So much has been said on the necessity for Nigerians to patronize made in Nigeria goods. This is because Nigeria is the middle point of both business and commercial activities in Africa and an investment destination in the West African sub-region. That is why the federal government has been shouting on the importance of economic diversification, local content, export promotion drive and vigorous investment campaigns aimed at growing the nation’s economy by creating wealth and employment opportunities.
It is common knowledge that the Nigerian economy has been import-dependent for many years. This has cost the country billions of dollars at the foreign exchange market in payment for goods and services. This is the reason Nigerian businesses are tumbling and crashing. The irony of it is that most goods and services purchased at the foreign exchange market are not more qualitative than the ones produced locally. Elementary economics makes it obvious that no nation can develop in this kind of situation.
Countries referred to as economic giants today didn’t attain the feat by being import-dependent. Such nations looked inwards, and some like China and other Asian countries shut their borders to imported products for many years before they got it right. Now, they are major exporters of goods and services to the rest of the world.
We in Nigeria have a very little propensity for the consumption of our locally-made products. Lack of patronage of Nigerian goods has kept us where we are. We have made an obsession of foreign goods to the extent that high-quality Nigerian goods are unpatronized and jettisoned.
In a bid to fix this problem, the Senate once passed a resolution making it mandatory for all federal ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to indulge made in Nigeria goods. But the senators ended up worsening matters and exhibited affectation as they only succeeded in admonishing us to do what they themselves are unable to do.
Why do Nigerians find it hard to patronize what is produced in their own country? The answer is simple. Distrust. Most Nigerians lack faith in locally-produced goods and services. They have always considered them sub-standard or of low quality. This is what leads to the chronic patronage of foreign goods.
The instinctive good taste Nigerians have for foreign goods is so robust that anything tagged “made in Nigeria”, regardless of how valuable it is, is deceased upon arrival at the local market. It is this pariah status Nigerian goods relish at the domestic market that constitutes one of the reasons our products are rejected in the global market.
Another reason our goods are unaccepted abroad is their poor quality. Mexico once reportedly castoff hundreds of containers loaded with made in Nigeria products for lack of quality control and poor packaging. Who knows how many Nigerian goods have been discarded at the international market for similar reasons. For many years, the Nigerian Shippers Council has been receiving series of complaints about the rejection of exported products by overseas buyers because of poor quality.
This problem could be fathomed if the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) steps up its operations to ensure that Nigerian products adhere to global best practices. Made in Nigeria goods have to measure up to the global standard. This feat can be attained through regulatory effectiveness of Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), which has remained dormant for many years.
There is so much to be done to advance the course of our local goods. As President Buhari’s administration does more to promote their consumption, our leaders in various positions have to show worthy stereotypes to complement his efforts. Senator Ben Murray Bruce is one Nigerian who should be acclaimed for being a paradigm in this regard. He has consistently shown his affection for local goods by patronizing and publicizing them at all times.
While making a case for made in Nigeria goods, the quality or standard of such goods is expedient. They must be one that will give confidence to buyers both locally and internationally. From this, it will follow that our goods will be branded while local manufacturers will seek to promote and protect their brands.
It is indeed poignant that following our inability to manufacture standard goods, many foreign manufacturing firms have reduced Nigeria to a dumping ground for sub-standard goods and services. The federal government has to guarantee that the nation’s manufacturing sector is fully developed to sufficiently meet the demands of the enormous Nigerian population.