Plunging Naira – Before You Blame Emefiele Look At Yourself

It is either I do not understand economics and how exchange rates work or a vast majority of us Nigerians still don’t get how we have wrecked our country with our own curious choices. Just this morning I was listening to the radio and the lady on air went on and on about how she…


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It is either I do not understand economics and how exchange rates work or a vast majority of us Nigerians still don’t get how we have wrecked our country with our own curious choices. Just this morning I was listening to the radio and the lady on air went on and on about how she thought CBN governor Godwin Emefiele was incompetent and should be sacked because the naira was now exchanging at 309 or so to the USD. That view pretty much echoes the sentiments expressed by many people I know and it amazes me that there are Nigerians who actually think there is some magic POLICY that can make the Naira strong in the near term. If my economics and my understanding of the way the world works are right, then that is as far from the truth as Jesus Christ is black.

The simple fact of the matter is that apart from oil that accounts for over 90% of our revenues, we really don’t have much of an economy. We hardly produce anything, we import even toothpicks, so exactly what policy is going to be implemented that will turn Nigeria into a top exporting economy in the near term? Where are our Apples, IBMs, Disneys, GMs, General Electrics, Coca Colas, Empire State buildings, Statues of Liberties, Lockheeds, Citibanks, JP Morgans, ExxonMobils, NBAs, Super Bowls etc? Let me bring that closer home. There was a time long ago when Nigeria had a truly strong economy and the naira was one to the dollar – even exchanged for higher than the USD, but that Nigeria is not this Nigeria. Sadly that Nigeria was laid by the British, and this Nigeria (if you don’t believe in the nonsensical imperialist conspiracies like me) – fueled by the DAMAGING Indigenisation Decree, has been the creation of us Nigerians.Back then we had a booming economy.

We were either the top, or among the top exporters, of timbre, cocoa, groundnuts, rubber, palm oil, etc, in the world. Nigerians not only holidayed at home in their villages, at Yankari Games Reserve, at Obudu Cattle Ranch, at Oguta Lake, at Ikogosi springs, at Gurara Falls, at Mambilla Platueau, etc, we attracted international tourists who brought in loads of foreign exchange. Even Nigerian schools were foreign exchange earners because they attracted foreign students. We had different car assembly plants – Peugeot, Volkswagen, Anamco etc. Nigerian government officials only bought vehicles assembled in Nigeria for official cars. We had a thriving sports industry.

We were not Man United or Chelsea fans, we were Rangers or IICC fans. We had the Nduka Odizors, people made money from sports. We also had companies like Lennards and Bata producing school shoes in their thousands, we had the thriving Nigerian Airways and the Aviation School in the north that produced some of the best pilots in the world. In those days if you were brilliant you were respected much more than the crass money-miss-road contractors of today. Most of the Aje Butters I knew had fathers who were university dons. Back then it meant something to ‘know book’. Our textile industry was alive and well. Just recently I watched a news report on the textile industry in Nigeria on CCTV News. Though the main focus was on the comatose status of the industry, I was stunned by the gigantic Kaduna Textile Mill built in 1957. I could go on and on.

Today however, no thanks to our parents (and we must call them out the way Wole Soyinka did his generation) and many of us (and we should be remembered for failing our children if we continue like this), we have destroyed everything. Today for instance Nigerian football (which comes easy to me obviously) doesn’t appeal to us, we have to fly across thousands of miles to watch ‘our’ clubs play. Every year we collectively burn billions of Naira being fans of clubs that give us nothing back, but some ‘entertainment value’ – simple pleasures for which we are ready to destroy the future of our children. Well people, payback time is here. Even with our ta-she-re money we all want to wear designer clothes and carry designer bags, Armani, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton etc.

We all want to drive jeeps with American specs, our children must now school overseas and acquire the necessary accents to come back home and bamboozle their ‘bush and crass’ contemporaries that they left behind. Who holidays in Nigeria anymore, is there Disneyland here? No one buys made-in-Nigeria school bags for their children, after all no Superman or Incredible Hulk or Cinderella on them. We are no longer top exporters of anything and the demise of oil means we have zilch… zero. A country of 170m fashion-conscious people has no textile industry. We take delight in showing how our made-in-Switzerland Aso Ebi is different class to everyone else’s. When we help our musicians grow and pay them millions, they repay us by immediately shipping the monies overseas to produce their “i-don-dey-different-level”music videos. It makes no difference that distinctly Zulu dancers are dancing to a Nigerian highlife song. As stars concerned they also wed and holiday overseas to impress us all. All the musicians who acknowledge their Ajegunle roots now speak in a cocktail of strange accents to symbolise how much they have blown their monies overseas.

Were we a more serious people, the highly popular Kingsway Stores of the past would probably have a thousand outlets pan Nigeria today supporting a massive agriculture industry among others, but today we have the likes of SPAR, Shoprite, dominating the retail industry while Kingsway is dead. And we Nigerians make it a special point to shop from the Oyinbos who have ‘cleaner shops’, ‘better this and better that’. For our personal pleasure we don’t mind them dominating us in our own backyard and shipping proceeds overseas.

I could go on and on, but I don tire. Even as you are reading this, stop for a moment and look around you. What you see will probably explain why we are lucky it is not N1000 to the USD yet. And don’t think for a moment that it cannot get there. Just continue to wear your Armani gear and Swiss-made lace, continue to spend your money on Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Barca and encourage your children to do same. (My article tomorrow in my Saturday column in This Day is on the Nigerian champions Enyimba FC – Nigeria’s most successful club – not having a sponsor, yet Nigerian brands pay over N600m to Man United and Arsenal for sponsorship to impress us.) Ehhh, no problem, continue to tell me the NPFL is rubbish or the clubs should clean up their act if they want sponsorship, mo gbo. Don’t curtail your interest in choice wines ( we were the number one champagne consumers in the world in 2015), continue to love your American specs, cheer the education ministry for letting schools sink to pitiable levels, don’t fight them to improve our schools, don’t chide them for letting schools drop Nigerian history and embrace British, America and whatever else curricula.

Carry on with your love of French wines and Chinese silk, don’t bother about Jamiu Alli when there is Roger Federer. Stock up on your Italian, American, British products which you cannot live without, including the ‘baby soft’ toilet rolls produced only in that small unique village in England – the days are long gone since you were a broke student who used wet newspapers to wipe your butt. Don’t even consider holidaying in Nigeria, it’s too dangerous – you have to fulfill your dream of being Nigeria’s Henry Ford. Don’t listen to people like me who have a wardrobe full of only cheap adire that is actually cheaper than just one of your Tom Ford blazers. Please keep dressing in fine silk made in some exotic place so you can be addressed accordingly. Finally keep letting corrupt leaders who have looted your commonwealth and shipped all the monies overseas get away because to attack them does not fit your political narrative. Let us continue with the fine life, let us all continue to work for Oyinbo. But don’t forget that there is payback time and Emefiele is not your problem. Time for us all to look in the mirror and take responsibility.

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  1. Debo
    Anything truer than this about Nigeria is a lie …. and you’re not even scratching the surface yet.

    Should the government just close the border and force us to do all these things internally?

    And time is going o. Let’s forget calling out our parents, what’s the action plan for our generation? We’re about to fail the country worse than our parents did. What should we do?

  2. Buchi
    Nice write up (although similar undertones as the Republicans’ fear politics). Its necessary though and I agree with almost everything you espouse here. However, I don’t think you should be calling us out on football. I’m in Sales, and I know for a fact the average human is irresistible to a properly packaged and Marketed brand/product, and we gotta admit that the EPL/UCL is at least that.
    P.S, a lot of Nigerians are actually making a living from it, and here in Nigeria too, with viewing centers and Jersey sales, etc (Yes all the while still enriching the coffers of the said clubs), but I’m sure we can tag that one as a necessary evil. Does not stop us from supporting our own however).
      1. Buchi
        Agree with you Ma, however, reduce it to percentages and need, and you’ll find out that it’s serving similar/related purposes for both the corporate organization that sponsors, and the average Joe (or is it Jimoh in this case?) running the viewing centre’s in Nigeria.
  3. Larz
    “It is far from the truth like Jesus is black”. I really hate this saying. There is a stronger chance that Jesus is more black than white and blond with blue eyes. Or at least Arab looking…

    Will be back when am done reading

    1. Olayinka
      Larz, let’s not go there.. We all know the possibility is extreme. A black Nazarite? But at least we surely know he’s not Caucasian with blue eyes and long hair.
  4. Dharmmie
    This is the truest it can get! I tell People that Nigerians are the problems of Nigeria but the kind of people we are, we prefer to shift the blame; on the governors, senators, and other national officials. We refuse to blame ourselves, the commoners. These same people who will rather go for an Italian red wine than take our nutritious Zobo, will say Nigeria has no economy. Made in Nigeria products will thrive if only Nigerians will patronize them. We have the population and that is the reason foreign companies keep trooping down to Nigeria.

    However, we also need enabling environment for some of these business and manufacturing companies to thrive. If we have a good locally produced commodity that is price friendly, I want to believe Nigerians will patronize. But when most of the local products are substandard, how does one deal with that? In the case of few that are good, they are sometimes expensive than the imported one. Same reason Kashi (minister of petroleum state) said it is more expensive to refine our oil here than to import the finished product. Nigeria’s problem is rather multifaceted.

