By Bamikole Omishore
With the continuous fall in the value of the Naira against other currencies in the world market, it is gradually becoming imperative for Nigerians to come to the realization that it is time to focus on patronizing locally manufactured products. It has indeed dawned on many of us that the economy will not improve except we take pride and ownership in made in Nigeria goods and services.
The National Assembly under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has however been working assiduously in this respect as the Senate moves to ensure the amendment of the Procurement Act and give legislative backing to the expansion of the responsibilities of the Bureau of Public Procurement. Above all, the body language of thought-leaders across the board will shift positively towards ensuring the much needed political will to encourage local production and consumption of goods.
In particular, the recent visit of the President of the Senate to the Made – In – Aba Trade fair held in Abuja, and the recent online discussions regarding #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira have kicked off the opening of a new vista in the way the use and patronage of locally manufactured goods are seen. Prior to this awareness, the average Nigerian viewed Kereksuk Rice from Nasarawa, Igbemo Rice from Ekiti State and the Nasco Corn Flakes from Plateau State as substandard in comparison with the Thai Rice or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. This narrative is about to change.
The United States Buy American Act of 1933 remains a benchmark to follow for the Nigerian government in its efforts to strengthen our local industries via the basic economic forces of demand and supply. The new Procurement Laws which the Senate under Dr. Bukola Saraki foresees will guarantee more productive conditions for the local manufacturing industries, while also tackling unemployment and bringing back the pride of Nigerians in their locally produced goods – amidst competition from foreign products.
The amendment of the Public Procurement Act of 2007, as stated by Dr. Bukola Saraki, will make it obligatory for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government to first consider and patronize Nigerian products before their foreign alternatives. The passage of the revised Law which will change the key word from “may” to “shall” will make it mandatory for government agencies to patronize Made in Nigeria products when available. This alteration, once signed into law, will have ripple effects on the manufacturing industry, as it will assure local manufacturers of a ready and sure market for their products.
While all these efforts are ongoing, the leadership of the Senate has also assured the Nigerian public that it will work with domestic manufacturers and producers to ensure that their products are up to par with foreign competitors, by the proper legislative oversight of agencies mandated to ensure the standards and qualities of products.
Nigerian products must have comparative advantage. Made in Nigeria goods should no longer produce adulterated or substandard versions of foreign alternatives because the market is available. Also, it is high time we pumped the very best into our markets to ensure overall consumer satisfaction and building confidence in the Nigerian brands. The Senate will also ensure that effective laws are in place to ensure that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Standards Organization of Nigeria will also have to renew their commitment to ensuring high standards in this respect.
The State Houses of Assembly should also toe the line of the National Assembly in ensuring that enabling laws are put in place to jump start both the Nigerian Economy and inspire the growth and development of their state and local industries. For active citizens like myself, a new Procurement Law will mean value for money, economic efficiency, and national confidence – especially in the use of public funds and of course, improved reliance in the government procurement process.
It is worthy of note, that is also well positioned to key into promoting the use of Made in Nigeria With his appointment of tested-hands like Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, President Buhari has also shown that he is committed to ensuring that our infrastructural networks in Nigeria are improved. These strides, once fully implemented, would help increase the business productivity of producers, and create more accessible channels for goods to criss-cross the federation.
As the Naira continues to depreciate and the federal government continues to increase the number of items that will not be able to access forex, it is my hope that these strides by the Saraki-led Senate will motivate Nigerians to look inward to see how we can produce goods that we will otherwise have imported.
Bamikole Omishore is the Special Assistant on New Media to President of the Senate Tweets with @MrBanksOmishore