Of late, there seems to be genuine efforts by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, and other such similar bodies to diversify the Nigerian economy. Considering the current economic reality of the country occasioned by dwindling price of oil in the global market, there is no auspicious time than now to promote the non oil sectors as a way of salvaging our nation’s ailing economy.
If we are really serious about the diversification of the economy, one vital approach would be to revive local industries. This, indeed, are not the best of times for local industries in our country. The time has come for us to encourage the development of local industries in the country as a way of promoting the patronage of locally made goods and products. Our over reliance on crude oil as the primary export commodity and foreign exchange earner has, no doubt, worsen the situation of local industries in the country.
It is encouraging to note that the Federal Government is currently working on plans to promote the production and consumption of local products. Undoubtedly, this is a sensible thing to do. Aside providing solution to the unemployment problem in the country, encouraging the production and consumption of local products could usher us into the path of the much desired economic prosperity. This is the secret behind the rising profiles of the now prosperous Asian tigers. Our ability to achieve similar feat will depend on our capacity to harness human and material resources towards the promotion of made-in-Nigeria goods that can compete in both local and international markets. Sustainable development that would guarantee jobs, vary the economy, advance the standard of living as well as security of lives and properties depends on the existence of a robust economic development agenda that encourages production and sustenance of local goods.
Fortunately, we have an amazing advantage in our size. Conservatively, the country’s population is put at over 160 million. Nigeria is home to about one in five Africans. Our population is, therefore, a major source of strength and behooves on us as a nation to leverage on this factor to promote the Nigerian brand in terms of products and services as this remains the only means through which sustainable employment can be guaranteed. Nigeria is in a position to play a strong continental and global role because it benefits from a large population of energetic, educated, and entrepreneurial people, as well as from an abundance of natural resources.
For local industries and local goods to enjoy sufficient patronage from local consumers, there is need for the National Assembly to come up with a local patronage bill that would ensure that made-in-Nigeria goods and local producers are protected. It is a thing of serious concern that the production capacity of the local industries can neither suit local consumption nor export. A situation where Nigerians depend on imported goods for all manners of items is, to say the least, appalling. The idea of patronizing made-in-Nigeria goods should not be regarded as a parochial scheme. Rather, it should be view as a call for nationwide partnership to develop the kind of collective commerce pattern that would have positive bearing on national development. It has the potential to enhance the utility value of goods as products and consequent services for the specific orientation and cultural needs of the Nigerian people.
There is a need for holistic overhaul of our importation policy to discourage items that can be locally manufactured, as the leather exhibition has proven. One is actually in support of plans by the Federal Government to discourage the importation of certain items that the country has the potential of producing locally. We need to embrace attitudinal, structural, and cultural change that would enable major stakeholders to modify their outlook towards made-in-Nigeria goods. In our drive towards a varied and dependable economy, it is vital that we build internal structures that will establish it as an independent commercial hub wherein our position will be strengthened in the course of international collaborations and our negotiation powers leveraged by a culture of home-grown technical expertise.
Certainly, made-in-Nigeria goods will boost the nation’s manufacturing sector and by extension create more jobs. It is through this that indigenous firms can take advantage of bigger markets at regional, continental and global levels. It is important for the country to appreciate its fundamental dynamics by making policies that will ensure sustainable economic development. Advocating and supporting made- in -Nigeria goods is a sure way to turn around our dwindling economic fortune.
Nigerians should encourage indigenous entrepreneurs by patronizing locally produced goods and services. It is only in doing this that we could develop and transform local industries. There is no country that has managed to transform itself without adequate industrial growth or wholesome dependence on imported goods. Therefore, we need to empower local industries, and this could only be done by embracing locally made goods. Recent giant strides in the cement industry have sufficiently demonstrated that local industries could act as catalysts for economic growth if only the needed impetus for growth and development are put in place.
This is where funding and other related issues come in. Though the Bank of Industry (BOI) is currently making good efforts in this respect, there is need for more banks and financial institutions to buy into the ‘made –in-Nigeria’ vision in order to ensure enhanced industrial growth in the country. Equally related to this is the all important question of stable power supply. Presently, the power situation in the country is yet to really get out of the woods. If this is not frontally addressed, nobody would be encouraged to venture into local entrepreneurship in view of the high cost of sustaining alternative power source. It is not enough that the power sector has been deregulated to encourage private investors, much still need to be done for us to have a reliable power sector that could drive the local industries.
On a final note, there are immense benefits in supporting and embracing locally made goods. It is one of the sure ways to fully realize our potential as a nation. It is one possible way out of our current economic dependency and poverty. It is what everyone should support.
Ogunbiyi s of the Feature Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja