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Friday, February 19, 2016

The Made in Nigeria Campaign By Reuben Abati

Championed by Senator Ben Murray Bruce, and supported by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar and a large crowd of online campaigners, so much ink, saliva, and emotions have been invested in this old, and perhaps boring story.

Senator Bruce, who goes by the moniker “the Commonsense Senator” even introduced a hashtag #BuyNaijaToGrowtheNaira. He hasn’t quite explained the connection, but with the exchange rate melting down and the Naira yo-yoing, everyone including our neighbourhood electrician, and his friend, the battery charger, have both become experts on the fortunes of the national currency.

Senator Saraki has promised that the Public Procurement Act will be amended by the 8th National Assembly to make it mandatory for the government to patronize locally made goods. Minister Aisha Abubakar has proposed a “Patronise Naija Products Campaign.”

It all sounds so familiar but what has triggered this latest effusion of patriotism was a Made in Aba Trade Fair in Abuja, where locally made products including shoes were displayed and purchased by the snobby class now acting as great promoters of Nigerian identity and entrepreneurship. Senator Bruce and the National Assembly have also purchased made in Nigeria vehicles from Innoson

Motors, a local vehicle manufacturing company. The interest that this has generated is good publicity for Innoson Motors, and it will probably provide good justification for the National assembly purchasing more vehicles. It is also an excellent advertisement for local entrepreneurship. There was a time in this country when the phrase Aba-made was meant to be denigrating, but today, corporate suits and other items made in Aba have made it to the status of a Trade Fair.

We must be reminded nonetheless, that this buy Nigeria campaign, or proudly Nigerian, as it was once called, has been promoted in one form or the other for more than 30 years. At a time, Federal Ministers chose to wear Ankara fabrics, which is supposed to be locally made, and at another time, the Federal Government only patronized Peugeot Motors, which then had a thriving car manufacturing company in Kaduna. Virtually every government has tried to promote Nigerian goods.

And there is certainly no doubt that there is a lot of entrepreneurial talent out there in Nigeria, a gift for innovation and a capacity to aspire. 

Given the right, enabling environment, Nigerians are willing to help government promote the objectives of diversification, backward integration, and non-oil exports which are at the root of all this talk about made in Nigeria. The YouWin exhibitions held between 2014 and 2015, showed great potential, especially in the agriculture and food sector, and the need for government to encourage entrepreneurship and manufacturing. But lessons were also learnt, and it is the same lessons that should guide the current patriotic excitement over locally made goods.

In the end, Senator Bruce, patriotism is not enough, lest it turns us all as someone warned into “scoundrels”, seeking economic restoration without the right strategy and attitude.

The first lesson is that we need to truly encourage the transformation of Nigeria into a primary, productive market, and not a secondary market for the dumping of goods. We may be celebrating the fact that some Nigerians are making the effort to produce goods locally, but really how much of that local production is local? I can bet that the leather that is used for the shoes we are being encouraged to buy is not produced in Nigeria. Our local entrepreneurs import leather, manage to produce something labeled Nigerian, when in fact the entire value chain could have been truly local? Innoson Motors is well known in government circles, but have we measured how much of those Innoson vehicles is actually local? 30%?

Before Innoson, we had Omatek and Zinnox computers, advertised as made in Nigeria goods. But where in this country do we have young technicians producing computer chips and other components? We need to take a second look at the concept: made in Nigeria, and be sure that we are actually talking about the same thing. What is the answer? I think government must in the long run insist that those who seek to sell in the Nigerian market, must set up their factories here, and produce for the Nigerian market inside Nigeria. We have all the raw materials that may be needed, and we have the market, the biggest in Africa.

People come here, take our raw materials to other factories in other parts of the world, send back the products and then make profit iat our expense. We end up creating jobs in other parts of the world, and receive finish products that could have been produced here. No. If Toyota and Nissan want to sell cars in Nigeria, then they must produce the cars inside Nigeria and source their materials and labour majorly from here, and brand the vehicles Made in Nigeria and export them to other parts of the world. In recent years, there was such discussion with Hyundai and Volkswagen. Minister Aisha Abubakar should look at the records. Innoson can then compete with Toyota Nigeria, Nissan Nigeria, Hyundai Nigeria and Volkswagen Nigeria. The same argument goes for every other product in need of direct investment. The point is not about being local; it is about developing the capacity to turn Nigeria into a world-class production and economic centre.