    1. Larz
      But a true enterprenuer wants to be rewarded. Imagine going through all the trouble to make correct nutritional, nicely packaged zobo and ppl look down on it and are unwilling to pay good price for ordinary zobo made in Nigeria. Dont you think such a person might decide instead to be a distributor instead of fine wine and charge more mark up for it whilst doing considerably less work?

      People get what they want. Nigerians dont want made in Nigerian product not becuz of quality but becuz of the status they are trying to project.

      1. thetoolsman
        Which is what the writer is saying. If we ban Ribena for instance or berry blast or whatever, tell me why people wont drink locally produced zobo? And if not, we can also insist Ribena produce using locally sourced materials. It’s that simple.
        1. Larz
          People will smuggle them in at an even higher rate.

          I remember people wanted to kill themselves when Obasanjo asked for importation of rice and I think textile prints to be restricted. My recollection of the full details is a little hazy. All I remember though is that, this didn’t led to increase in ofada / other local rice or more adire. The prices of these commodities just went up instead. Your average Nigerian family (at least in Lagos/ Ogun State) didnt switch to local produce that was expected

          1. thetoolsman
            Thats why we need to be strategic about it. Force is needed because we are special, but force with strategy. When OBJ banned rice, infact, today, they say we produce about 200k metric tonnes of rice but the truth is, it’s just about 65k and thats a drop in an ocean compared to what we consume (I think we consume about N1billion worth/week – not sure). What they should have done is put a plan in place for a 3-5 year period and slowly reduce importation while providing support to local farmers to increase production.
  5. Nelo
    Me am doing something o! My wardrobe will welcome clothes from my tailors this year. Honestly, looking at a gown I bought for 132 dollars (to attend a wedding), am wondering who jazzed me. Never again!
    But then, I have not seen the Nigerian version of Olay soap and St. Ives lotion. Will switch when I find good substitutes.
    1. Toby
      Try shea butter. I buy mine from my village, and I don’t use anything else. Also, coconut oil, although that’s been more difficult for me to get. (I’m assuming you’re in Nigeria, where these things are made locally.) All these creams emphasize that they have shea butter, so why not use the main ingredient? You could add a few drops of the fancy lotions or essential oil for fragrance.

      As for soap, I have no answer. 🙂

  6. Larz
    You are right.

    What it boils down to is that Nigeria is a consumer and not a producer. Even when we had oil, we werent producing them then. It is quite unfortunate. I was speaking to a friend recently about commodity trading and he spoke to top countries in Africa that imports some of the stuff he traded in (mostly Agricultural products). Unfortunately, the giant of Africa was not a lead supplier.

    Due to our highly competitive nature (i better pass my neighbour), I really dont think this will stop anytime soon unless the govt places some serious barrier to foreign trading. And God bless anyone that attempts that.

    1. Jibbs
      Let’s leave Nigeria at the macroscopic level, let’s focus on we individual Nigerians at the microscopic level. How many of us are actually producers of goods or commodities, but oh do we love to consume!! (me included). There is an urgent need for a change in that mindset
  7. Okija woman
    This is why I prefer eating bread with local peanut butter to Nutella…cheap and healthier.

    But then, before you start to make us feel guilty for not patronizing our own, there should be affordable and quality alternatives to these foreign products. Only then should the govt think of imposing crazy import duties or enforcing a ban on imported goods. I remember Obasanjo did something similar to rice importation and frozen chickens but because the locally produced ones are not enough to serve our ever growing population, we find ourselves still importing rice and what have you.

    1. thetoolsman
      Many people get this wrong. There has to be demand before supply. No one will set up a peanut butter production company if he/she is not guaranteed of sales. No bank will finance something speculative either. When countries find themselves in such situations, you need to take hard drastic decisions (e.g the forex policies). Ofcourse things will be tough a little at the beginning but nothing good comes easy. On rice, look at my response to Larz above. No nation is self sustaining, we still need to compromise on some stuff. But the ones we can easily produce, nothing should stop us.
      1. Itua
        That’s where I disagree with you. Entrepreneurs are not lacking demand. People want bread, not imported bread. They want tomato puree, not imported tomato puree. They will buy what is cheap and well made. The problem is not that there is no demand for made in Nigeria, the problem is that it is economically unwise to produce in Nigeria vs. import.
        1. thetoolsman
          And this is where I disagree with you. You can’t adopt a broad approach here and say it is “economically unwise to produce in Nigeria” .. The right statement should be “it is economically unwise to produce certain items in Nigeria” Yes, that I agree and this is why I have said there has to be some strategy behind our policies.

          If it was economically unwise to produce tomato paste in Nigeria, why didn’t the two largest manufacturers leave after it was banned? They simply started sourcing tomatoes locally. Same for fish and poultry. It is also not economically unwise to produce rice in Nigeria – there is already demand – we consume 200k metric tonnes daily. But those with the resources to construct mills overnight won’t see the need to if them can just import and still make their money – until a government policy mandates them to. However, you can say it is economically unwise to produce tyres in Nigeria because of the massive requirement for power. Thats why Dunlop moved to Ghana but then again, give me Dunlop and I will raise you a Guiness with Orijin as an example of those who’re still profitable in this market despite the so called tough terrain.

          Our economy is practically dead. Yes, the CBN can help SMEs by working to lower interest rates on loans so these SMEs have funds to acquire assets to enable them produce to meet some of these areas with demand but till then, we all depend on the very few who already have these resources, and the only way to “strong arm” them into looking inwards is through such strict policies pending the time we fix our economy/country well enough that doing business will be easier for almost anyone.

          1. Itua
            I agree with most of what you’ve said here. I don’t believe in a completely free market economy; we need government intervention. But we need smart, strategic government intervention, and that is not what is currently happening. What is happening is military style strong arm tactics and blanket policies which are unnecessary and counter-productive.

            I think the initial point I was making has been missed. Nigerians are not to blame for not wanting to buy Nigerian. It is not our fault, as Kenneth attempted to establish, that the naira is not strong. The government cannot force demand for locally made products. If the government wants to strong-arm anyone, they should strong arm Ministry of Works or whoever into setting up the infrastructure to allow indigenous products compete favourably with imports in terms of price. Meanwhile, devalue the naira and make it a no-brainer for people to stop importing. What will happen is that the items that can’t be produced here will be imported anyway, while those than can be made here, will. Because it will then be more profitable for them to do so.

  8. yettie
    I have read so many articles of recent calling on us nigerians to wake up and smell the coffee
    My own is….let’s move from talk talk to action biko
    Naso e dey start oh…at what point are we going to start acting on all the wrongs and doing the right thing
    1. Debo
      It at least shows that we’re on the right track. Maybe you’re the Messiah we’ve been waiting for. Make the first move from talk to action. What would you do?
  9. jules
    As a parent to 3 young children, I am guilty of quite a number of the transgressions depicted above, but would I do it any differently? The answer is no. Not till I can find edible locally made substitutes for Kellogg’s Coco Pops or made in Nigeria pyjamas that can last a year of rigorous wear. I for one do not patronise foreign made products to feel among, but because quite honestly they are better. I care not for packaging, the contents matter more to me. Case in point, I dare anyone to argue that there isn’t a difference between locally made Digestive, Hobnobs biscuits and the imported ones. The issues at hand are greater than what the writer delves into. Diversification of our economy is our only saving grace.
    1. JADE
      Idnt Nasco cornflakes made in nigeria? and i daresay it is completely edible, and i am sure in the market there are good night wears that can withstand rigorous wear.
      1. stubborn geh
        Abeg you can’t compare. Nasco really? Has that cereal ever stabbed the roof of your mouth before or your gums? Abeg don’t compare.
        1. Aarinolaoluwa
          Nasco ?!!! NAH! I had to go to the dentist one time after a grain of corn got stuck in between my teeth. OMO!! the pain was real!! .. Since then, NEVER AGAIN. But INFINITY cornflakes is ok and made in Nigeria. They have something like coco pops, which isn’t bad. GOODMORNING cornflakes is ok too..
    2. Larz
      I beg to differ esp with the coco pops example you gave. That thing is poison! A lot of enlightened family in West are looking for ways to minimise of even stop feeding their children than junk. I remember drinking tapioca and ogi as a child. at least you know what you are getting with those, some manufacturer out there did not decide to help you add a gazillion spoons of sugar that you wouldnt dare add yourself.

