Saraki’s new year resolution
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to show your riches but to reveal to him his own.” The President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has launched a contest to promote made in Nigeria products. The contest scheduled to run for three months is aimed at showcasing the process and raw materials used in producing such locally made goods. The campaign is organised to showcase everyday products that are used by Nigerians and produced by Nigerians locally, that serves as an alternative to imported products.
The initiative, the Senate President stated, will not only assist upcoming entrepreneurs, but also open doors of opportunities for established local manufacturers to compete in international markets. The initiative is both novel and laudable. 2016 has been a year full of controversies for the 8th National Assembly; it was a great sigh of relief to see an articulate initiative coming out of the hallowed chamber in the second day of the New Year.
Another Senator worthy of mention is Ben Murray-Bruce, the Senator with common sense! His #BuyNaijaToGrowThe naira initiative has also been a lifebuoy initiative to save the Nigerian naira from further deterioration and devaluation. Recession is not restriction, it is redirection. It is amazing how the Nigerian lawmakers are now rising beyond politics to becoming change agents and gladiators.
I believe strongly that the challenge will encourage entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation and make us look inward to awaken our latent potentials. The major reason why the Nigerian Naira has consistently and continuously experienced economic degradation and free fall is simply because of our consumption behaviour. Apart from our consumption pattern, it is also apparent that we have failed severally to develop global products (products that can sell in the global market), as our blatant dependency on foreign-made goods has killed our initiative to evolve products that can sell in the global market.
One critical aspect worth realigning is our insatiable and voracious appetite for foreign and imported goods. We need a major shift from our ‘destructive’ preference for imported goods to the detriment of our local contents. We need an attitudinal overhaul towards our ‘foreign taste’ to the detriment of our local contents. We have blatant disregard for our local goods; an average Nigerian would prefer to spend more on foreign commodities and spend less on local ones.
The level of inferiority complex among Nigerian consumers is so demeaning to the extent that we’ve added toothpicks to the list of our imported goods, something that can easily be made locally. The entrenched taste for foreign materials has overly depleted our sense of value and relegated our local industries to the background. The revolution in the Japanese economy was initiated by strong patriotism of the citizens to their local goods and their belief in the superiority of their local content. We need a form of social reformation that will produce Nigerians that will be patriotic to our local content and goods.
I would like to categorically say at this juncture that without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” We must believe that we are agents of change, there is no time that a man has so much abused his existence than when he leaves the world the same way he met it. Nigeria has become a country where everybody is desirous of change but nobody wants to be responsible for that change.
One initiative that I found worthy of great commendation is the recent amendments made by the Senate to the Public Procurement Act. In its determination to make the patronage of locally made products mandatory, the Senate has passed the Public Procurement Act Amendment Bill. The bill will ultimately encourage responsible consumption and production. According to the Chairman of the procurement committee, Senator Joshua Dariye, the essence of the bill was to provide for and adopt the local content policy.
In summary, the amendment will help in the creation of jobs, stimulate Nigeria’s domestic economy by giving priority to locally made goods in all government procurement processes and ultimately enhance the timely completion of projects. This amendment will have a positive ripple effect on local manufacturers.
We must all work together towards ensuring consumer satisfaction and building confidence in our indigenous brands. The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) will also have to renew their commitment towards ensuring high standards in this respect. We must not only stop at correcting our unpatriotic patronage of foreign commodities, but also ensure that our local products are designed in such a manner as to appeal to global consumers, so as to package them for importation. We also need consumer orientation policy to educate the populace of the need to be patriotic and supportive of our local content. To fellow Nigerians out there, I am emphatically appealing: “PRODUCE WHAT WE CONSUME, CONSUME WHAT WE PRODUCE!”
The patriotic and inspiring story of the evolution of Innoson Motors is a pointer to the fact that one man can make a big difference by being an agent of change. From the humble beginning as a spare-parts trader to becoming the Chairman of IVM Innoson Group of Companies Limited, the rise and rise story of Innocent Chukwuma is so fascinating and has become a trail-blazing story for Nigerian youths. It is amazing how a man will ever consider investing in a terrain considered by professional analysts as a mission impossible.
We need patriotic examples from the top, I look forward to seeing President Muhammadu Buhari officially declaring Innoson Motors as Nigerian authentic brand; it will be a new way of branding the nation. Germany is synonymous with Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW; United States of America is notable for Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet; United Kingdom is known for Rolls Royce; Sweden has Volvo as a national pride, while Peugeot is the brand associated with France.
I am personally reaching out to patriotic Nigerians to support the Innoson Motors and make it our own national pride and brand. My candid advice to the Federal Government is to provide a conducive atmosphere for indigenous entrepreneurs to re-invest into the Nigerian economy
I am reaching out to the youths to join the revolutionary march for the evolution of a new Nigeria. The Nigerian youths should participate actively in this initiative. To participate in the contest, participants are to shoot a video of between 45 seconds to 3 minutes showcasing their product or service that is an alternative to imported ones.
The hashtag #MadeInNigeria must be used in all the submitted videos. The prerequisite for consideration is that the manufacturer must utilise up to 70 per cent of locally sourced raw materials to qualify as a made in Nigeria goods or services. Those shortlisted will be invited to a roundtable with investors and government agencies such as Bank of Industry (BoI), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and so on. This round table will ultimately give them the platform to launch their idea nationally and internationally.
The video has to state the registration status of the company, the number of people currently employed and the intervention you need from government to aid small businesses in Nigeria. I want to specially appreciate the Senate President for his well-thought-out initiative and also to encourage public office holders to evolve ideas that will revolutionize Nigeria. The road to a sustainable economy is going to be rough and rugged but it is better we suffer the pain of change or suffer remaining the way we are.