The second lesson has to do with quality and standards. The recent debate has been about indigenous patronage as a test of patriotism. I don’t think that is the right focus. People like quality. In a capitalist system, they will make their own decisions and choices with the capital at their disposal. And we shouldn’t be talking as if Nigerians should produce made in Nigeria goods to be consumed only by Nigerians, whether good or bad. The vision, consistent with the ambition of the authors of the country’s various development plans, is to produce world-class products inside Nigeria. What we have seen is that locally made goods often fall short of international standards. They lack the competitive edge.

It is good to buy Aba-made, but our ladies who are used to Hermes and Louis Vuitton are not likely to trade their designer bags for Nnamdi bags, except the latter can compete and become a global brand. It has been reported that many Nigerian goods sent for export are often rejected overseas, for such simple reasons as packaging or basic standards. No amount of patriotism can by-pass that. We have a Standards Organisation of Nigeria and an Export Promotion Council: what is the synergy between them and the various SMEs striving to break into the export market?

The third lesson is that government must just make up its mind about this whole thing about the diversification of the Nigerian economy. It is not the responsibility of one government or administration; it is a process that should move Nigeria from being a democracy observing electoral commission rituals, into a developmental state. We were almost there under the military quite ironically, but then the military also lost it due to bad attitudes.

Once upon a time in this country, there was regular electricity, manufacturing companies, both local and foreign thrived, salaries and pensions were paid as at when due, potable water was available, the leaders sounded as if the Nigerian people and their welfare were important and there was a suffocating vision of Nigeria being the “giant of Africa”.
When students graduated from universities, teacher training colleges, and nursing schools, they were sure of immediate employment, which brought them life-long fulfilment. Brilliant students got special scholarships; every student got a bursary, our schools attracted students and teachers from every part of the world. And now, here we are wondering why? What happened? This collapse of the Nigerian standard is the worst thing to have ever happened. Younger ones may not even believe that indeed Chinua Achebe was right when he wrote that “there was once a country.”

The challenge can start with re-discovering that lost country and moving forward from that point. I mentioned services in addition to goods earlier. And I ask: how many Nigerians are satisfied with Nigerian services? Many families won’t even employ a Nigerian nanny or driver. They would rather look for people from Asia and West Africa. Builders won’t recruit Nigerian masons: they ‘d rather use artisans from Ghana or Togo. When foreign companies set up businesses in Nigeria, they bring staff from their own country, and violate the expatriate quota in collusion with our own people; they even import cement and other equipment from elsewhere and our officials look the other way. We don’t even respect ourselves as a nation. But we love slogans.
So, the matter is not as simple as just buying Nigerian goods. It is not about trending hashtags, slogans or propaganda, but a decision to move this country beyond the on-going knee-jerk, desperate elite war of position within the political spectrum, and see what can work for the people’s benefit. We want to buy made in Nigeria goods, and yet every start up business in this country is facing serious challenges; the more established manufacturing outfits are groaning. Every election season, the private sector pretends to support the political process, but once its chieftains are not allowed access, control or influence, they become closet saboteurs. I consider that to be a subject in the heart of the future.

What needs to be done is before our very eyes, but its starting point must include the education system. Very few parents these days still buy the services provided by Nigerian schools, the private ones that receive better patronage train the children to end up in foreign schools including schools in Ghana and Benin Republic. Nobody is training quality artisans either, because all the Government Technical Colleges of old have been shut down and many of our young men are more interested in kidnapping and riding okada. So, where are the critical young men and women and institutions to drive the renewal we seek? The matter is so complex; it is the reason I don’t envy anyone who is President of Nigeria.

72 comments:

chioma jacinta said...

* it's well*

Babylawyer. said...

Another FFK of our time.

@Lindaikeji No. I FAN

Achi Izuegbunem said...

Good...

AbokiDaWarriBoy said...

Igbam!!!

Ichebi Christian said...

Sir isn't too early to bless us with such epistle?

Adebayo Idowu said...

Abati should go and sit down and keep quiet. I can never ever read his articles again. He discredited himself wit GEJ. He's become a "yesterday's man." Quietly go into oblivion.

BONARIO NNAGS said...

There should also be emphasis on quality, we won't because we are trying to promote made in Nigeria products and buy substandard products.


