Eighth Senate made yet another history last week when it passed into law a bill to re-enact the Public Procurement Act, 2007 (Amendment) Bill 2016, which seeks to promote local content and ensure speedy completion of projects in the country.
Passage of the bill, which makes it mandatory for government agencies to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods, followed the adoption of a report by the Senate Committee on Public Procurement after it passed third reading.
It is a known fact that many Nigerians still have appetite and patronise foreign products despite the fall of the naira and the confirmation that most locally produced goods are of high quality, safe and durable than imported ones. A very good example of this is electrical products, leather and edible products among others.
Commenting after the bill’s passage, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the new amendments to the act would help stimulate the economy, adding that priority must be given to local goods for the country to develop.
‎”In stimulating our economy, we all have a role to play to ensure that the executive complies, especially in the area of giving first priority to locally-produced goods. We all have a role to play in ensuring that the Executive complies, especially in the area of giving first priority to locally produced goods.
“One of the things that we have done today is to shorten the process of awarding contracts; this will go a long way in helping budget implementation. It would go a long way in ensuring that most of the funds are available as quickly as possible and jobs are actually completed. I want to commend my colleagues for passing this bill‎”.
In arriving at the passage, the Senate president had requested that the upper legislative chamber dissolve into a committee of the whole for clause by clause consideration on the report after it was presented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Procurement, Joshua Dariye (PDP Plateau Central).
Senator Dariye said “The bill for an Act to amend the Public Procurement Act to provide for and adopt a local content policy and timely completion of Procurement Processes and Other Related Matter, when assented to, will give priority to local manufacturers in all government procurements and address the problem of projects abandonment across the country.’’
According to him, the bill seeks to amend Section 15(1) of the Act by inserting additional clauses that would close the gap created by the Act “as we have witnessed in the recent arms procurement saga”.
Dariye explained that “the issue of disposal which is an integral aspect of procurement has been aptly captured by the amendment in the new sub-clause 1(e)”.
“The committee equally sustained the amendments of Section 34(1, 2) sought by the bill for the purpose of patronising made in Nigeria goods: this will go a long way in encouraging our Nigerian manufacturers.
“The amendment proposed by the bill in Section 35 is to review upwards the mobilisation fee from 15 percent to 25 percent that may be paid to a supplier or contractor. This is aimed at enhancing timely completion of procurement processes at various phases,” the chairman stressed.
The step taken by the Senate, according to a cross-section of Nigerians, remains one of the ways to encourage the patronage of local products. They believe that without such step, many Nigerians would continue to have preference for foreign goods at the expense of local ones.
According to Mrs. Racheal Uche, a petty trader, “Nigerians can be encouraged to patronise made-in-Nigeria products if government or the authorities in charge ensure that locally made goods are durable and of high quality. Government needs to also work on encouraging the exportation of more locally made goods than importing foreign products”.
She was of the opinion that if the Adire (Tie & Dye) cloth being produced in the South-West is exported, it will yield high patronage across the world.
Another Nigerian, Emmanuel Baba, however, said there are several measures that need to be met in order to boost the patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products. He urged the government to improve trade free zones in the country, reduce taxation on companies that manufacture locally made goods and boost electricity which he described as an important commodity.
Baba also maintained that without electricity, companies cannot function effectively, adding that long-term and short term loans should be provided for companies. Similarly, he stressed the need to improve on the nation’s transportation system “because without good road networks and functionality of the railway how will goods be transferred from one location to the other? Without the production of quality products how will there be patronage?”
Sebastine Okoro said Nigerians will be encouraged to buy Made-in-Nigeria products if proper campaign and awareness are made on the benefits of its patronage, especially at this time when the naira has fallen against the foreign currency.
“Nigeria is an import dependent country and we really need to start producing some of our own products. I like what the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, did in terms of restricting foreign exchange to some items which can be produced locally, that was a good start because we need to find other means of producing our own goods, but there are some items in the list which should not have been restricted.
“Government should also help in equipping and providing support and loans to these manufacturers if need be so that they can produce quality products which Nigerians will buy, thereby promoting locally made goods. Uniqueness of the brand should also come to play,” he said.
The CBN had urged Nigerians to be more patriotic by patronising locally manufactured goods so as to preserve foreign exchange reserves and strengthen the naira.
Deputy Governor (Corporate Services), CBN, Bayo Adelabu, stated this recently when members of the House of Representatives Committee of Banking and Currency paid him a courtesy visit. “What the CBN is saying is that we need to become more patriotic. We should patronise locally made goods and services. We do not need to import everything. That is part of the reasons we are seeing pressure on the naira. Why should we be importing fruits, eggs and tooth picks?
“The decision of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, was the best we could do under the circumstance that the economy is presently,” Adelabu added.
Therefore, millions of Nigerians were excited, especially local manufacturers when the Upper House passed such an important bill into law.
Earlier in the year, the federal government had promised its continued support for the development of indigenous businesses to make production of local materials profitable.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, who spoke during the inauguration of Made-in-Nigeria Tomoto Paste Factory, Erisco Foods Limited, in Lagos, said the current economic reality calls for a decisive policy thrust to address issues.
“The major concern of government is to continue to make policies and reforms, as well as stabilise economic fundamentals and also provide the necessary infrastructural platforms for industries to thrive on,” Lawal, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs Office, Mr. Williams Alo, said.
He assured that “Government will continue to intervene in policy formulation toward protecting our national interest and in the process, provide a conducive atmosphere that will make production attractive and worth engaging.’’
On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said Nigeria imports 150 million tonnes of concentrated tomatoes worth N170 million annually.
Enelamah, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Aminu Bisala, said the local production of tomato paste would save Nigeria huge foreign exchange and create employment for its teeming population.
Also, wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, urged Nigerians to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods, so as to create employment and strengthen the economy. According to her, the need to patronise Nigerian goods had become necessary as it would encourage the production of local farm products and improve the health of citizens.
Mrs. Buhari, who inaugurated the Erisco Company, also urged manufacturing companies to emulate it by using locally available raw materials to produce their goods to ensure economic development.
There is no denying the fact that previous administrations had made several efforts to encourage Nigerians to patronise locally produced goods, but it yielded little results.
At the third Practical Nigerian Content Forum, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan said local patronage would make the evolution of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, a reality.
The then Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said no country had moved from being a poor nation to a rich one by importing raw materials without a strong industrial base.
Aganga, who was represented by the ministry’s Director of Legal Services, Uju Hassan-Baba, said local content had been given prominence in line with the transformation agenda of the Jonathan administration.
He said the ministry was working with industries to enhance their productivity and improve the quality of their products to significantly reduce importation of substandard goods.
Aganga said his ministry had re-designed and re-launched the “Buy Naija, Create Jobs” campaign to encourage local procurement of supplies, services and other requirements in order to increase local output and employment level.
“We know that we must nurture new industries, supported by government incentives until they grow strong enough to withstand international competition.
“These are the reasons we have taken time to develop the NIRP, learning from the experiences of countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea among others. NIRP is Nigeria’s first strategic, holistic, comprehensive and integrated roadmap to industrialisation,” he stressed.