By Kayode Ojewale
THE need to patronise made-in Nigeria goods cannot be overemphasized as it is one major way to economic growth and development. The economy of any nation grows rapidly when locally made goods are promoted through patronage, first by its people then through export.
It is, however, dispiriting to know that we obviously have been growing other countries’ economies through our over-dependence on imported goods, especially those which have local substitutes. Nigeria can easily experience a breakthrough in the quest for local content development and a stable, strong and advanced economy if Nigerians would patronise made-in-Nigeria products.
Sometime ago, in a decisive move to grow and promote the economy, the ex-minister of science and technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, reiterated the government’s determination to promote made-in-Nigeria products by giving preference to Nigerian professionals in the execution of all government projects. Dr. Onu said that the Federal Government had issued Executive Order No. 5, which made it mandatory for all ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, to patronise made-in-Nigeria products without compromising standards.
It will be recalled that the executive order was signed early last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, entitled: “Presidential Executive Order 5 for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian contents in contracts and science, engineering and technology.”
This order is a welcome development and a step in the right direction towards growing Nigeria’s weak economy. The executive order, if well implemented and carried out, will not only create job opportunities but also ensure that those jobs for which local expertise are available are not taken over by foreigners.
One of the lines in the Executive Order reads: “Procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts in line with Public Procurement Act 2007.” Another proclamation in the Order says: “Consideration shall only be given to foreign professional where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.”
The yawning lacuna between where we are as a country and where we ought to be can only be bridged if this order is fully adhered to by relevant authorities. Making these laws or giving directives is one of the two-sided steps to economic development in Nigeria. The other step is compliance.
Government is, therefore, urged to monitor adherence and ensure compliance to this order in all government MDAs. Any MDA that flouts it must be punished accordingly to serve as deterrent to others.
Charity, they say, begins at home and this necessitated the crusade and campaign for patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods to be enforced first at government ministries and agencies. If the statement by Dr. Onu then was anything to go by regarding punishment and sanction for non-complying MDAs, then we are on the right path to true economic recovery.
The immediate past science and technology minister made it clear that the bane of Nigeria’s economy is over-dependence on importation of goods which weakens the currency, creates unemployment and consistently reduces the Gross Domestic Product, GDP. He said further that Nigeria had over the years relied on income from commodity products, the prices of which are externally determined.
According to the former minister, the Executive Order which seeks to promote locally made goods will trigger a silent revolution in how we think as a people and how we regard science and technology as the missing link in our quest to become a truly great nation. It is quite interesting to know that the Executive Order bars the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. This is pivotal in order to avoid falling for the shenanigans of the so-called ‘expatriates’ who may even be illegal aliens with no qualifications but are only experienced in one area of work specialisation.
Not only will poverty be kept at bay in our country but also the teeming youths of working class background would be productively engaged if we all unanimously begin to patronise Nigerian products. The gainful employment of the nation’s abundant local labour is guaranteed if an outright ban is placed on massive importation and consumption of foreign products with no local value addition and which can be replaced with local products.
There is also need to shun the culture of giving employment preference to expatriates ahead of our indigenously trained professionals who are intelligently capable of doing the same job. Our over-dependence on imported products will dwindle, thereby growing our economy and promoting our local content if we as Nigerians will patronise made-in-Nigeria products.This way, the nation becomes self-reliant in producing and utilising goods produced by itself. This will create wealth and reduce poverty.
Going forward, it is, therefore, time we changed our orientation and psyche as a nation from an addicted penchant for foreign products and services to valuing our locally made goods in order to boost and develop our economy.