      Tapioca / ogi with moin moin / akara or yam and egg is much healthier and more balanced than a bowl of sugar we serve our children nowadays

      1. Dafididafidi
        I totally agree with you ogi and moi moi is fantastic. However I miss Ewa agonyin and yam which I used to have every morning when I was in Surulere
    3. Dafididafidi
      Believe it or not whenever I go buy cornflakes I buy NASCO cornflakes not that it is better than Kellogg’s or the pos u talked about buy because it is Made in Nigeria and I believe by buying it I keep a Nigerian Employed not an Oyinbo and this is despite the fact that I was born bread and buttered in England. I think the first step is be PATRIOTIC. My wife eats imported digestives and hobnobs and all that stuff but I always insist on nigerian cabin biscuit for myself
      1. stubborn geh
        See ehn being patriotic goes far beyond cabin and nasco. The truth you may have failed to notice is if you hated the taste of the cabin (which tastes like sawdust by the way) you won’t be eating it.
        I think we’re missing the point of this article though.
        I for one won’t eat rubbish in the name of patriotism. If the product is made in Nigeria and its up to par, I will use it. Otherwise, you’ll have to forgive my unpatriotic choice to take oyinbo Mcvities with the tea I made with peak Holland.
        1. DafidiDafidi
          Well I suppose that by the time there is nothing to trade with to even get the foreign exchange with which you use to buy mcvites “biscuits” then I suppose you will start eating the made in Nigeria “saw dust ” or support the indystry for its improvement or better still set up an industry that will make mcvites in Nigeria. However as I presume that the mcvites is not a eat or die food meaning that its not essential then maybe we could leave off it for a while and use the foreign exchange to import something that is essential and will get Nigerians employed in Nigeria
    4. Olayinka
      I don’t know about you but a lot of Turkey and India made products we splash money on have proved to be substandard. Buy ordinary pant and in 2 days a loose wool at the side and the whole thing tears away slowly. Clothes nko? Except you’re buying designers that come at such ridiculously expensive prices.
  10. JADE
    Do you know Nigeria loses #1 billion per year i wasted tomatoes? In the peak of the season, these farmers have millions of baskets of tomatoes to sell, but no export, no industry regulation, no proper means of preservation and a bulk of it all goes to waste until the next year. With manufacturing, exports and tourism, Nigeria’s economy will never be the same.
    1. Larz
      Tomatoes that could have been canned and exported around the world. Such a shame.

      Or alternatively, the wasted foods cud have been used to create and export manure

    2. Buchi
      This right here.

      This past year, in Benue State, I saw some rural farmers pleading with a transporter, to buy a basket of Tomatoes at N50. To my chagrin, He still argued and bought it for less. Mindblowingly (is that even a word?), there is a defunct tomato factory a few km away. Nope, make that two. Now, if you have ever spent time in Benue State, you’d know how pitiably close to base line the poverty level is.

      1. Davidson
        I have spent time in benue and I dare say benue state can indeed be the food basket of the nation if the system is put right. There’s a goldmine in Agriculture laying waste in benue state.
    1. Theresa
      Hi Joachim,

      Hogwash? What is?

      I’m looking forward to your comment. The one you’d start from beginning and stop at the end.

      Let’s share this knowledge.

  11. Toby
    I’m happy to see a few dissenting comments. When I read this earlier, I was wondering whether we were all in the same Nigeria.
    The article has truth in it, but the problems raised are multifaceted, as someone pointed out.

    Okay, so I’m supposed to have everything home-grown. This works for some items, but not for others. Let me use rice, mentioned up-thread, as an example. I don’t have a taste preference for local rice as against imported rice, but I’ve given up on local rice for one reason: There’s no local rice I’ve bought that didn’t have stones in it. Even the ones touted as “de-stoned”, surprise! Why should I suffer to get money to buy food, and then have to do extra work, because I’m being…patriotic? Is that why the economy should be made more difficult?

    I bought a pair of wedge shoes that were made in Nigeria. I didn’t even get to the occasion I was headed for, before the top of the shoe completely separated from the heel. I just turned around and went back home.

    Our present culture of importing everything is bad, I agree. Pointing accusing fingers at people who just want to spend their money on well-made things is not going to help our economy.

    This doesn’t take away the fact that local businesses are really suffering, having to fund and power themselves. Like I said, multi-faceted.

    1. Raymond
      I believe this comment reveals the underlying problem the post seeks to address. Sadly it is somewhat catch 22. As Tula has said in a comment above, No local investor would enter a market dominated by foreign products if he is not guaranteed local patronage to atleast break even. To invest in threshing and polishing facilities and still have your “local rice” ignored by consumers would kill any (wo)man. Now the producer needs physical evidence of patronage before he can put in more money to improve the quality of his products. You the buyer needs improved quality products before you can begin to patronize these producers. Something is gottta give obviously.

      This is why the writer and some contributors are advocating a graduated program backed by government policy and implementation. We will get there eventually. The first bales of rice produced in England and Malaysia had stones in them! Their industries have had years of evolution and growth to get to the point they are at today. We must give our industry the chance to grow too or else we will suffer for it in the long run.

      “Why should I suffer to get money to buy food, and then have to do extra work, because I’m being…patriotic”

      ask instead, “Why shouldn’t I suffer for the sake of being patriotic today, so my country will develop to the point that my children will never consider patriotism as suffering.”

      1. Albee
        Both of you (Toby and Raymond) have made very valid points.
        But quite frankly, if you go through the trouble of making a shoe, you should know a good quality glue to use; you’d be excused if you had to import that glue ;-D . (Many made in Nigeria shoes and slippers are of extremely good quality). But the fact really is that many Nigerian producers don’t put much thought/effort into making their products good or durable. They focus on the quick buck… or probably look to the repair fee to drive repeat business (lol). This is not saying we should not patronize made-in-Nigeria; far from it. I’m just saying that quality can be improved in most things without much increase in cost. Besides, wont that cost just be passed on the consumer???
        Another point: Quite frankly, I am one of those people who HATE sand in my mouth. So, I will really buy imported rice till local is of good quality. Do you know the funny thing? Local rice (and I am not talking about the factory produced rice) is more expensive. I bought a bag of foreign rice two days to Christmas at N5,800. I went with someone who bought a tin of local rice in January at N4,000! (Even if you are not familiar with local measurements, I believe I don’t have to explicitly say a tin is not more than — if up to — half a bag). The point here is that we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. If early European rice had stones and now they don’t, it means they have produced machines to destone the rice. So If you are a serious rice producer, buy the damn machines. It will guarantee your market! Someone compared Kellogg’s and Nasco Corn Flakes earlier. I don’t know if that person has tried them both, but Nasco often burn their flakes! Not to talk about how they don’t soak water much. (Think eating Indomie Noodles soaked in water.) The thrust of my argument is just that making things acceptable in quality is not so much more expensive. Our producers should get serious and try it. They are often the authors of their demise (not that uncle from the village).
        Something the Government can do to help is get SON to do their work. About two years ago, I saw cement electric poles with an SON stamp that broke as they were being offloaded from the vehicle… the had been reinforced with aluminum wire (electric cables!) and not iron rods. I have pictures!
        Talking about textile, do you know that if a textile company was guaranteed contracts to supply Uniforms for our armed forces alone, that would guarantee their success for decades.
        I hope you get from my arguments that I do consume Nigerian as well, but really, it is often FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!
  12. Joe
    Quality control and quality assurance. Most, if not all products made in Nigeria do not undergo any of these. Sort out quality, sort out power and maybe something can change.
  13. Odogwu
    As you rightly said we have nothing apart from oil to export, this is partly due to the unwillingness of our government to kickstart other viable areas of the economy, for instance most states just wait for federal allocation of the revenue gotten from oil rather than investing in alternative sources of revenue generation like the agricultural, Argo allied, textile, entertainment and manufacturing industries
  14. Aanu
    What a load of sanctimonious drivel this is. There are merits to the writer’s arguments about our consumption of foreign goods but it is way more multifaceted than the black and white version he portrays in the article.

    Nigerians – at least the ones who work hard for their money – don’t spend massive amounts on imported goods just because they want to show off, it is because these things are simply better. Take the example of the wedge shoes stated above. Why work hard for money and then buy something inferior because we’re supposed to be patriotic?

    Why should Nigerian companies sponsor the NPFL, a league dogged by crowd violence, referee beatings and allegations of match fixing (or confirmed match fixings as was the case a couple of years ago in the 69-0 match)?

    It’s also amusing how, in this piece, the Nigerian government (present and past) gets away with the years of endemic corruption that crippled local production. Did Nigerians just wake up one day to decide they wanted to live the Oyinbo lifestyle? The Yankari Game Reserve and other national treasures are in a state of disrepair because of years of neglect from the government agencies responsible keeping them in shape. You bet Nigerians will visit these places if they’re in good condition. How come there’s no mention of the Obudu Cattle Ranch, or does that not fit his narrative?

    We’re all complicit in the state of our economy but to almost absolve the authorities of any blame while shifting blame on the common man is incredibly one-eyed, and reads something straight from a government propaganda handbook. Yes, let’s close all our borders and eat locally produced rice infested with stones and what not.

    I’m sure the writer’s phone/laptop/tablet are all locally made.

    1. Raymond
      “to almost absolve the authorities of any blame” Kindly enlighten us on the blame which should have been heaped on “the authourities” in your opinion.” Seeing as the writer did not absolve “the authourities” from the ills identified. for instance;

      ” Finally keep letting corrupt leaders who have looted your commonwealth and shipped all the monies overseas get away because to attack them does not fit your political narrative”

      “cheer the education ministry for letting schools sink to pitiable levels, don’t fight them to improve our schools”

      Furthermore this false dichotomy needs to be addressed. The people ARE the Government and the Government IS the people! Its even those in power that consume more foreign than local compared to the “common man” you refer to. If anything the writer has added more to the list of charges against the “authourities”… in my opinion.

