There is a growing campaign in Nigeria at the moment seeking to promote made-in-Nigeria goods. What is responsible for the preference for foreign goods by
Nigerians? NGOZI NWANKWO examines the situation in this analysis.

 

NIGERIA is one of the biggest consumers
of foreign goods with a per capita gross
national product surpassing many West
African countries. Just few days ago,
group of furniture makers cried out
how high rate of importation of foreign
furniture into the country had led to
decline in demand of the locally made.
Mr. Ajayi Nurudeen, a furniture maker
revealed that the effect of low patronage
of furniture discourages youths from
venturing into craft jobs that will make
them self reliant. He also blamed leaders
adding that they are no way helping
indigenous manufacturers as they prefer
foreign products to local products and
making local product unable to compete
in the market.
“Nigerian both rich and poor, including
political leaders prefer foreign products
such as furniture, building materials,
electronics, wears, foods and many other
due to the belief that Nigeria produces
substandard product; yet, they have
not come up with the idea of funding
or investing in indigenous companies
in order to promote manufacturing
industries”, Nurudeen said.
In the same vein, some dealers in of
building materials at Jabi told expressed
dismay over the cluster of imported
building materials that occupied more
than half of the local market making
it uneasy for home dealers to break
even in the market, despite the federal
government’s claim of localising
materials used in building in the country
to reduce cost and promote indigenous
companies involved in the production of
such materials.
It will be recalled that during
Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, the
federal government increased tariff on
importation of rice to discourage high
rate of imported rice into the country,
yet today, Nigeria is still rank the second
largest rice imported country.
In a report from the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development indicated that Nigeria spends N1 billion daily
on the importation of rice. This translates to
N365 billion a year. Not minding the huge
lose Nigeria is incurring as a result of food
importation, many people still prefer foreign
foods to local ones. But relevant questions
everyone needs to ask is: what went wrong
with Nigerian products? Or does it mean
Nigerians want to remain dependent to other
countries for every of her need?
It is very much true that Nigeria can enjoy
thriving manufacturing industry and a
vibrant economy if they are buying home
made products. And buying home made
products creates jobs and grow the economy
instead of relying on foreign goods especially
on made in UK and China. Sometime ago, the
Ministry of Trade and Investment disclosed
its intention to revamp the nation’s industries
which is the key to economic progress. But
achieving this may be far- fetching if the need
to create enabling environment to market
home made products is dampened.
It is worrisome to note that Nigerians’
appetite for foreign made products keep
increasing on a regular basis. Being an
import-dependent economy, the country
remains the highest among those patronising
substandard products. Nigerians are part
of the problem as they patronize fake and
substandard products which they find
relatively cheap. This patronage is indirectly
killing the local industries and by extension
endangering lives.
Reacting to why Nigerians prefer foreign
made products, Mr. David Obiuruaka, a
businessman in Wuse Market of Abuja said
because most Nigerians regard Nigerian
culture as an inferior to the Western world, so
all products from the west are superior goods
to Nigeria goods.
“With the habit of the Nigerians towards
locally produced goods, most businessmen
in the quest to make money prefer to
showcase made in U.K and China in their
shops to attract buyers. And in so doing,
they are promoting other countries products
and causing dumping of goods in Nigeria
market”, Obiuruaka added.
For Kenneth Joshua, a student of Bida
Polytechnic, who came to buy a pair of shoes
in one of the make-shift shops in Kubwa, the
problem of Nigerians is lack of patriotism. He
disclosed even government officials, traders
and consumers are not patriotic enough to
promote Nigerian made goods, so everybody
prefers foreign goods even though it costlier
than homemade. “I like Nigerian products
because they are affordable and sometimes
of higher quality too. For instance, I bought
Aba-made shoes that lasted for six years
and homemade belt which I bought since
2009 that still in use till date. These goods
are affordable and attractive as well”, Joshua
said.
Findings have revealed that the reason
for China’s boom has been attributed to
an enabling environment, infrastructure
and electricity. Besides, the cost of labour is
cheap so, many find it convenient to produce
in China. The big manufacturers have
established their factories there to increase
profit. That is why made-in-China goods
have continued to gain grounds not just in
Nigeria but in several parts of the world.
They can be found in most leading shopping
malls around the world.
While some people like Collins Adache,
a civil servant attributed the reason for
low patronage of Nigerian products to low
quality goods. He said: “Nigerians products
are substandard not that Nigerians cannot
produce to compete with the industrial world
but because producers lack funding from the
government.
In Adeche’s speech, he cited that Nigeria
is far away from industrialisation, its
producers cannot easily asses bank for loans,
adding that the case is different from China
who is today one of the leading economy
where her manufacturer will easily obtain
loan from the bank and when the person
incurs loss, he will not have to pay back the
money.
Among many Nigerians who expressed
their concerned over the unfavorable state
of the local products, over 45 percent said
lack of infrastructures such as power supply,
good road, water have to a large extent
hinder the operations of the manufactures
and any effort gear towards producing with
a low price and standard goods always
proved futile.
It is also believe that if government invents
in local made products, they will be no point
for dumping in a local market. Dumping
is borne out of incentive foreign a country
enjoys from its government to promote
export of goods to other countries in other
to boost its international generates revenue.
But Samuel Ogidi, an economist plainly
said except federal government deals with
corruption and lack of political will, nation
will continue experience low patronage.
Counteracting the call for patronage of local
products made by Abia State Governor,
Theodore Orji, and Ogidi said if there is no
regulation in the manufacturing industries
there will still be substandard of goods even
though they are subsidized. “Even if Federal
Government subsidizes Aba shoes without
regulating the industry by giving them
the ‘export quality’ some of them for with
hunger to make quick money will still dwell
in inferior or substandard goods.” Ogidi
explained
Imports of goods and services have played
a major role in the economic development
of sub-Saharan countries. The capacity of
Nigeria to produce capital and consumer
goods is limited and so there is heavy
dependence on imports from the developed
countries. The negative effect is seen in drop
of nations GDP.
To save Nigeria industries from fierce
competition, government should intervene,
because free market dictates which product
people should buy and in most cases, their
choices are not in favour of home made
products. There should be a bit restriction
to those goods that Nigeria can equally
has cost effect to avoid dumping and also
create enabling environment for local
manufacturers to sell both locally and
internationally.
It is very much true that Nigeria can enjoy
thriving manufacturing industry and a
vibrant economy if they are buying home
made products. And buying home made
products creates jobs and grow the economy
instead of relying on foreign goods.


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