By Olanrewaju Sobowale
If the world still survives by war, Nigeria will have the highest opportunity of being the strongest nation in Africa and thus uncontested ― the “giant of Africa”.
The world has evolved beyond fighting with swords and arrows. Guns are used only for criminals (ISIS and Boko Haram) included. But, that does not mean there is no war in the world again. As a matter of fact, the war of today is more demanding than the ancient’s.
China became a threat to America, not because of its arsenal but instead, the wonders it has performed with its trade economy.
Nigeria, the most populous and well-endowed country in the whole of Africa tails behind other countries on the continent because of its CITIZENS.
Nobody is to be blamed for the problem of any country but its CITIZENS. Arguing the problem is the fault of our leaders, is because we forgot leaders are also citizens just as the general populace.
The government of the nation seems to be underperforming according to most Nigerians perception, but the mentality of a typical citizen draws the nation backward more than any other thing.
Border closure was praised by some and criticized by others. However, as much as it looks like our problem is being dependent on other nations for most things we consume, we are not ready to start local production.
My attention was drawn to NAFDAC’s statement of its aim to ensure at least, 60 per cent of the drugs imported into Nigeria are manufactured locally.
Of course, the action is commendable. Although, the feasibility and commitment of the agency towards the actualisation of the vision is something else to discuss another day.
“Doubting Thomas” Nigerians who were sceptical of the quality of anything made in Nigeria started reacting to a Vanguard Facebook posts:
“Please don’t kill us abeg”
“Local made for the poor masses while the politicians with their families enjoy everything foreign. Local drugs kill you NAFDAC”
“Hummm back to sender,so fun no fit finish us all now na to start manufacturing medicine locally??? Na only una go drink am bcs as for me and my people una no fit poison us!!!”
“Thunder fire NAFDAC with ur local drugs”
“Hope the population won’t reduce drastically by2022 with fake items all in the name of local production.And these countries we are comparing with naija were advanced countries unlike africa”
“Nigeria drug GODFORBID.wetin make Buhari dey LONDON.?
This doubting Thomases forgot how much they hated Chinese made products notably handsets. Nokia was the reigning king then. Today, the story has changed. Chinese-made phones dominate Nigeria’s smartphone market.
In an international business paper published by Harvard Business Review, Michael E. Ported noted that:
“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labour pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists.
“A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade. Companies gain advantage against the world’s best competitors because of pressure and challenge. They benefit from having strong domestic rivals, aggressive home-based suppliers, and demanding local customers.”
The Nigerian doubting Thomases forgot that drugs like Paracetamol ― the popular self-prescribed drugs ― for Nigerians, is manufactured locally.
They never stopped for once to think how much it would have cost if it was imported and not manufactured locally.
Nigeria is not ready to become the giant of Africa. The country will only be ready when its citizens start thinking like a giant and not always seeing imported products as being superior to their products.
Americans will prefer an American-made NIKE to ersatz-NIKE products from China.
If the argument in your head is that Nigerian-made products are counterfeit, the fear of buying counterfeit products from local manufacturers brings us back to the mindset of Nigerian citizens. A noble citizen of any country will not in his/hwer right mind produce a substandard product and sell at a ridiculously high price to his/her fellow citizens.
A noble Nigerian citizen will not get to a political position and have the sole ambition of embezzling the taxpayers and crude oil money.
It all starts and ends with the citizens.
The country (Nigeria) will only become the true “Giant of Africa” if we all can awaken the giant in us.
In every corrupt Nigerian, there is a righteous man and woman deep down us all.
We all love Nigeria no matter how much we try to deny it. Our discontent at the situation of the nation speaks volume of our undying love for the soon-to-be “GIANT OF AFRICA”.
Olanrewaju Sobowale writes from Aiyepe Ijebu, Ogun State.
[Article was first published Nov 17, 2019].