    2. thetoolsman
      “We’re all complicit in the state of our economy”
      I’m glad you mentioned that. Yes, the writer was very simplistic in his approach to this. However this does not mean he did not put some very valid points forward. Obviously his piece was a rant and if we are all being honest, you sometimes stretch things when you rant so I’ll forgive him but somethings are clear. No one is leaving out the government (past and present) of this mess. Corruption, nepotism, mismanagement etc from them also contributed to how we got here. Also, no one is saying you MUST buy things that are inferior all because of patriotism.

      But whether we like to admit it or not, for whatever reason, over the years, we have grown an almost insatiable thirst for foreign things even in instances where we have reasonable locally produced alternatives (or where we have the capacity to produce these alternatives) A good example is tomato paste – it was on the list of items the government banned importation last year. Prior to that ban, I think there were only two manufacturers in Nigeria and they sourced their raw materials externally. After the ban, they started sourcing locally and since then, I’ve heard there are two new players constructing production factories. More farmers are now planting tomatoes.

      In this instance, we not only have tomatoes rotting away in this country yearly, we have the arable land to plant more but it took a bit of “force” to get us to realise this. Great example right? Well, as good as force is, if not implemented with strategy, it can be catastrophic. An example is OBJ’s ban on rice. Which was stupid. How can a nation that says it produces 200k metric tonnes of rice (actual is 65k) and imports N1billion worth daily suddenly ban importation. Where will the deficit come from? In that instance, strategy should have been added to “force” and maybe come up with a timeline and gradually reduce the quantity we import annually while also helping local producers improve capacity.

      Now, it is easy to apply logic and say we need to improve and develop certain areas and then demand will automatically come but when things are this bad, you need drastic measures and one could be to flip things around by creating demand and then helping people develop locally to meet these demands. So maybe by using policies like the CBN’s new forex policies or banning importation of certain items. Thats “Force” with some strategy behind it but again, I stress, that this should only be done in areas where we already have capacity to produce locally.

      And this brings me to your final point on the writer’s laptop being locally made. Please tell me one nation in the world that is absolutely self-sufficient. Where they absolutely do not buy anything from any other country. Not even the mighty China – I think Norway is on top of the list. And so, the point of all of this is not to shut our borders completely and force us to be self sufficient. We don’t manufacture laptops and the cold truth is we probably won’t manufacture in many years no matter how things improve in Nigeria. No need to fuss over that.

      In conclusion, what we all need to realise is no where in history was such drastic change from 3rd world to anything better achieved without some form of strain. China partly closed their borders and looked inwards, Singapore did same and a lot of the privileged (Serious minority by the way. Only 2.5million middle class in Nigeria) made noise which is what you and some others are doing here. No one wants to undergo any form of strain for something not guaranteed – makes sense. But it’s either we do it now or never. Those wedges you complained about, over 100 million Nigerians will gladly buy it and continue to give their money to the manufacturer until they get it right. Remember when those “China” phones used to be loud and annoying, if their people didn’t continue buying, how would they have developed into what they are today. I recently joked about not hearing ridiculously loud China phones anymore and guess what, those companies are now opening up in Nigeria and other African countries. So in conclusion, I hear you. We all do. Just like you, I really don’t want to strain myself for Nigeria when nothing is guaranteed but if our parents didn’t and we don’t who will?

      1. Ebunoluwa Dawodu
        The ‘producers’ of tomato purée here import the purée in bulk and only package them here… I know this for a fact as a banker who handles documentation for some of these companies importation…..

        Yes we have an insatiable taste for all things western but what are the alternatives? What is the solution to this ‘mindset’? To me, it still lies in our government! To me, an average Nigerian is proud to me Nigerian…we need a focused and concerted approach to fan the embers of that pride to push local consumption and this has to be centralized and supported with the enabling environment for industry to thrive. This way we can revive all our moribund industries and prices of the items will be affordable as compared to imported stuff and everyone will automatically fine their levels – thiose who purchase to belong will continue to go for the imported more expensive stuff while those who just want value for money will spend according to their pockets. This I believe was the idea behind the ‘Andrew’ advert which was aired by the government in the 80’s.

        How can we all as a people all of a sudden just want imported things to validate ourselves? It’s definitely not as simple as that. What percentage of Nigerians can even afford all those things you talk about – Swiss laces, flying out to watch their clubs, imported rice Etc.. Are we aware of the level of poverty here? If the masses find locally produced rice widely available and much more affordable than the imported ones, they will buy. Right now for instance, in my mom’s little suburb, imported rice ranges from N300-N350 per Mudi while local rice is N250 per mudu – in my opinion, if it were N100 per mudu, no one wld stock the imported rice cos no one wld buy!

        So, there are too many issues oh but for me we need a government that will recognize them and act to cause a change and that includes asking people to patronize made-in-Nigeria amongst other things!

          1. Ebunoluwa Dawodu
            That may well be the case but they’re still in the minority. But I agree we need a re-orientation and like I alluded to in my response, this must be led by government. And yes, I know that we are the government and the government is us, so we need to fight more to put the right people in place – that, I can agree is where we can make the difference.
          2. seryxme
            “…so we need to fight more to put the right people in place – that, I can agree is where we can make the difference.”

            Long and short of my story story here since. I’m afraid if we keep getting comfortable patronising foreign products because they are quality, nothing will change. And the cycle of people who keep getting into power without the urgency to act will continue because, at least, the foreign alternative is there and the people are buying and not complaining. Yet we know our economy isn’t going to be viable this way.

    3. Toby
      Thank you, this is what I’m trying to say.
      The article came off really one-sided, and it put a lot of blame on people who are just trying to get by.

      To everyone in this thread: I actually do not disagree with the article, or The Toolsman’s views. The example of asoebi made in Switzerland is galling to me, because I know the treasures that can be found in Balogun market. However, I refuse to accept this responsibility for the collapse of the economy because I import things that will last long and make me happy. Like someone said upthread, I cannot eat rubbish (or wear rubbish) in the name of patriotism.

      If there are local alternatives that are of acceptable quality, I think people will patronize them, within the limits of personal tastes. Locally made items would even be cheaper and less stressful to obtain than foreign goods.

      Nobody gets to tell people to not have nice things. It’s difficult for people to choose having substandard products in the name of patriotism.

      Banning importation without having a well-defined and publicly broadcast strategy to improve the quantity and quality of manufacturing is a really bad plan. So far, we’re seeing only the stick, we haven’t seen the carrot. There should be a timeline of improved local production, as well as possible incentives to promote buying local.

      It there’s a solid plan in place, I think most people would be willing to suffer for a while, with the hope that it will get better. There was a lot of goodwill when the new government came in, which could have been used to put the strategy in place, easing us into tightening our belts, instead of plunging us into austerity.

  15. George
    I disagree with the author on one and one specific score-trying to exonerate the CBN governor from blame.

    Like he opined at the start of the article I totally agree with him that he does not understand Economics.

    You cannot use microeconomic policies to manage the macroeconomy.

    I wish I can engage him on this…

  16. Oluwatosin Olaseinde
    No doubt the slide in oil prices is an issue
    But there are other ways to manage the exchange rate problem
    To ensure a smooth transition that will lead to the diversification of the foreign exchange income

    It’s not as simplistic as you pointed out.

    Did you know, South Africa is intensive on manufacturing and adding value to its produce , however, its currency is under attack due to it being a commodity resource nation.

    For instance
    Look at the GDP it is highly diversified the services sector accounting for ~50% of it
    That is the real estate, financial services and telcos

    Save for the telecommunications sector that foreign players are the key participants
    The financial sector is dominated by Nigerians
    The e-commerce space (with exeception of Jumia)
    The informal market retail is larger than all the shoprite combined just that it’s more organised.
    We can get a local player trailing that spot, Ebeano, but remember it is treading in a relatively new zone compared to Shoprite and Wal-Mart with 100 of years of experience and capital to flood the market

    We have some locally grown projects

    Notwithstanding we need to look for how to earn foreign currency and manage the demand and supply for it.

    Let me take you away from the oil for a bit, last year, Nigeria earned $77 billion in oil revenue, guess what, we lost a relative amount from the capital market.

    How do you create an economic environment that attracts foreign currency and retains it?

    How do you leverage the resources (pension fund, sovereign wealth fund) at home to build inindustries on our terms and condition?

    The biggest issue now is stabilising the Naira while we proceed on the transition

    The Naira has been exacerbated to levels that’s avoidable if the right monetary policies were employed.
    We did not need be at N305
    Maybe at N235 if the currency was promptly devalued to rreduce reflect is true value, to not stifle the supply market and not aggravate an exit putting further pressure on the Naira.

    1. thetoolsman
      Just to chip in. You spoke about the services sector having locally grown projects. On the surface yes. But we need to dig deeper. The informal market retailers, what constitutes majority of the products they are selling? Locally made products? Hell nah.

      Even the financial sector you spoke about, yes, they may be Nigerians on the surface but if we are being honest, we know the origin of the wealth of some of the major players in the industry and we all know how they invest the bulk of their wealth outside the country. On the other questions you asked, please refer to my comment above.

