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February 24, 2017

A case for made in Nigeria goods

No one needs to be told that austerity measure is back. We feel it; we smell it and it shows on everyone. Now in Nigeria the rich also cry. The poor who are the majority in Nigeria are roasting  alive. Those who could remember the late eighties and early  nineties can make comparisons between the officially declared austerity then and the hardship now. To be honest it is harder  now than then.
So, if there is a time Nigerians need to look inwards to save their economy from total collapse it is now. Similarly, if ever  Ndigbo themselves need to change their mentality towards  goods and services produced in their domain, derogatorily  called “Aba made,” it is also now. Needless to say there is fire  on the mountain and that Nigeria needs to run for survival.  We  need to end our dependency on foreign products, especially  those we can make here by ourselves. This will cushion the effects of the recession and the current economic hardship.
It is true that diversification is the key to our economic growth and survival but an economy that imports more than it produces is bound to continuously run into trouble.  Nigeria’s import bill  from food alone leaves much to be desired.  Therefore, urgent  as the need to diversify the economy is, it is pertinent to note  that inadequate infrastructure, especially electricity would  remain a major stumbling block to economic growth and expansion until adequately addressed. Apparently it doesn’t  seem government is doing anything seriously about that.   While the problem of electricity remains a big challenge, Nigerians should, as a matter of urgency, moderate their taste and appetite for foreign, imported goods, reduce waste and be  more prudent in expending.
Some of the countries now called advanced have been in a  similar economic distress as Nigeria. But they have, through fine economic policies, prudent management of resources,  diversification and patronage of local companies, gradually  hauled themselves out of danger. Nigeria can do the same, if our people are prepared to put the nation first and “think  Nigeria!”
An effective buy local campaign should be seen as both  necessary and urgent. Nothing stops Nigerians from buying  local and Ndigbo, in particular, from patronising goods and  services produced in their own home to save themselves from  hunger, ease the burden of the recession and stop the  economy from continuously somersaulting. It is time to turn our attention to “made in Nigeria”, “made in  Aba,” or “made in Onitsha” goods and services.
Time has come for us to force ourselves to prefer Aba-made to made in China, Taiwan, UK and America.  American companies are not known to produce top-quality or durable goods yet Americans patronise them, helping to create jobs for their people and support their economy.  Nigerians need to do the same. However, one cannot ignore the reasons why many of our people shun local goods.  A major reason is the poor quality which is primarily due to lack of resources, specialised tools and yes, poor training, among others. Our youths are generally no longer interested in hardwork and delayed gratification. They want the money now!
One thing we cannot deny is that we have the resources, our  people are creative and can produce good quality products, if  enabled to do so. Government must, therefore, provide the enabling environment for manufacturing to thrive.  Government must provide the basics for sustainable industrial growth, electricity, good roads, soft loans and eliminate double  and sometimes triple taxation. The Standard Organisation of  Nigeria (SON) must be empowered to do its job.
Those whose business is mainly importation should be encouraged to invest in local manufacturing. We must support our cottage industries, encourage youth apprenticeship, and discourage immediate gratification.
Finally, Nigerians and Ndigbo must learn to invest in themselves and also buy local. If what we produce ourselves is  not good enough for us to consume, it means the problem is  bigger than we think.

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