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‘Lara Popoola: 4 Reasons Why the ‘Made in Nigeria’ Campaign May Be a Fallacy



Lara PopoolaFor a very long time, the Nigerian economy depended largely on its oil trade, an over-specialisation to the exclusion of all other natural resources. So, it is no surprise that the recent economic downturn birthed the ‘Made in Nigeria’ campaign, as a solution for economic restoration. At the heart of the campaign is a patriotic sentiment for Nigerians to patronise made-in-Nigeria products in order to revive the economy.

There are irrefutable obvious merits to this proposition, but my optimism was swiftly curbed when I began to consider how fundamentally deficient the country is to even embark on such a mission. Nigeria is a rich country enveloped in poverty, and unless the following deficits are addressed, the country will be following in the footsteps of the man who built his house upon the sand.

Infrastructure deficit
Nigeria currently has what I can only aptly refer to as a ‘decaying infrastructure’. Any country that is serious about becoming a world-class production and economic centre must firstly ensure to provide an enabling environment that will encourage its citizens and foreign investors to support and promote its objectives. Without a doubt, there are great production and manufacturing potentials across various sectors in Nigeria yet to be exploited, but without the basic infrastructures, such as good roads, constant power supply and efficient transport network needed for production companies to function efficiently and effectively, this campaign is simply farfetched.

Skills deficit
The impact of skills deficit on any economy is critical and even more so for Nigeria at a time when it is considering diversifying the economy from oil trade. This means that a variety of skills will be required in technology, engineering, digital, manufacturing and construction. So I ask, where are the young technicians that can build computers or engineers that can construct a modern railway system? The depletion of basic-essential skills in Nigeria is not due to a lack of formal education.
Whilst we may applaud the education system for its rigorous effort in impacting theoretical knowledge, albeit outdated, the system falls far short in providing adequate practical and technical training. I make no claims to have the answers to this problem, but it is apparent that the government, businesses and educators must begin to collaborate and agree on a progressive and sustainable strategy that creates a seamless synergy between theory and practical.
Nigeria must invest in her citizens to reap the economic benefits it desires. It must restore and create more vocational pathways to work, more apprenticeships and integration between the worlds of work and education. Unless we address this issue, skills deficit will debilitate productivity and delay economic recovery, especially for a country with an overwhelming young population. Why churn out graduates that are not prepared to meet the needs of the larger economy?

Cultural deficit
I have often heard people say “We Nigerians don’t value ourselves, we believe that whatever is foreign is better”. Of course, this is a generalisation that is unapologetically true for many. There is a distinctive preference for foreign goods simply because people want to be sure that they are exchanging their monies for quality products that are fit for purpose and perhaps Instagram worthy.
Unless you’re ready to exchange your Louboutin for Aba shoes, don’t say it ain’t true! Someone said to me recently, “We like to cut corners in this country even at the expense of people’s lives”. You only have to consider the number of accidents that occur annually due to systemic failures or negligence to establish the truth of this statement. Perhaps, when government officials stop traveling abroad for minor medical procedures, and invest in “Nigerian made doctors & hospitals”, this campaign can merit a serious discussion.

Consumer deficit
The main emphasis of this campaign so far has been on local consumption; the domestic market. Imagine if China only sold its products to the Chinese people. Apart from patriotic Nigerians who might feel obliged to support the economy, and patronise Nigeria made products, who else in the world will be buying? Amidst reports that many exported Nigerian goods are often rejected abroad for not complying with basic standards, I hesitate to guarantee that locally made goods will not fall short of international expectations. After all, the country is sluggishly awakening from a bed of mediocrity. Curtailing imported goods will mean local producers having little to no competition to compel them to develop to the level of perfection where they can be substituted for foreign alternatives

Yes, Rome was not built in a day and development is not automatic. However, the government should not compel a preference for sub-standard goods or services without a comprehensive analysis of its action plans. The Senate President should not just amend the Public Procurement Act, but also create laws and implement judicious policies that will steer the economy to success. I appreciate the fact that an attempt normally improves in subsequent trials, so let us endeavour to build with the right blocks on a solid foundation for a long lasting economy.
This campaign is worthy of all consideration, but it will be a fallacy if we don’t #FixNigeria.

When I’m not negotiating contracts from 9-5, I’m daydreaming about my next travel adventure, working on my podcast which will be launched in Jan 2018 and writing my first book. I love reading, teaching my Sunday school kids and spending time with friends - indulging in good food and conversation. I am passionate about young people having access to good education and currently serve as a School Governor in my local authority. I’m currently seeking opportunities to work with corporate and government organisations in Nigeria on social development, especially education. For now, you can contact me at [email protected]


  1. Soraya

    March 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Interesting and well written article! It is also cumbersome to set up a company in Nigeria and poor attitude from corporate affairs commission does not augur well

  2. A Real Nigerian

    March 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Wonderful article.
    But sadly, Nigeria can’t be fixed.
    No roads, no power, non-existent healthcare, a rapidly declining education system, a failing economy, zero security, a shamefully corrupt government and virtually everything bad.
    The trashy, wretch-inducing music and films people label “entertainment” in this country, their obsession with practising false religion, the gross stupidity of the youths on Nigerian social media today. Oh my!
    All these coupled with the fact that the almost 200 million people in this godforsaken country are either overwhelmingly stupid, superficial, ignorant, greedy and corrupt or a combination of two or more of these five foul qualities means that there is no hope for this nation.
    The Nigerian society is one run and populated by rotten, depreciated minds, one where mediocrity is accepted and encouraged. A society where children are led to believe that mediocrity is excellence even before they learn to walk.
    The standards of Nigerian men and women today are incredibly low. What is there to fix? Where do you even want to start?
    This is just a lawless, disgusting country that is now below the bottom of the barrel.
    So beta, so cringeworthy.