    2. George
      I couldn´t agree more with you especially your last point about monetary policy.

      I keep telling people the CBN governor is no economist. It was his nonsensical policies that exacerbated the current situation. I have always insisted we devalue our currency. We can´t live beyond our means. This might be a touch late but the best policy is still to devalue.

      We are living a huge lie just look at the difference between the parallel and official rates. Once more I insist you can not control the macroeconomy with silly micro policies.

  17. seryxme
    Maybe we all just read and digest this differently but I don’t think the writer was trying to exonerate anyone and that’s the point, I think. It has gotten to the point where the arguments and accusations of the failing economy has been placed solely on the government and we, as a people, have failed to acknowledge our part in it. There are lots of little things we do that create the situation we’re in over a long period. This is what the discussion is about. We’re at a point where many people don’t even think anything good can come out of Nigeria. For me, the starting point will always be for us to discern where the issues lie from the grassroots to the top and address accordingly.

    Someone said in the comments, “…the producer needs physical evidence of patronage before he can put in more money to improve the quality of his products. You the buyer need improved quality products before you can begin to patronize these producers. Something is gotta give obviously.” Yes, the dilemma may not be as simple as this in the whole picture of our economic environment but it will still come down to this eventually. For instance, there are mentions of local products that are quality enough to compete with the foreign alternatives, but we still do not patronise them. Chances are that the lady who buys Olay has come across Dudu Osun at some point but doesn’t even think about it twice. Articles like create a consciousness about these things. I agree that naturally less patronage of local products is a function of quality and you can’t blame the consumers for wanting quality for their money but we need to erase the thought that only foreign products are quality.

    And there’s the consideration of preference. Some people like a particular type of product or brand than another. That is no problem. But many are buying stuff, not because of preference, but because they’re foreign and ‘foreign is always better than local’. Yes, the article blankets the accusation on everyone but I think this are the people it really focused on.

    I don’t know why there is surprise about the state of the Naira now when the past government admit to giving the it some ‘support’ to stabilise it at N160 to the dollar. Now we cannot afford the ‘support’ again, there has to be some consequence. All boils down to the viability of the economy.

    And one point I like – “Finally keep letting corrupt leaders who have looted your commonwealth and shipped all the monies overseas get away because to attack them does not fit your political narrative.” God help us without a (nearly) bloody revolution to revamp this country. It’s like we need a clean slate. A start from the scratch.

    Question: Who/what killed Kingsway Stores?

  18. Toby
    Differences of opinion aside, this article is the bomb. I haven’t been this invested in a website’s comments section in a while. So many smart and funny people, with valid and deep opinions. Kudos to TNC and the author Kenneth Ezaga.
  19. ebuoe
    “(My article tomorrow in my Saturday column in This Day is on the Nigerian champions Enyimba FC – Nigeria’s most successful club – not having a sponsor, yet Nigerian brands pay over N600m to Man United and Arsenal for sponsorship to impress us.) Ehhh, no problem, continue to tell me the NPFL is rubbish or the clubs should clean up their act if they want sponsorship”

    lool , they shouldn’t clean up their acts , they should remain the same , oneday business owners would sponsor them out of sentiment 🙂

  20. ebuoe
    So much I want to say about this article , but I dont have the time right now , to summarise sha :

    Nigerian government at every level must invest seriously in all our failed industries and have them working at optimal level , because without functioning industries , policies won’t do jack shit.

    Nigerian entrepreneurs/manufacturers/service providers must do their best to deliver world class products and services , expecting people to patronize you out of patriotism (sympathy) is not a smart business model even worse is calling on the government to ban everything “bannable” for your business to survive.

    The writer painted a clear picture of Nigeria’s problems but he made it look like the fault of the masses in his last paragraph, people won’t just dumb down to support the Nigerian market out of sentiments , no government policy can do that either , their has to be a process , one which must start from the government , because without the government creating a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive , we won’t get the type of growth/development we seek , at most we will have a handful of individuals who(depending on their industry) would make breakthroughs , but sadly that would never be enough

    1. Toby
      This has been my stance. The article made it seem like it was the fault of the masses, and I cannot accept that blame. Providing a conducive environment for quality products to be manufactured is the government’s job, and the we cannot be expected to patronize shoddy businesses and products out of patriotism.
  21. Eyo
    Am so impressed with this article not to sound like an over enthusiast… but I think of the opportunities we create for all these Indians and white people every single time i go to park and shop or shoprite, opportunities we would not create for our fellow Nigerians, the most annoying one is when stupid Nigerians try to do things no single foreigner will do for you when you visit his county like helping them pass obviously restricted places. Naturally Nigerians don’t appreciate standards and excellence so I think that is what is also affecting the economy, so that is why home-grown business don’t rise, they simply just flourish in the first few months or years of operation and once the customer base grows that is exactly when attitude sets in and the staff starts insulting and treating the customer that comes to buy just a single item anyway they want. Mr Biggs is a testimony to this, so when Mr Biggs first came ooh it was merry, now its just trash and this is because the franchise managers are not all that particular about the standard of the brand just cash. If we started demanding quality and standard services and Nigerian businesses also take the time to deliver such services we just might get revived
  22. Remimah
    As true as this piece is, it is a very cynical. I love it though!

    I want to answer one question asked: what policy Nigeria can implemet that can change the Naira’s freefall. I believe the answer is simple and unpleasant. We have to ban ALL imports in ALL ramifications and FORCE local production. This WILL create a domino effect that will be unprecedented; even if it takes more than 5 years to see the benefits. The world is a global village and trends abound but we can copy (if not create) some of these trends. We heard how China sent spys to copy the latest innovations in all spheres of the American/European life and how they went back home to create them. If we must copy, let us copy. But let us produce OUR own copies and that will ENSURE that the economy strenghtens and the naira stabilizes and improves. Until then, we are in trouble!

  23. Mike
    The article is brilliant. The cynicsm can some across as harsh but the bottom line is that Buhari alone won’t fix the country..actually he can’t. Only the people can

    The top 20 football clubs in the world generated over 2 billion euros in revenue last year. Some of this came from dstv subscriptions by Nigerians. How can a South African company have exclusive rights to show footage to Nigerians and we support them with our hard earned money?

    At some point we have to decide if we want to support Nigeria or not. Its a choice. Nigeria cant get better economically if people don’t engage locally. In Britain people buy British made even though its more expensive and not necessarily better quality.

    Nigerians my generation have been blaming the government ever since I can remember but that has not changed anything. We are smart and intelligent people, very educated too. That’s not enough though. We need to decide to support local industries. When we do this we surprise ourselves.

    Finally let me finish by giving a controversial example. Our Churches. Thankfully we still support our churches. We have some of the most successful churches anywhere in the world. (your religious affiliation not withstanding, this point stands). What if we supported our local industries the way we have supported the churches. We could build great businesses and industries. It is doable But it wont happen till our generation decide that Nigeria is worth the hassle else in another 200 years our grandkids will still be blaming the unfortunate guy who is president

  24. Annie
    EVERYONE should read “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell. That’s all I’m going to say to this.

    Except to say that even the first few chapters will more than adequately address the problems with this post.

    It has completely changed the way I look at economics, and specifically Nigeria’s economy. *Thanks again, Feyi*

    You guys, just read the book. Then come back and read this post again. In fact just read chapter one. you’ll be okay…

    1. Tess
      Very engaging article and the comments have been really informative. I understand what the writer’s point of view and I do agree with alot of his points. We all have a role to play in making our country’s economy great. We can make little sacrifices in our own little ways in a bid to be more patriotic. You don’t have to wear badly constructed shoes or wear substandard pyjamas.. We can all find small ways to encourage locally produced goods. No effort is too small. Hopefully, with time our ‘made in Nigeria’ products will be worthy competition. We have to do something to save Nigeria for our children and grandchildren.
  25. Mona
    Most thought provoking post I have read in awhile. Nigerians destroyed Nigeria and only Nigerians can salvage what’s left. It may already be too late. May black Jesus forgive us all.
  26. Stephen
    I must admit, this is the first time I’ve read a post & adjourning comments from the first to the last & seen how people (Nigerians) intelligently approach the daunting issues rather than insulting one another & the government. This goes to show that we can really do the right things if the right precedence is set. I still believe that the economic revolution can only begin when the government decides to kick start it. Kudos to the author of the piece.
  27. Dotun Oyeyemi
    The writer of this piece must as a matter of necessity contest for elections come 2019. You referenced OBJ and acknpledged he made genuine efforts. Now imagine, if he was never in power ?

    We can’t make progress as a nation if we don’t have bright minds like you in power. We all can write, speak, advocate etc. But the truth is the bulk stops at the table of people in leadership positions. Everything falls and rises on Leadership.

    Nigeria and indeed Africa lacks visionary leaders. That’s our major headache o. Our best brains have reduced themselves to commentators while we have clueless and witch hunters in power.

    May God help us.

  28. Bayo
    I like the responses to this article, yes the writer has shown that Nigerians “turned away” from locally made products and other services but did not share why they did that and how the situation could be resolved. I will give the readers here a simple list of things I was able to compile off head.