. ~BONARIO~says so via NOKIA LUMIA

NaijaDeltaBabe said...

Nigerians r now forced to buy made in Nigeria goods na


... Merited happiness

Vivian Reginalds said...

He made so much sense imagine the chant of buy naija to grow the naira by Murray Bruce, where's the innosson car factory??? Where's the zinnox manufacturing factory? Just a few being the shoes, clothes, suits have their production in Nigeria.
-D great anonymous now as Vivian Reginalds

olumide abiodun said...

Well, the dude actually made a lot of point.



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me,masef and eyes!!! said...

Promoting "Buy Made in Nigeria" goods is a laudable campaign that should be adequately enforced in the face the ailing Exchange rates of Naira against the Dollar.
While Nigerians need to look inwards for their needs, the Standard Organization of Nigeria and Manufacturers Association should collaborate to ensure the standardized quality and durability of the Made in Nigeria goods.
These will be a right direction in improving our ailing economy as well as provide a needed diversification of the economy...emmysam2/Nl
#BuyNaijaToGrowtheNaira
.
.
.
*ah mk her cum first...den ah folo de lead*

Anonymous said...

People attracting attention. it should not be made in Nigeria only, it should be proudly Nigerian. Please tell them to stop going for medical treatment abroad, vacation abroad, schools abroad, and so on. let them fix our schools, roads, hospital, and our tourism centres, they are the government, They sabotage our economy. it is not when Okonjo or Abati is wearing ankara fabrics that is when he chose to be made in nigeria. let them receive medicals and their children education here in Nigeria.

Ebony Choco said...

Wonder why he did not give his idea during jonathan's regime, to transform this country is going to take a lot of time n sacrifices,ideas without action is meaningless. Everybody should do their part and not to criticize each other and those that claims to have ideas let them work on it. Buki

ejeme ebohon said...

Well written sir

emmanuel okon said...

Wellsaid.



emmanuelokon44@gmail.com

Eric Nesty aka LIB'S FINEST said...

Okay....


#FINEST

Anonymous said...

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Town Crier 247 said...

Reuben Abati shut up


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Town Crier 247 said...

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anita gold said...

My thought exactly

anita gold said...

My thought exactly

Funny Naija said...

Grown up Ladies Dancing Naked

Anonymous said...

hmmm, how I wish you never dine with the former government, anyway you have raised a valid point and I think the message should be preach across the nation i.e homes, churches, mosques and let us move this country forward.

Charles Okafor said...

Nice i must say..












Enugu's second shoe designer

Godseal Obende said...

Does he give a fuk about your very miserable low life? Just quietly go and die

Chuma Anumiri said...

Abati u will get a position soon in the govt. And participate in the turning around of our economy. Get set.

Jules said...

He emphasized on quality, as it is paramount

Anonymous said...

He has a good points but in my own view to build a nation like Nigeria with our huge market.close economy would have been a good beginning.eg, Automotive sectors,federal govt should introduce more taxes on import of cars to discourage people from buyn foreign cars and then partner with innosin motors for 10yrs and see how many revenue they will generate....

Segman said...

I smell skepticism here. Anybody can write this i.e. identify the problems, it is doing something about it that is important. You cant sit on your arse and raise your noses at people trying to do something. Mr. Abati, another chip has been made in my respect for you.

Jamila Shaibu said...

So most this P.D.P people ready meaning or object everything A.P.C does??? Kaii this man and his long article



I'm not a robot

Segman said...

I smell skepticism here. Anybody can write this i.e. identify the problems, it is doing something about it that is important. You cant sit on your arse and raise your noses at people trying to do something. Mr. Abati, another chip has been made in my respect for you.

BUT MAKA WHY said...

Mr. Abati...why didn't you suggest this to Jonathan or use your media office to promote this during Jona's administration.
APC wouldn't employ you...go get another job.

Magnus Amudi said...

I have enjoyed a good read. But, I beg to differ sir, in every respectable way possible. Previous attempts may have failed or may have been sabotaged, but, let me state this, no matter how many times we have failed, we must keep pushing. Rome, was not a proud of a day's labour. Gucci set up shop as far as 1921. T. M Lewin opened up shop in 1898. My point is this, the quality of our product will only increase and become better, but we must start."The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now".

You have provided some guidance, we will take cognizance of it for the future, but, I will not have you belittle Sen. Ben Murray Bruce, Sen. Saraki and others who are currently inciting the people to action, you should be doing much more, as the man with the royal ink!

