By Adekunle Adekoya

WE, Nigerians, are proud people. We are people who work hard, and also, if you like, play hard. We love the good things of life and we all work hard to attain them. Those who found the home environment too limiting found expression in foreign lands and are doing well. We also love the best things money can buy — clothes, shoes, mobile phones, computers, furniture, and, of course, cars. As a result, men like to wear suits from designers like Gucci, Prada, Saint-Laurent, Brooks Brothers and Marks & Spencer. Still, others prefer bespoke suits from Gieves & Hawkes of London, or Caraceni of Milan.

There was a fellow who boasted that for his wedding, he would wear a “Marks & Spencer suit and a Salvatore Ferragamo shoe.” He did just that; he could afford it.

When people build houses, they boast that they would use Italian marble in the finishing, and the sitting room floor will be covered with Persian rugs. If it’s a party, they buy champagne from France, whisky from England, and vodka from Russia. For many of us, brand mobile phones must be BlackBerry from RIM of Canada, or Galaxy series from Samsung of Korea, or i-Phone from Apple of America. In the office or home, the IT gadgets are either desktops/laptops from HP or Dell of the US, or  Toshiba of Japan, while tablet PCs will be iPads from Apple of US or Samsung of Korea. Cars? You know where they will come from.

Get my drift? We love things foreign so much that in some homes here, the only things indigenous are the people themselves, and some of their food items like gari, amala, egusi, palm oil, and maybe ewedu or okro. Every other thing is foreign, from an established brand.

The point I’m making is that the opportunity cost of our continued preference for these foreign goods is our economy which we are not growing the way we should. Another casualty is indigenous manpower which is not developing for the challenges of the 21st century knowledge economy.

Several state governments, like Edo and Lagos for instance, have inspiring ICT programmes in various stages of execution and completion, in partnership with the biggest software companies in the world. Good effort, except that by forever patronising foreigners to the detriment of local talent, we will never get to where we should be, at least at the time we should get there. I am yet to be convinced that there are no Nigerian firms or consortium of firms that can do the jobs our rulers routinely “dash out”to foreigners, while their fellow countrymen continue to languish in the cesspits of poverty fueled by low or non-patronage by those who should.

It is the need to empower Nigerians that made the Federal Government introduce “local content” into the oil industry. In other industries, if we have the love of our country at heart, we would simply take a cue from that and empower that which is ours by challenging them. When they execute successfully, they would have grown expertise and the money earned will do a lot of empowerment work.

Now our Navy has built a warship and Air Force built UAVs (drones), technological spin-offs from these developments can only add value to the national throughput. However, there is need to purge the mindset that good things can come only from outside our borders by continuing to patronise foreign products. That, for Nigeria, will be “good thinking, bad product.”

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.