    1. The Glory days of Nigerian airways and the subsequent death of that airline because Nigerians patronised foreign airlines right? Has everyone forgotten that it was the Nigerian government agencies that ran down that airline in the first place? fast forward to the new generation. Which one of us here has not been affected by Arik and/or aero contractor delays at the airport? with no explanation given, no compensation,no nothing! What about the pictures circulating now of broken seats (fixed with tape), no in-flight entertainment,no AC until you 10 mins into the flight? which foreign airline treats its customers this way? NONE! and this is a private airline oh not government! What happened to the Government agencies that were supposed to fine and regulate this sort of behaviour?

    Truth is we Nigerians have a problem with hospitality, cleanliness and service that simple! Thats why i can come back from Dubai into our supposedly new terminal and it stinks literally of Poop! i guess the toilets don’t work anymore, this is despite all the airport taxes they charge us oh, they still cant fix the escalator (the one in Shoprite works oh), clean the toilets,get the AC to work or assign more than 3 or 4 customs guys to attend to 300 passengers even though there are 20 desks available. Who is to blame here? the Government!

    2. To ban or not to ban rice? the truth is we don’t have a variety of choice, I personally like ofaa rice but i can’t eat it all the time, it takes to long to cook and has a strong smell that doesn’t go well with anything other than Nigerian food. Now i keep on hearing about this “new Nigerian rice” in the market but i’ve never seen it. I personally don’t know whether it is more Ofada? or another variety but if we have not learnt or do not produce the strains of rice that we currently import like long grain etc. Then the policy will fail! simply because you cannot deny the people choice all in the name of patriotism the communist countries all tried that (Russia, china, Cuba, former eastern europe) and failed miserably!.

    3. Lack of Industrialisation: I think the problem with Nigeria is that no one especially the government really thinks about manufacturing and the provision of incentives whether loans, subsidies for diesel,extremely high tariffs (temporarily) for importers of locally produced products, knowledge bases/think-tanks to guide would be investors into the industry etc. This is the realm of the government! they say we are importing tooth-picks but they don’t give me any incentive to setup a factory to produce one. When you setup the factory they slap a hundred taxes and “fees” for all sorts of things that you do not use before you start production. Then they tax your lorries everywhere from your factory, through every estate collecting money, every police officer on the way collecting his own share basically they tax you so much that when your done the cost at market is so much more than what your customers paid for the imported one. So as a consumer which one would you choose? This my friends is the responsibility of the government to fix. Even this new government of change has not said anything strong about promoting industries. So how are we supposed to just transform a nation of traders over night to industrialists?

    3. So much hype about exporting raw materials: I have heard people say over and over again about we exported cocoa, palm oil, timber, ground-nuts bla bla bla. The fact is i don’t think we ever exported any manufactured products and there is no rich country on this earth today that has gotten rich by exporting raw commodities alone (save the gulf states with large oil resources and tiny populations) so i don’t think telling people to go back and export groundnut is the way forward. It will not give you the billions you seek, only knowledge/value based products can do that.

    4. A successful Government Policy: as for Government incentives, i remember a time when Nigerians used to import tons of fruit juice: five-alive, just juice you name it to the tune of millions of dollars. Obasanjo’s government banned the imports and i believe setup policies to encourage local manufacturers of the juice, then relaxed the ban. Now our fruit juice is competitive not only do we drink it locally, you will see it on foreign airlines visiting/leaving Nigeria (they don’t bring their own anymore) and we only really import the ones we cant make locally like cranberry juice or grape juice. That is what has to be repeated across all sector where we have an advantage. The CBN and the government know the currency flows in/out of the country and are in a better position to inform the public what they should get into and provide incentives to do this! which would help reduce our dollar usage and gradually turn us to a nation of value adders and not just consumers. So yes we do have a share to blame but the main chunk of it is to the Government.

    1. seryxme
      I’d go out on a limb and stretch this a bit maybe you can find some more relevance in this article. We’re getting too comfortable with the purchase of foreign products.

      I’m not really economically inclined in the general sense so I did pick up the recommended book in the comments above, “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell, and I read the first 20-something pages. Very fine points and a recommended read for everyone. What I found in those early pages is simple enough to drive the counter-argument home. Government should creative an atmosphere for competitive pricing and the people will change their habits. If local production is encouraged so much so that quality is no longer a problem and pricing is competitive with the foreign counterparts, people will naturally shift gear and switch to the local products because pricing dictates so. It’s a straightforward process.

      But then again, “the people are the government and the government is the people”. If the policy making responsibility rests with people who don’t see much wrong with foreign products dominating the local ones then things won’t move. If the mindset keeps going the way it is, more people will keep having less faith in our local productions. If anything, this article will wake up a few people to the fact that our local industries are worth reviving. I mentioned earlier that the person that purchases Olay may have passed by Dudu Osun many times before without as much as a look-in. We as a people should keep our awareness about supporting good local businesses. We’re losing that. We’re getting too comfortable with the preference for foreign products that it’s becoming instinctive and this will continue to put us in danger, if not now, then in the future.

      1. Annie
        Not being ‘economically inclined’ was the exact reason why all I did was recommend the book. Lol. Reading it has helped me make a lot of sense out of what’s happening in Nigeria today. The next step for me is to understand it all enough to hopefully create solutions.

        I really hope everyone finds a way to read it too.

      1. thetoolsman
        You should read this if you haven’t:

        This bit stuck with me:
        Foreign pension funds have taken the leap of faith with mouth watering rewards, in spite of our attitudes. They have taken the risks and earned the rewards. It seems to me that if we wait for rewards to be assured without confronting the risks which we ourselves create it puts us in a position that I can only describe this way: “should we sell Nigeria or own Nigeria?”

  29. Nelo
    Knowledge is Power. As a corper, I used to travel from Asaba to Onitsha just to buy one foreign spaghetti ( can’t remember the name ) until a friend dashed me 2 packets of Dangote spaghetti. Wallahi! There was no difference in taste. That was the end of Asaba – Onitsha journeys. Today,I buy Dangote spaghetti in cartons (try eating a combo of spaghetti and beans – Thank me later). We need to make a conscious effort to redeem the Nigerian economy. For those of us who are salary earners, something must give, else………..wahala go dey. My St.Ives lotion is about to finish. Am now torn between buying another one at its new 50% price increase(my salary never increase o) or using Venusskin toning lotion produced by our own dear PZ Cussons. If i search hard enough , am sure i will find quality substitutes for at least 60% of the foreign products i consume. The choice is ours. If you don’t care about patriotism and have the cash to waste, by all means,
    indulge yourself.
    Toby, when next you buy that wedge, have it sown all round. This keeps the shoe repairer employed too. God bless Nigeria.
    1. Uju Ayalogu
      It is the little things that count. I have a skin condition so I try to restrict my soaps and creams to purely hypoallergenic ones. And I used to use the 1 litre Sebamed till the day the price increased by 2000. I decided to switch to liquid black soap (I don’t use bar soaps, they irritate my skin). Apart from the discomfort at the beginning I love it now. Best part- I’m making a Ghanaian man rich. If you know a Nigerian who is registered and sells great quality liquid black soap, please let me know. It is the discomfort at the beginning that causes some of us to shy away from certain things. I’ve been thinking actually of simply melting Shea butter and cocoa butter together and using it as cream. There are lots of opportunities. Just don’t be fazed by the discomfort at the beginning is all.
      1. Annie
        If you’re on Instagram look for mlle_bodywhisperer or namasteorganics. They both make awesome sauce black soap. Namaste Organics also has a website.
    2. Toby
      Ah, so I should spend my money and time to buy poor quality shoes and have them sewn round to keep the cobbler in business? Not going to happen.

      Where quality alternatives exist, I’m more than happy to patronize them. I use raw shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil for my skin and hair, over imported lotions.

      I just won’t waste my money and time out of sympathy for substandard products. Let’s be real.

      1. Nelo
        Lol. Got you there Toby. When it comes to shoes, American plaza (Balogun market ) has got my back. Some things can’t be trifled with.
      2. Raymond
        Toby I would like to discuss this with you. Can you suppress your gut instinct on this for a minute and look at the proposition from an objective point of view?

        To digress a bit, its like only employing experienced hands. An inexperienced person has to be hired first before he can get the experience you require. what we advocate is a way of getting this inexperienced person in the door and giving him a chance to acquire the experience you need. Sure you have to endure his low productivity while he learns but in the long run you will have a very skilled employee.

        The whole point the author is trying to make which I agree with is that our economy is in the doldrums because our local institutions have failed to thrive. The reason they have failed largely is due to the fact that we (Read Toby and friends 😀 )
        have preferred foreign alternatives. But without patronage our local industry will be starved of the support it vitally needs to grow. When we buy enough “bad wedges” from the local shoemaker, he can afford internet to learn better ways of marrying his soles to the beautiful design so they don’t divorce on your feet. (simplified that but you get the point?) It is demand that stimulates supply and not the other way round.

