly reflect that instinct of patriotism on which the feelings are anchored. However much they pretend to look inwards, Nigerians still find themselves under necessity to consume more of foreign goods and services than those with origin from the domestic economy. While the decisions may sometimes be situational and causative, it also appears that the growing appetite for foreign made goods and services among Nigerians springs from such superfluous factors as fad, “me-too mentality”, and a show of status symbol.
It feels good however that the latest buy Nigeria campaign effuses so much interest, which the country should latch on to enhance its entrepreneurial capacity. From whichever angle it is viewed, we believe there is value in the campaign. For this reason, we support the tempo to be sustained. Although this ought to have happened long before now, it is our belief that this latest campaign aimed to arouse national consciousness offers Nigerians an immense opportunity to achieve a reasonable measure of home-grown and consumption-led growth. Our Ankara fabrics, computer and automotive brands, plastic products, furniture, beads, rice, cassava, and many other locally made goods need to be promoted, elevated to national symbols and patronised beyond mere political rhetoric.
We demand that the adequate enabling environment should be provided to enable Nigerians unleash their abundant entrepreneurial talent, gift for innovation and capacity to aspire in this latest campaign. This underscores our conviction that the move would give more verve and values to the government’s initiatives on diversification, backward integration, and non-oil exports in the face of an economy that is hobbled by oil price and global market headwinds that have left it somersaulting in pains.
In the whole exercise, we believe there is a need for the government to define its objectives and make a clear distinction between import substitution and export promotion strategies, as well as gauge the pulse of patriotism in unambiguous terms. In addition, the roles of the private and public sectors in realising the cherished objectives of this fresh campaign must be clearly understood. Critical issues associated with
quality, standards and forms including international best practices, must be convincingly addressed by producers in the domestic economy, as patriotism alone may not be sufficient to convince discerning consumers to disconnect from their preferred foreign brands and switch on to locally made goods and services. Besides these, the country must be careful not to irk other nations and the World Trade Organisation through banning and tariff hiking as these could spark trade wars and defeat the whole essence of the campaign.
There is no running way from ensuring that the buy Nigeria Campaign succeeds. This is necessary, especially as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says 80 per cent of substandard products circulating in the country are imported. We are encouraged, however, that the institution has introduced the operation E-flush initiative to monitor and reject the influx of second-rate goods even from their countries of origin.
Above all, there is a need for attitudinal change among Nigerians. Without this, the campaign may still end up as zero-sum effort.