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Buy Naija to grow the Naira: Common Sense Economics


nairalifemag-lifemagI was in Nigeria last week to review Ben Murray Bruce’s new book “A Common Sense Revolution” at the launch event which coincided with his 60th birthday. It was my 47th visit to Nigeria which is a country I don’t just like. I love.

I was amazed to discover that there were 5,000 guests and that it was going to be broadcast live on national TV. In my introduction I mentioned how I was given the choice of which airline to fly to Lagos and that normally I would have chosen British Airways (I had worked on their global advertising for 10 years). However as I had seen the Senator’s #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign it inspired me to choose Arik Air.

When I mentioned this, the entire audience burst into applause. I had also tweeted a picture of me sitting in my seat in the Arik plane with the Buy Naija hashtag and that single tweet has been retweeted over 600 times and was trending in Nigeria.

So it is clear that Ben Murray Bruce has struck a real nerve with this campaign and the reason for this is I think quite simple but also rather uplifting. At a time when Nigeria’s currency has been adversely affected by the fall in global oil prices and it seems the Government is unable to resolve it, this campaign is a breath of fresh air based on the fact that it is common sense that if Nigeria switched consumption from imported goods to domestic products, that would help reverse the outflow of currency.

But more than that it is based on Ben Murray Bruce’s wider insight into Nigeria which has struck a chord with the people: that what divides Nigeria is not the north versus south. Or Muslim versus Christian. The real division is between rich and poor.

The decline in the value of the Naira does not have an impact just on the rich but on the entire nation as the economy suffers and jobs are scarce.

I am delighted to see the positive impact this campaign is having, and that people are actively switching their buying habits from imported to locally-made products. What its impact will be, time will tell, but what it has shown is that individuals working together can do something for the collective good. This is actually about giving people hope and the realisation that they have the power to change their lives – and that is a commodity that money just can’t buy.

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