This country is ours, and no matter how much more any man leaves for this children, his greatest gift to them, would be a country, for which they can die for, a country, they would proudly wear its emblem, like a knight in battle.

Today is the time, the hour and the moment for industrial revolution. There may be dearth of infrastructure, dearth of loans, but let us kindle this fire in the hearts of Nigerians, we will find a way to sustain it.

In all, this is a new age and a new turn for Nigeria. I am a believer, we shall overcome!

Fendi Ekene said...

Masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

God bless you sir. When I think of my country my heart skips. How can it ever get better in Nigeria? The problems we face is more cumbersome than we can ever imagine. Were do we start from? A lot of Naijans r filled with so much hate for one another. Each time I travel outta Nigeria I just wish my country n it's citizens can be like the pple I see elsewhere. I love my country. I wish things can get better. The pple in authority pls provide the special amenities we need to thrive. I will do my best as a citizen to uphold honor n glory. So help us Lord.

Anonymous said...

God bless you sir. When I think of my country my heart skips. How can it ever get better in Nigeria? The problems we face is more cumbersome than we can ever imagine. Were do we start from? A lot of Naijans r filled with so much hate for one another. Each time I travel outta Nigeria I just wish my country n it's citizens can be like the pple I see elsewhere. I love my country. I wish things can get better. The pple in authority pls provide the special amenities we need to thrive. I will do my best as a citizen to uphold honor n glory. So help us Lord.

OLA said...

That's cool

Bobby-joe Ogadu said...

Really serious observations raised, for once I agree with him. We should pay attention to standard and try to make sure materials are gotten locally to increase the value chain and overall income. Please and please Linda, publish my comment or we go fight

Juliet Iwuno said...

I never knew he could be so sensible. Linda take note!

Anonymous said...

You speak about Nissan and Toyota sourcing locally in Nigeria if you understand the automotive value chain you were trying to speak about you will know for cost efficiency a lot of the parts required to make a car are outsourced, please try to use your brain the world has moved away a long time from car manufacturers rolling in metal at one end of the factory and rolling out vehicles, manufacturing a car from scratch in Nigeria will be difficult as the companies to supply the complex parts simply don't exist. Also, as you said with capitalism, if Made in Nigeria goods want to continue displaying their products for sale in a rickety manner and also not package themselves properly, they have themselves to blame if they don't appeal to the Nigerians they wish to patronize them. Companies appeal to customers tastes not customers appealing to companies tastes.

mirian godson said...

How can we promote Naija made product when our leader cannot stay 3 days, jos 3 days in Nigeria without looking for one country or d oda to visit. Meanwhile he has never visited Aba, Nnewi etc.

Dilibe Omeh said...

Abati is better off a columnist, than a presidential spokesman... wonderful one..

9ja Parrot said...

Abati made a lot of sense with this article. But where were you and all these ideas during Jonathan regime?

Nkemy said...

His points are well illustrated and as he said these visions and strategies are right there before our very own eyes, but to infuse them into the system hmm..it will take more than being just a president to that. The SON have forgotten the mission of their organization, for me they are just an illusion and i agree with @anonymous if manufacturers of made in Nigerian goods do not make it at international standards because of lack of packaging etc then they have themselves to blame.

Adaobilinda her sexcellency said...

If only we can promote Naija products, it will be a better place in the nearest future.

Kingsley Amaefule said...

★★★★☆

I think he made a lot of sense, but did have to wait for the naira to plummet thus far before dropping his two pence?

Dude was part of the past administration but chose to play to the gallery instead.

Anyways, great idea in the end, but as the case has always been with Nigeria, proper implementation challenges will always be the inordinate cog on the wheels of development.

www saphacon.com

Anonymous said...

Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Nice...very nice

YULI INTERIOR said...

Yes we shall overcome. Nice write up. Like you wrote, it's all about building one step at a time. What we should do as entrepreneurs is strive to guarantee quality that is at par (or greater) with what you can get anywhere else in the world. This I believe should be the motto of every Nigerian entrepreneur. Quality trumps quantity anytime.

Bella Ghibe said...

Wow. Well said. Nigeria really has a long way to go.

9ja Parrot said...

But true talk be say the Naira is yo-yoing.

Bella Ghibe said...

