I do not pretend to be an authority on the Economy, but as a passionate Nigerian, I can say WE (government included) all are the reason why the forex costs this much.
Let’s put aside some of the reasons we demand so much foreign currency in Nigeria. We have crude oil but sell it internationally, while importing the end products (that’s like having a palm kernel tree in your compound while ordering banga for your one akwu from overseas).
There’s also the case of Nigerians getting an education overseas because the quality of education in Nigeria is believed to be substandard and not globally competitive.
We have an appetite for all things foreign; clothes, shoes etc, going to India, America for medical treatment, holidaying in Seychelles, the Maldives over Akodo or Badagry etc.
Now I do not blame people who fall into the categories stated above; how, and on what, a person spends their earnings is personal and very subjective. However, I write this article in a bid to appeal to as many people as possible on the benefits of promoting PRODUCED in Nigeria goods and foodstuff.
Let me share a fun but serious fact. All the APC “Change” brooms were imported from other West African countries and not sourced locally. Even the many PDP umbrellas were imported from China. I wish I had verifiable data on how much the Asian markets grew as a result of the tee shirts, wrappers, kerosene stoves and the myriad of souvenirs procured by the political parties during last year’s election.
Why are we helping every other countries economy and killing ours? We import frozen chicken and even garri from Cotonou! Why do the foreign brands get better concession than homegrown brands such as Ebeano Supermarket, Ouch, Tinubu and Aba market tailors and cobblers etc?
There was a time when imported rice was a delicacy that was enjoyed only on Sunday afternoon or when you went to parties and the locally grown rice was handpicked at home and enjoyed more regularly. Now, imported rice is the most commonly eaten staple in Nigeria. When clueless about an appropriate gift to give a benefactor, we just send them bags of imported rice.
According to Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria imports $1trillion worth of foodstuff annually. Think of this $1tr as our investment with no returns in China, Cotonou, South Africa and a few other countries. Think about how much we could have ploughed back into the economy – if we enabled our farmers and bought even just half of it from local farmers in Nigeria. The average farmer will not make his money and repatriate it overseas; he’ll put it back into this economy and more people will benefit from it.
Nigerians, do you realise that every time you take your money and purchase that imported cereal or detergent, you are helping to grow the foreign country and not yours? Agreed, the quality of the locally produced say cornflakes can’t be compared to the foreign one, but do you know that you can demand the quality you desire from Nasco and the likes if you paid right. If Nasco earned the same 1,500 that you spent on that imported cornflakes, don’t you think they will be in a position to deliver the same quality or even better? It will be sad if Nasco goes moribund as the Vegfru Company in Gombe did.
Do you know that by buying local produce, even Boko Horam and the Niger Delta militants might drop the arms and go into farming? #possibilitiesareendless #youneverknow
Now I’m not saying don’t buy imported, all I’m saying is if there’s a local substitute, PLEASE go for it. Your constant demand for local produce will help the economy and improve everybody’s purchasing power.
There are so many dairy farms in the North, yet we buy imported yoghurt. Can our dairy farms not cater to our yoghurt needs and a portion of our milk and cheese needs? So you like peaches in your Yoghurt, can we please attempt to cultivate the peaches in Cross River or Jos? If not, by all means let’s import the peaches from abroad. The honey from Kaduna is darker and has more sediments than the oboe oyinbo one; can we teach the farmers ways to filter and remove the sediments and bottle it in mason jars and not plastic? This way, it can appeal to Nigerians with refined tastes and an eye for imported packaging.
Why are we allowing the foreign supermarket chains sell and we buy frozen French fries, frozen vegetables that have flown days and weeks to get to us. Can Plateau and Makurdi not meet that need, even 50%? Are FIRO and IITA not able to get us the variety that freezes well? By the way, yet another fact, Nigeria imports over N60b worth of French Fries annually!
This is the time to get the rails working.
This is the time to build that tree that will give shade to future generations.
This is the time to engage the over 3000 people who have lost their jobs in banking, aviation, the hundreds of thousands of youth who are unemployed.
This is the time for citizens to go into agriculture, this is the time for government to give citizens reasonable concessions and incentives to farmers producing for the domestic market by making subsidies, land, tractors, seedlings, cooling vans, storage facilities, grants etc This is the time to enable them produce for the nation.
A large portion of our 160 million people need to be employed and feed; every farmer can decide to target 100,000 people. This dependence on foreign goods has to be brought to a minimum!
Permit me to digress. A few months back Kenya destroyed a very large stock pile of ivory that were seized from poachers over the years. President Kenyatta said people had advised that instead of burning the Ivory in his bid to deter poachers, Kenya should have sold the tusks and developed herself from the proceeds. I personally think he made a good decision by burning the Ivory because when every ivory producing animal has been killed, what will happen to Kenya’s tourism industry. And that is why we as Nigerians must think of the long term impact of our actions.
Let government pass and ENFORCE the laws that mandates only items which cannot grow in Nigeria be imported. Let citizens boycott foreign ingredients that can be produced and stocked locally. Let government give incentives to citizens who own farms that cater to the local market.
We cannot control, or influence the looters of the national treasury who steal our monies and keep them in overseas accounts – inadvertently developing the overseas countries with their deposits; but, we can ensure that our personal hard-earned monies are kept in the system to improve our lives as citizens. This starts with buying as local as possible.
The change we are looking for starts with us as individuals (paraphrasing Gandhi). Let’s not wait for the Dollar to hit 1,000 Naira before we start doing things right. Let us make Nigeria great again.
Buy local. Eat Local!
Photo Credit: Kiosea39 | Dreamstime.com