  3. Iya

    March 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    I like the points you raised in your article and I would like to add one thing – the average ‘made in Nigeria’ item is abysmally sub par!! I’m very patriotic. I genuinely want to ‘Buy Nigeria’ but how can I when I know that the item will fall to PIECES before I get the best use out of it? This isn’t because of any of the points you’ve raised but because of a very serious character deficiency in the average Nigerian. We want to cut corners with our ‘now-now’ ‘sharp-sharp’ mentality! It’s everywhere! From food, to cosmetics, to furniture. Even non-Nigerian artisans are a lot of times better to work with! I would love to hire a Nigerian mason but I would rather bring in some Ghanaian and Cameroonian ones because those guys FINISH WORK all day everyday and with little headache! Also, sometimes, buying Nigeria is more expensive for the consumer as opposed to buying foreign. Let’s be honest. A jar of say, body scrub from a Nigerian-owned cosmetic company is more expensive than one brought in from outside the country and I’m expected to still buy Nigeria when the cost is ridiculous??! I really do want to buy Nigeria but until all the mentioned problems are sorted, I’ll keep buying foreign, dollar increase or not.

    • A Real Nigerian

      March 7, 2016 at 7:25 pm


  4. Prince

    March 7, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Really good article. You nailed the issues currently bedevilling the country. So rich yet so poor.

  5. luvnaija

    March 7, 2016 at 8:11 pm


  6. ujay

    March 7, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Totally agree. Imagine trying to patronise a locally made Honey well packaged in a supermarket only to go home and realized it was all burnt sugar with a foul smell to it. I immediately returned it in exchange for the imported brand I normally buy. The made in Nigeria thing is even worse with consumables because we tend to aldulterate foods which will eventually harm the user.

    • mrs chidukane

      March 8, 2016 at 9:22 am

      I was just talking about this honey one yesterday. How there is honey in Nsukka yet we’re buying foreign because of cheats who want to pass sugar off as honey. State governments will never look for a way to create revenue in their state, all they know is how to tax already suffering citizens.

  7. Tosin

    March 7, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I want to love this, but can’t because i can’t love a list of all-problems-no-recommendation.

    Fastest way to shake up the economy is change the president. It will take three years. Please prove me wrong, it will be great to be wrong on this one.

    • mrs chidukane

      March 8, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Tosin when the President goes everything in Nigeria will improve? Infrastructure will come down from heaven and the average Nigerian’s attitude of cutting corners and over pricing will disappear? Wawu

    • Olan

      March 8, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Tosin, the points Lara raised WERE “recommentations”. Those are the things that need to be addressed. Iya and “A real Nigerian” also delved in with some great comments.

      As Nigerians we need realism – things aren’t good and haven’t been for a long time. Those things mentioned have been left unaddressed for too long – it’s not merely about changing those in power. Will Nigerians vote in people with progressive policies with the people at heart? Are there even any viable candidates out there?

      Love this article Lara!

  8. Bolla

    March 8, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Nice article but as much as Nigeria is rotten and what have you,I still believe in Nigeria and yes it may take time but the change we want to see begins from each one of us. God bless my country.

  9. Aanuolutomiwa

    March 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Tosin i disagree with the changing of the president, is it now that the problem start, it has been dere even b4 him
    by the way nice article

  10. 'Deola

    March 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Nice article. How I wish there were ways to turn these deficits to surpluses. With so much bigotry, corruption and with the commanding heights of the economy in the hands of a few individuals, I have no idea how government would be focused enough to impact the lives of the masses.

  11. witty debbie

    March 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm


  12. Patrick.G.

    March 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Great article. However, we have waited for donkey years for #FixNigeria. We ought to rise up and do the bit we can. In my opinion, the governments will not #FixNigeria if we the people don’t #FixNigeria. That is why sites like exists. When the governments see the response of the people (like in the previous elections) they are forced to act.

  13. molarah

    March 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    While we are waiting to #FixNigeria, the silent entrepreneurs are working, making their mark, breaking barriers, and smiling home to the bank.

    This message is for lazy people. If you like, keep waiting and don’t go out to start something.

  14. Kdot

    March 10, 2016 at 11:17 am

    A reality check is always needed before progress. Great article Lara. May God bless Nigeria

  15. Chu

    March 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    beautiful, you said all that was in my mind, but so much better.

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