        You realise there is an endgame if you follow this through logically to its irresistible conclusion? “I will not buy substandard because I cannot manage” will lead to “goods remain substandard, low patronage and hence no positive effect on the economy” and finally, “economy crashes and no more money to afford the ‘standard’ foreign goods as well”.

        In a nutshell, support the local producer so he can improve and also provide you with products you will be satisfied with. This will help the economy which is what we are all here for.

        1. Toby
          I’m trying to be objective, but I can’t seem to get past the “buying substandard” part.

          Since reading this article, I’ve been taking stock of the things I consume and where I get them, and I’ve resolved to buy locally-made versions of these things where available and of acceptable quality.

          I do understand the point you’re making. BUT. I can’t get with the program buying inferior things with my hard-earned money, just so the economy can improve. Do we really have to start from that Ground Zero? This is where the government should step in to shore up the manufacturing industry and processes, by injecting capital, providing power (major factor) and ensuring quality control. If the products get to the point where we can bite down and manage them, then we as a people will do so, encouraged by the fact that the goods would be cheaper than imported items.

          I get it, I do, but I’m putting my mouth where my money is. This thing is harder in practice than in theory.

  30. Ebuka's Poppa
    Wonderful article…intelligent discourse from loads of engaging authors. I guess this just shows we have what it takes to build Nigeria up again. I attended public schools all through, and trust me those were the bomb…i recall my primary and secondary school teachers withdrawing their kids from private schools to come join us. I remember kingsway and leventis. i remember the Apapa amusement park, erin ijesha waterfalls, olumo rock and ikogosi, and how it used to amuse me to see loads of foreigners with cameras around their neck. Then Nigerians felt great pride and kept these things working. I remember watching abiola babes, iwuanyanwu nationale, NNB, leventis untied, stationery stores, IICC….i went to the stadium then and i wasnt scared of being mobbed….but now thats not the case…simply put, WE all have failed our children….a lot has been put forward on what to do or not to do…we need government policies to drive production, but we need the people to vote in the right people, and demand accountability of them to enable them pass legislation that will make things work….if we still keep selling our votes for a morsel of porridge then our leaders wont pass laws that will benefit our lot. if we keep allowing the elite to keep us fighting and divided along tribal, religious and party lines we wont hold them accountable… fact that i have read people say is that in sharing the loot, Dasuki did not look to tribe, or religion…this means when they are up there, those things dont count…why should it count when its about us? 2. We as a people need to also demand quality, only then would we be offered quality. we have been so abused that we now see mediocrity as a regular way of life. i have worked with expats as well as Nigerians, and trust me, expats insist on quality and standards….while we just choose to let things go…..if you request or challenge mediocrity, you are accused of being tribal (why didnt he speak up when it was the other guy, its bcos i am not igbo like him)..or when the other person did it nobody complained…is it only you)….so we as a people need to start challenging the status quo for it to change….you see well dressed folks in big cars driving against traffic…if you try to correct them they see you as a fool….others would even condemn you for demanding for the right thing to be done…..Yes the economy in particular and Nigeria in general needs fixing…..and it has to start with……the man in the mirror……Once again….graet article….wonderful discourse….by everyone…..well almost…….tehehehehehehe…..
  31. fisayo
    Well, I guess it is safe to stay at the middle of these extreme arguments.

    We MUST be willing to patronize our Naija products BUT they MUST meet a minimum standard of quality. Granted, it may not currently be at par with that of the ‘oyibo’ peeps but it should be functional at least. As we patronize them, they can get more revenue to improve the quality of products. We did this with our entertainment industry (mainly music & comedy as Nollywood is still growing) so I think we are inwardly patriotic enough to extend that ‘love’ to other sectors.

    But don’t be fooled my dear middle-class-comrades-living-in-a-bubble, some sacrifice (aka suffering) is very necessary this point to make things better

    BTW for the curious ones, my SAMSUNG PC is not manufactured in Nigeria but US also imports ’em.

  32. Ebere
    Reading this and seeing all the comments makes me really concerned and realizing Nigeria is really in trouble. Everyone is still talking about consuming and not a single person is talking about actually producing anything. People are complaining about the poor quality of Nigerian products and expecting someone else to sit down and make something better. If this is the way our young people think then we are really in trouble. The people who make those nice imported products don’t have two heads. The only way we’re getting out of this mess is by making more and better stuff – and selling them more competitively. The party is over. Now’s the time to get serious, put on our thinking caps and get our hands dirty.
  33. Ebere
    Think carefully about this: As a person, what do you produce that is world class quality and can be comfortably sold competitively on the streets of London, New York or even South Africa? If the answer is nothing, then, like most Nigerians, you’re still living in a fools paradise.
  34. Bharyour
    The author doesn’t want understand economics enough. And that’s worse than not understanding it at all.

    Nigeria has a big economy but only about 15% of it generates any foreign exchange. That 15% is the commodity (oil) export market that has seen receipts drop to about 25℅ of what they should be. Sad. But not hopeless. Yet.

    The government is free to decide how it wants to spend its forex receipts today, problem is because the government is the ‘sole provider’ and the ‘grand fixer of the exchange rate’ it feels the need to regulate what we spend the forex on. It’s how you get pissed off when your kids squander their pocket money.

    Truth is with a float and a liberal system, the government is relieved of the burden and resulting compulsion to determine what you spend forex on. They can determine how much they want to spend in the market each week and let the highest bidder win. I can assure you good people, the so called frivolities will die a natural death. Only goods/services worth the new naira price based on whereever the exchange rate settles will have a demand. Guess where the substitutes will come from? And when there’s increased demand from these substitutes? More players will enter resulting in more competition and eventually improved quality.

    My point is there are more “natural” ways to achieve the aims without causing market distortions that create arbitrage opportunities popping enough to make a straight man bend. We are not special, let’s not look for innovative solutions to questions already answered ages ago. This is a wheel, don’t reinvent it

  35. Nosa

    So i should forego quality and patronize local just because i want to be patriotic.

    I should leave binatone and but supermaster stabilizer because i like my country

    I should drink palmwine and ignore Carlo Rossi because “Arise, O Compatriots”

    El Ho El

    Please point me in the direction of quality local made so I can buy.

    All this obsession with having a strong naira will be our undoing.

    This post is just one big failed effort to guilt-trip one for patronize foreign. Failed because it’s not like we have local made quality and then ignore, and why will there be? When the infrastructure to produce quality is unavailable. What’s the entry capital for starting a minimal production business?

    Worst of all, i should abandon EPL and watch what? Adamawa warriors vs akure kings?


    P.S: i’m guessing nobody typed their comment on a zinox pc or supermaster phone, neither is anyone gonna leave the arsenal match and watch gombe warriors today.

  36. Ebunoluwa Dawodu
    The ‘producers’ of tomato purée here import the purée in bulk and only package them here… I know this for a fact as a banker who handles documentation for some of these companies importation….They are not patronizing our farmers by using home-grown tomatoes and our government is well aware of this fact. The seeming ‘localization’ of tomato purée manufacturing is thus a farce.

    Yes we have an insatiable taste for all things western but what are the alternatives? What is the solution to this ‘mindset’? To me, it still lies in our government! To me, an average Nigerian is proud to be Nigerian…we need a focused and concerted approach to fan the embers of that pride to push local consumption, and this has to be centralized and supported with the enabling environment for industry to thrive. This way we can revive all our moribund industries and prices of produced items will then become affordable as compared to imported stuff and everyone will automatically find their levels – those who purchase to belong will continue to go for the imported more expensive stuff while those who just want value for money will spend according to their pockets. This I believe was the idea behind the ‘Andrew’ advert which was aired by the government in the 80’s.

    How can we all as a people all of a sudden just want imported things to validate ourselves? It’s definitely not as simple as that. What percentage of Nigerians can even afford all those things you talk about – Swiss laces, flying out to watch their clubs, imported rice etc.. Are we aware of the level of poverty here? If the masses find locally produced rice widely available and much more affordable than the imported ones, they will buy. Right now for instance, in my mom’s little suburb, imported rice ranges from N300-N350 per mudu while local rice is N250 per mudu – in my opinion, if it were N100 per mudu, no one would stock the imported rice because no one would buy!

    So, there are too many issues oh but for me we need a government that will recognize them and act to cause a change and that includes asking people to patronize made-in-Nigeria amongst other things!

