When I first heard about the call for Nigerians to embrace “Made in Nigeria” goods, I felt it was an excellent idea. Understandably there are certain industries that would need a whole lot more than calling for patronage, and I’d be bold to say that the textile industry falls into this category. We simply don’t have what it takes to adequately supply to the majority of the people’s present need. Having said that, I definitely also believe that there are areas where we as citizens must adjust our preferences for the greater good of the nation. Before we start to ask for more financial boosting and the whole lot, I think that we must first of all clearly and thoroughly understand our why’s (why do we want to be a great industry?) and what’s (what do we need to do to achieve that greatness?) and then we must know how we will accomplish the task ahead with a structured and sustainable roadmap.
I wanted to know a little bit more about what other people are saying concerning buying “Made in Nigeria” and it’s interesting to read and hear the differing views on this issue, but I believe at the heart of everyone’s assessments, we all want the same end result – a nation that’s thriving in every industry.
There’s a brilliant article by Simon Kolawole written in THISDAYLIVE titled “Made in Nigeria and the Complications” and I’d love to share excerpts from it because it answers the question on why would we buy “Made in Nigeria”, and it has nothing to do with sentiments.
I highly recommend you read his entire piece to get the full gist. I particularly enjoyed reading the comments- a passionate debate ensues between two commenters on the way forward. Definitely check it out.
We’ll start-off on where he speaks on the alarming nature of items that are imported into the country and take it from there;
Emefiele had said there would be no more forex allocation for the importation of products we are already producing or can produce domestically — as well as items that are luxuries. At the time, toothpicks, rice, private jets and Indian incense dominated our attention. It soon emerged that tomatoes and vegetables — and many other items we produce here — are also on the list…
His “vision statement” — if he were to develop one — would be: “crush imports”. In branding, this is called competition-focused vision. It would necessitate an aggressive strategy to make the local industry grow and snuff life out of imports. If it works out well, imports would reduce drastically and domestic industry would grow phenomenally.
Because I don’t dare claim to be an economist, I would assume that our CBN governors’ motives/actions are in the right direction, and perhaps the nation is going through a process that isn’t intended to drown/collapse us but instead, I think if we look at it with fresh eyes, we realize that now is the time to begin to see areas where opportunities exist and begin to work towards meeting the needs of the people; and the needs are quite vast. He goes on to state,
“Crushing” imports and promoting “Made in Nigeria” are conceptually excellent, but I will show you a more excellent way.
It is one thing for Emefiele to think about “crushing” imports and promoting “Made in Nigeria”, but it is a different matter altogether for Nigerian producers to rise up to the challenge. How many Nigerian products are export quality? How many of them are properly packaged and presented in a very appealing way to the consumer? I try to separate the issue of “quality” from “colonial mentality” — that thinking that anything foreign is better than anything local — because I have come across many Nigerians who would like to buy local goods but are simply put off by what they see.
How much attention is paid to the detail in the production process? What is the quality assurance for the consumer?
This in particular is what I really want us to focus on, and why I felt the need to share from the Mr. Kolawole’s article; if you and I were given the opportunity to produce solely for the Nigerian market, how many of us are willing to give it our very best? Would our standards change if we knew there was a 100% potential for exportation of the same goods? Are we driven by excellence or are we settling for less-than? Our stance on what we produce ought to consistently portray accuracy, integrity and quality.
In conclusion, he states,
I do not by any means suggest that all Nigerian products and services are poor. That would be a reckless exaggeration…
And I do not also suggest that it is easy for Nigerian products to attain export standards. I can list a thousand and one obstacles that have kept our local industry retarded and struggling for decades, reasons including the very hostile business environment lacking in infrastructural backbone, financial power and political support. We know all these things. But my focus today is on the quality of what we produce. Even if the age-old problems are resolved, how many of our products can begin to compete globally? That is my point…
It is one thing to market a product with sentiments — it is another thing for the consumer to be satisfied and keep asking for more.
How do we get to the point where in everything we do, we as a people are known for excellence and integrity in our work/craft/service? In my opinion, it starts with the value we place on ourselves; knowing our worth I believe matters a whole lot more than we think. When I don’t value myself, I settle for less, but when I know my value, I know that I am worthy of the best my country has to offer me and I in turn, also want to offer the very best to my country. Our attitude changes from giving and receiving inferiority to becoming a people and nation that would do all we possibly can to be great, and that means we choose to become our brother’s keeper, or better yet, we “always do for other people everything we want them to do for us.” Matthew 7:12.
It’s as simple as that. If I want the best, why shouldn’t I task myself enough to GIVE the best?