Wow. Well said. Naija really has a long way to go.

Zinny_mama said...

well said if only our leaders will listen.

Zinny_mama said...

well said.

Zinny_mama said...

Well said if only our leaders can act as fast as possible.

Anonymous said...

Great piece..

Anonymous said...

Don't agree with you Reuben, when I was in Nigeria many years back and you were not in Government, I read your articles all the time, I prayed for people like you to get into Government. GEJ did the right thing, he put the best people in his Government to help our dear country but rather than help him, you all made corruption a part of you. I remember a close friend of mine who knows you well saying you had really changed. I have read this article, it makes sense, however Ben Murray Bruce makes better sense. We will get there, I am proud of my people, we are taking baby steps, I am not a fan of Buhari but I am supporting everybody who is trying to make our nation great again. You had those years in Government, you dined with GEJ, you had his ears, you would have pushed for all this, now they are just ideas, we don't need them, God had put you in a position to do all your suggesting but you threw it away for stomach infrastructures. I don't live in Nigeria, I will buy made in Nigeria bag to grow my economy, I will wear African prints to grow my economy, Nigeria will be great again. The wound is still so fresh as how you let us down. Keep your essays to yourself.

Charles Okoh said...

I think Mr. (or is now Chief) Rueben Agbati should leave economic strategies to the economist and focus on (sarcastic) public writings that we know him for. If innosson makes cars using 30% local raw materials or the shoes makers do the same the bottom line is that they both created value That can (and should) be exported to bring in the scarce forex Nigeria needs at this crucial time. Please be informed this situation applies in the crude oil you export. They are converted to refined petroleum products, lubricants, and insecticides and resold to you (re-imported) at a higher price. lets leave those creative Nigerians to display their vision for this country.

oKOH

Anonymous said...

Gbam

Ogbukwa Blessing said...

Nice article only if we can embrace ourselves with love and not hate

ayilara kayode john said...

interesting

Jessica Chidinma said...

Advice is better given when you are not in power. Why didn't you do all these you are advising now? We should be encouraged to buy more "made in Nigeria goods" even as we buy other imported goods. Commonsense should tell anybody that when we start producing and buying made in Nigeria goods: we import less thus less use of the dollar by Nigerians, we improve our economy,Local industries will no longer fold up and finally if these goods are of high quality we could export to other countries.If well managed,this "made in Nigeria" campaign could rack in exchange like crude oil did in the good ol' days. Commonsense is truly not common after all.

Anonymous said...

Sir, was this written yesterday? Show us where u documented this 2years ago. Oh its coming late from an intellectual like u

Tilda said...

Town crier does ur brain work? Learn to be respectful and objective. Did u even read through before opening ur mouth uncontrollably. Be mature abeg and stop disgracing urself

christiana christiana said...

It shall b well



#spritual

olumide sanni said...

Innoson and co are not made in Nigeria, they are assembled in Nigeria, there is nothing like made in Nigeria. We make nothing. The right question do we as Nigerians has mind set to manufacture goods? I agreed that Nigeria educational sector is not effective how about those they skul abroad Whr dere education is standard? To me our problem begins with ourselves if truely we want to start manufacturing good ryt from the scratch den we need to change our mindset and start reasoning like the western pple do.

Stella said...

The dwindling Naira (as a result of drop in crude oil prices) is a wake-up call to all Nigerians and I guess its the ONLY thing that needed to happen for the government see the need to promote R&D, inventions and innovations (and build infrastructures) to enable domestic production, which will in turn encourage Nigerians to buy Made In Nigeria "MIN" products!!!

udeh martha said...

interesting

FourthOfApril said...

Tell them!

FourthOfApril said...

Abati, since the phones have stopped ringing, you now have to stay relevant by putting yourself in our faces through your articles, hmmmn! Did you develop writer's block in the last five years or was it your desperation to rival Segun Adeniyi or build a house (according to OBJ) that stopped the flow of the creative juice in the immediate past? Ere Ogun odun, ase fi le omo lowo!

Anonymous said...

Ben Bruce's campaign is a starting point. The Nissan, Toyota or Versace of today did not become perfect overnight. If Producers are patronized, they will have the money to do more and get better as they go.

Don't make a simple solution look like an impossibility.

joy chilaka said...

our schools and factories have now become churches where people go and seek 4 miracles. Rubbish

3