  37. Damilola
    great comments and I can sense the sincerity in every comment. I don’t know if the S.O.N can work on the standards of the local products, since a significant % is willing to patronise quality Made in Nigeria products. We have to keep moving!!!!! No pointing fingers, we are all involved. God bless Nigeria!!
  38. Grace O.
    So there are still right-thinking Nigerians on this planet and you, Ezaga are one of those courageous few unafraid to call sin by it’s rightful name. How so proud of you I am. I just got your article WhatsUpped to me by a girlfriend in Ohio. We are in the Diaspora and we are listening, wwatching, waiting, and praying for God to raise a Daniel, a Jeremiah, a Moses, or you for deliverance. We can return to the “I’M NIGERIAN, BLACK, AND PROUD!” We need leaders willing to work towards REFORMATION, IN MIND BODY AND SOUL.
  39. Chiedozie
    I honestly didn’t read through the 100+ comments so I have no idea if I’m repeating anything that’s been said…

    However, I do agree (almost 100%) with this article. I’ve had similar thoughts recently and I’m slowly ditching as many foreign (non-Nigerian) products as I can. It all began, for me, when I met Mama Nike Okundaye (of Nike Art Gallery). The history, technique and art behind adire production would blow you away. If we marketed that fabric and others like it to the rest of the world we would effectively be urbanising/civilising the villages where many of our local fabrics are produced, bringing much needed Fx, changing the African narrative from ‘war-torn, corruption-ridden, consumer of European handouts and hand-me-downs’ to one of more dignity, sustainability and pride. Think how we don’t particularly need modern technology or infrastructure to produce much of these items and how these same Oyibo people go crazy over hand-made, rustic fashion.
    *side bar: you really need to see what Oyibo people are doing with adire and ankara. Just Google, or better yet run a search on Pinterest and you’ll see more Europeans than Africans in our own prints. It’s funny how it takes the likes of Beyoncé and Michelle Obama to make us appreciate what’s been right in our backyard.

    I don’t want to ramble on. The point is simple. Spend more at the market on your street and less in Spar and Shoprite even if they claim to source locally (that way all our money would be going almost directly into the hands of the farmer, keeping almost 100% of that capital in circulation in our own economy instead of 60-70% being shipped out to South Africa as profit). If you love contemporary fashion, make your clothes with a local tailor (all my suits are made completely in Lagos and you can barely tell the difference. My shoes are all fron Nigerian designers though many of them manufacture outside our borders 😐 ). If you can, wear more local fabrics and designs as casual wear; the designs and type of fabric suit our weather, lifestyle and pockets better IMHO (I seriously hate seeing ill-fitting leggings/jeggins, tshirts, jeans etc. Just sew a very large dashiki and be done with it abeg. You’d even look more modest in that than in offensive skin tight clothing).

    E don do for now sha. Sha buy Nigerian and save our economy. (Lemme now now go and hypocritically watch BBC Brit on DStv)

  40. Ola
    I will like to compare national governance with that of family affair where the parents are like the government and the children are like citizen. As a child when I begging to have sense of existence , my thought was that am in this world to play but my parent stand to their feet that we are in this world to strive to become somebody that will impact positively in other peoples life. The bad governance in Nigerian overtime led her to current situation, failure of government to discharge their responsibilities gradually took people away from the old practice to the unfruitful path we are today. As a low income earner which I believe majority in the country fall in this category, I was never obsessed with Oyinbo stuffs/style but the day I realised that our leaders are not doing enough in ensuring quality in the limited available local products and practice that contributes to our economy was the time I get to know that I have to follow suit to get value for whatever I expend. If the government believe in the majority citizens and strengthen the system in terms of quality service delivery, our people will change their ways based on reality ongoing. I believe we will get to a level that only few minority will need harsh policy and enforcement to change. I encourage the government to lead in building system with value and trust and in in no time our economy will come back to life.
  41. Haruna Jirayi Magaji
    My gratitude to the writer and the courage to express the truth in simple terms.Now is the time for us to see clearly.Now is the time for our fingers to be dirty to earn Dollars,Pound sterling,Yuan,Yen and other currenries of the world.
    No better time to drum this message than now.As an organic beekeeper,I was laughed at few years back.Today,the bee products are worth a fortune as organic honey from Nigeria attracts
    $3200/ton in Europe or China.Beeswax goes for $12500/ton.How about propolis and pollen?
    The chief drummer(PMB)is here to show the way
    Follow me to appreciate earnings from our very own highly valued industrial minerals.Our rare earths minerals after processing abroad are valued at $300,000(ton),but what we get is a little as $4,000 from the sell of the raw mineral.
    Gemstones of value exist and in commercial quantities.Thanks to Chris Aire who showed some of us the way to be collectors.
    Those who have ears,use them and your fingers will do the rest.


  43. Jude

    I cannot honestly over emphasize the insight this post and comments have given me.
    Yes doing business in Nigeria is expensive, especially manufacturing. But that makes me wonder how Dangote and their likes was able to weather this difficulty terrain and unfavorable government policies to grow a crop of successfully manufacturing companies both here in Nigeria and in other African countries and still growing.
    Europe as developed as it is still protect their farmer against the open market. I believe with solid infrastructural development and waterproof economic policies, “Buying Nigeria” will yield much needed result. But we all know that these things take time(Power, road construction, regulated market etc), so in the absence of such ideal ecosystem what shall we do? we should buy Nigeria as much as we can and push for better leadership.
  44. Muyiwa Fadare
    Deep and true. The importance of the need to address our import/export crisis can not be over stressed enough.
    Less imports means more demand for home made goods, more demand means increase in labour thus increasing employment.
    It is all a simple cycle. May God help us do the needful
  45. Einsteinette
    Do you know in the slavery era we sold 1.7million pounds worth of palm oil and guess what? the white men brought it back as palm oil and butter. Now we are doing the same thing with petroleum. I just wish we could be less myopic and have more foresight. There is so much potential in this country and continent. I wish we could see it.
  46. Adeyemi Adefulu
    I have just scanned through this quality discourse of very intelligent and concerned young Nigerians. I am very impressed which is not to say l agreed with every point made. The lead writer is spot on. If you look around and see what food you eat, the clothes you wear daily up to and including Ankara, night wares and undies, the wall hangings, cutleries, drapes, kitchenware, and so on, the cars or buses we ride daily, the equipments in our offices, more than 95o/o of all these things are imported. These days we import shiploads of apples and other fruits from South Africa. It is as if we have no hands and no heads. I know government policy has contributed a lot to that. But that’s not all. Each of us has a quick fix and easy way syndrome.We have no understanding of what independence means. Indeed, we are economic slaves. We are a bunch of lazy chop chop consumers contributing very little to the world really. It is a pipe dream that anyone will respect us that way. Our currency cannot have strength or where will it derive from? The strength of a currency is a function of the productive capacity of that economy. Churches have taken over our factories. Go and see the old Dunlop at the Ikeja Industrial Estate. We would rather pray when we should work when the bible says we should work and pray. I don’t like Donald Trump but was he right on his characterization of who the black man is? Very right. Why didn’t he say that of Indians?The truth is we have not done much, I didn’t say anything, to earn the respect of the world. We can’t even feed ourselves ! In 1976, an lndian salesman came to sell the All India Law Reports to me in my office. I was not impressed with the quality. Even without saying anything he could read my body language. ” I know this is not as good as the All England Law Reports, ” the salesman volunteered, “but everything inside that book, the thread, the ink, the paper, the back, the content, we made it.” His point was made. I signed on. You can imagine where the Indian book trade is today. Mahatma Ghandi, had spelt out the way for India. “You cannot eat the food of the westerners. You cannot wear their clothes nor ride their cars or trains (not exact words). He lived by example, took his own goat to the UK for milk during the constitutional conferences which preceded the Indian independence and only wore Indian fabrics. It was a symbolism which sank with millions of Indians and directed their economic policies for many years and led them to where they are in the world today. Our own Nbonu Ojike warned us in the 50s with his “boycott all the boycottables ” but did we listen? We have no choice but to own our lives and our economy . Someone has to pay the price and foreigners are not going to do it for us. We are a nation of misdirected geniuses. Nigeria has the capacity to shake the world as it is doing in the arts. We can do same almost in any field of endeavor. I know our leaders have failed repeatedly and chopped with all the ten fingers. I know my generation failed you. But that is irrelevant now. Every generation has its destiny. The destiny of this generation is to sit up and drag Nigeria up. It will not be easy. No good thing is ever easy. But l assure you that if our young men and women rise up and make the sacrifice, this sleeping giant will move the world. If it does not, the slavery will continue and with it the mockery of the world.
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  48. Fisayo
    Honestly, this speaks to me A LOT.
    Firstly, I’m an economics student (recent Grad) and I was looking for this, really!
    Secondly, although I don’t own any really imported stuff but from all this, all I see is a thousand and one opportunities for us younguns.
    We need more people who will take more risks and actually put stuff on the line!
    Thanks for this!
  49. olamide
    I honestly think the problem we have as Nigerians is that we are not ready to make the required sacrifice to excel as a Nation. We have to learn to crawl before we fly. I read people complaining of poor quality Nigerian goods, hence the reason they buy imported goods. This is a very lame and selfish excuse if you consider the bigger picture. Look at the history of India. We were on the same level as “3rd world” countries a few years ago. The government took the needed drastic measures to build made in India products. No body could drive any imported car. The richest folks had to drive substandard made in India cars. The result? Their technology grew. People had no choice. Demand increased. More funds were injected into research to make better products by investors. Necessity is the mother of invention. As long as we continue to find a solution to the poor quality Nigerian goods in buying imported stuff then we can never grow.
    It’s a tough choice but one we must make. There is a local shoe maker I patronize now. When I wear his shoes people always compliment me and start to ask if it’s Gucci or Prada, etc. They don’t believe it’s locally made. Lets support our own and they will grow. All the foreign designers also started somewhere. Apart from drugs nothing else we can’t really do without importing. It’s high time we woke up from our slumber as a nation. I hope the current government would be bold enough to implement these type of drastic policies to save our country.

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