Recession helps blow horn about made-in-Nigeria goods

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The slogan Buy Made in Nigeria products has been trumpeted by government for many years but has been an empty slogan with no proper policies to back it up. However, with the economic recession biting hard in this country due to dwindling crude oil prices and militancy in the Niger Delta, the government’s renewed campaign to buy made in Nigeria goods may at last be taken seriously since there is no cheap money to spend on unnecessary imports.

At a National Press Launch of the Campaign for Patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products in Abuja recently, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said the campaign, which is part of government’s diversification agenda, would ensure that “never again we will be held hostage by a single commodity.” The minister said government has taken steps to amend the Bureau of Public Procurement Act to give more emphasis and advantage to made in Nigeria products. Government has also been able to achieve 41 major reforms across eight indicators of ease of doing business and is determined that the country moves at least 20 steps of global ranking.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enalemah also said, “The campaign is for real and we are not selling an empty wagon.” He said government will implement deliberate policies to reduce cost of production in order to make locally made products cheaper and competitive. He said,

“Government procurement policies will ensure it leads by example by ensuring it buys more of locally made goods.” On her part, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Aisha Abubakar said in 2015 alone, N6.7 trillion was spent on importation of goods and services that could be produced locally. She said government would encourage local manufacturers to produce good quality products of international standard that would be available and affordable.

This is a welcome development and we commend the government for taking this stringent measure that we hope would endure and manifest into reality. If government is serious and implements policies that would encourage local manufacturers, it would only be the initial tentative step due to many factors. Monetary policy should be made to favour manufacturers for them to be able to thrive among cheap foreign products that undermine their efforts and running them out of business. The government should protect our own manufacturers

However no matter how patriotic and economy-wise it is to buy made-in-Nigeria products they must have quality. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should work harder in this regard to ensure that Nigerians are not short changed. On the part of the consumers, many would not buy a shabbily packaged product just because it is from Nigeria.   Furthermore, importation of goods has been going on for so long that Nigerians have developed the psyche  that items from abroad are better than made-in-Nigeria ones. But if they see the leaders also patronising made-in-Nigeria items, they would be encouraged to so too. In order not to make the slogan sound like a broken record, the leaders should lead by example. They should eat Nigerian foods and drinks and government should also create a market for Nigeria’s products.

Even though we are signatories to the World Trade Organisation [WTO] protocols which force us to open our markets to others, there are enough loopholes in the protocols to enable us undertake a measure of protection for our local industries for some years. The biggest challenge in achieving Buy Made-in-Nigeria mantra however is power, which is the backbone of industries. All industries in Nigeria, large, medium or small scale are groaning under the chronic power shortage situation. So long as every enterprise big or small in Nigeria must produce its own electricity, so much will its production costs be prohibitive and it will in no way compete with cheap foreign products. It is an area that must be looked into once again.