From the executive to the legislature, ‘Made in Nigeria’ has suddenly become a popular chorus of the Buhari administration. Mind you, the mantra is an ‘empty rhetoric’ no matter what the potentials identified as viable means to change Nigeria’s mono-cultural state that depends wholly on a single commodity –oil.
How could that be?
Bolaji Akinola, CEO of Ships and Ports, asserted in an argument partly published by Punch Newspaper, January 27, that ‘Made in Nigeria’ is a charade. Sound and logical, the businessman argues: “The problem with the so-called buy made-in-Nigeria campaign is that it is neither rooted in policies nor in patriotic fervor.” Also noted, fervently, is that “the operating environment in the country mercilessly asphyxiates production.
Here, I’m interested in two lead points in which there is no disagreement upon their factorship in the failure of businesses, SMEs, and industrialization of Nigeria, at large. These are ‘policy’ and ‘operating environment’.
President Muhammadu Buhari, the head, has reiterated severally that the diversification of the economy remains a cardinal goal of his administration. ‘Made in Nigeria’, according to him, is the heart of the many efforts to lead Nigeria through the troubled times, and lay a firm foundation for the future. On the other hand at the legislature, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is also giving hope not only through economic reform legislations but mobilization strategies for local manufacturers.
Government policies are never consistent especially those that are not predicated on laws. This exactly is why the legislature plays the most fundamental roles in democracy. In this light, it is self-explanatory that the National Assembly has more responsibility as far as ‘Made in Nigeria’ success is concerned. Bearing this in mind, a quick assessment of how the eighth Assembly has addressed laws surrounding the ease (and unease) of doing business in the country could not but give increased hopes.
It is not just happening for the first time, YES. Recession has been the greatest economics teacher of Nigeria. In 1978, when the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo had to wrestle recession, it introduced an economic reform package given the term: Austerity Measures. This reformation was completely carried out through the muscle of BUY MADE IN NIGERIA GOODS order. The bold action became a standing order that was fully obeyed by all tiers and sectors of government who were compelled to patronize only Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria (PAN) or Volkswagen of Nigeria (VON) cars. Furthermore, all imported goods [that were locally producible] were banned. As such, Nigerian products became the public and government’s popular demand. The flow of dollars abroad was curtailed. The economy was revived. In essence, the concept worked out well!
If words by the Buhari administration are altruistically matched by required actions, there’s no reason why ‘Made in Nigeria’ cannot work, today.
It is plausible, however, that perpetual infrastructural decline continues to trounce business survival and success chances to date. On this, it is only thoughtful that we equally continue to demand improvements at all fronts. Implying, otherwise, that the efforts to revive the economy through industrialization are outright shams will rather heap insult on injury. It is needless to say that as we continue to demand good governance, the success of the country should be taken as a collective task.
Let the government get its policies righter; laws geared towards industrialisation while implementation is optimally guaranteed; producers imbibe the culture of novelty; citizens (led by political elites) subvert their hunger for imported goods for local alternatives… the Nigerian economy will be great again.
Akorede Shakir is a Masters candidate at the Department of International Relations, Cyprus International University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @akorive001