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PR experts urge support for local products

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Olabamiji Adeleye, Managing Partners, Addefort Limited; Keynote Speaker and Newly Decourated ‘Made in Nigeria’ Ambassador, Oluwatoyin Sanni, Managing Director/ CEO, Emerging Africa Capital Group; John Ehiguese, President, PRCAN and Segun McMedal, Chairman, Lagos NIPR at the fifth Lagos Public Relations Stakeholders’ Conference, themed: Addressing Reputation and Communications Challenges of ‘Made in Nigeria’, held in Lagos

Speakers at the fifth Lagos Public Relations Stakeholders Conference held in Lagos reached the conclusion that there is the need for deliberate and strategic approach involving public/private sector partnership, led by government, to address the reputation challenges of Made-in-Nigeria.
 
While delivering the keynote address at the conference that had ‘Addressing Communication and Reputation Challenges of ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ as theme, CEO of Emerging Africa Capital Group, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Sanni, explained that Nigeria as a country needed the right communication mix and that effort should be made to close the infrastructural gap in the country.

She noted that these were some of two factors affecting ‘Made-in-Nigeria products and services and government must make efforts to address them.

 
“There is the need for conscious creation of Brand Nigeria,” she said.

“We must be deliberate to adopt all measures to promote the best of our country to the world.”
 
On the country’s perception issue, she noted that there was need to understand that perception creates reality, and that communicating Nigeria to the outside world must be deliberate and strategic, adding that everyone must be involved in selling Brand Nigeria first to the world.
 
On his part, conference chairman, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Babatunde Paul Ruwase, explained that there was no better time than now to deliberate on how to promote Made-in-Nigeria, adding that patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods would boost domestic production, promote technology transfer and impact positively on GDP performance.
 
Ruwase said governments at all levels have major roles to play in the promotion of Made-in-Nigeria products, adding, “Governments in Nigeria are big spenders and could make a significant impact on the fortune of domestic producers.

We would like to see a demonstrable commitment to President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent Executive Order on the patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products as well as indigenous skills.

The country’s population is estimated at 200 million and Nigeria is home to about one in five Africans.

Our youths are creative and enterprising. These are strengths we can leverage on to promote Nigerian products and services.”
 
Ruwase concluded that the promotion of Made-in-Nigeria goods would boost employment generation in the country: “A major multiplier effect of patronising local products is the increased demand for local labour.

The country’s foreign reserves would also be conserved, thus ensuring the stability of our macro-economy.”
 
At the end, participants at the conference arrived at far-reaching conclusions on the poor health of the economy, Nigeria’s image problem and government’s shoddy handling of these critical indices of development.

First was that Nigeria is operating at very low capacity and that Made-in-Nigeria products are of quality but are competing with imported goods produced at low cost.

Nigerians must patronise Made-in-Nigeria to encourage the survival of the few local producers struggling to keep afloat.

Also, government was charged to lead the way in patronising Made-in-Nigeria products and the need to promote institutional standardization to get the best out of Nigeria’s production was also canvassed alongside the need to work on the institutional framework to check corruption.

Conferees also faulted the nature and quality of the country’s education, emphasising that there was need to promote vocational training and avoid focusing only on paper qualification.
 
Participants faulted government’s communication strategy, saying it is a major problem facing the Made-in-Nigeria’ brands.

Participants also called on government to be strategic in its communication and called on everyone concerned in that vital area to speak with one voice and avoid the discordant tunes that have become the hallmark of government in recent times.

They enjoined Nigeria to articulate a communication strategy on how to effectively brand Nigeria and tasked Nigerians to speak positively about Made-in-Nigeria products.


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