The campaign is a genuine effort for obvious reasons. What happened between last year’s summit of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the ongoing one shows that the FG has demonstrated genuine commitment towards the promotion of made-in-Nigeria products.
At the 21st edition of the summit held last year, we talked about improving the business climate, creating jobs and getting the commitment of top-level public officials. What the government has done in the past one year is an indication that it is committed to the campaign. The job creation unit in the Presidency has representatives from the NESG. The engagement shows that we are serious about job creation, which was a major component of the agenda of the 21st edition.
Another important thing is the inauguration of the presidential council on investment climate. The council is a fallout of the 2015 edition of the NESG. That is a high-level commitment to improving the business climate.
Another aspect has to do with legislative matters that relate to business climate. The NESG has been working with lawmakers on relevant legislative issues. We now have a railway bill that is waiting to be passed into law. That means so much to us because the same bill was stalled for over a decade. But a reasonable progress has been made on it in just a year. And that is as a result of the engagement between the NESG and the parliament.
Both the executive and legislature have shown commitment to the made-in-Nigeria campaign. If we continue to engage them, we would make more progress in the coming years. •Dr. Biodun Adedipe (Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Limited)
I think the government needs to do more to promote made-in-Nigeria products. We can achieve self-sufficiency in local production if the Federal Government is sincere and serious about the campaign. Our dependence on imported goods is destroying the economy; it cannot create wealth and employment. It would rather continue to deplete our foreign reserve.
So far, I think the government is on track in its efforts to get the country out of recession. But it needs to increase its speed. It is absurd to hear that we import about 80 per cent of the goods we consume in the country. We should do everything we can to reduce our import bills and improve export. That is the only way we can deal with the current economic challenges. •Wale Oyekoya (MD/CEO of Bama Farms)
It is a genuine campaign; the Federal Government means well. More than ever before, the government believes that the way out of the current recession is to promote made-in-Nigeria products. That would help, to a great extent, to create more jobs and stabilise the foreign exchange market. I believe the government means well.
But what is missing is the strategy to achieve the objective. The strategy needs to be properly refocused. It is not just about symbolism — wearing Nigerian fabrics and doing other ceremonies. That is good but other things are more important. The fundamental thing is developing the capacity of local manufacturers. We need to develop their capacity to be competitive in price and quality. If we continue with the campaign but the manufacturers cannot compete, the problems would remain.
To make reasonable progress, we must address the fundamental issues. A key aspect of the campaign is the procurement policy of the government. The FG should demonstrate more commitment in its procurement policy by directing public officials and government contractors to patronise locally-produced items. •Muda Yusuf (Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
If you examine the products coming from local manufacturers in recent times, you would notice that there has been a strong improvement in terms of quality. The manufacturers have improved the quality of their products and the finishing. To that extent, the campaign is genuine.
But the challenge is with the government, which has been paying lip service to the campaign. I call its involvement in the exercise lip service because it failed to make it succeed by not doing the needful. It should have realigned its procurement policy with the campaign if it was serious about it. The government’s procurement policy has the capacity to boost the acceptance of made-in-Nigeria products.
A situation where public officials ignore local products for imported ones does not give a good impression about the goods manufactured in the country. The government should not only make a noise; it should demonstrate its commitment to the campaign. That should start with the amendment of the national procurement policy.
People may point to poor infrastructure. But I think that unfavourable procurement policy is a major hindrance. If 60 per cent of items used by public officials is sourced locally, producers would be encouraged to take local production seriously.
A key challenge facing the manufacturing sector is the lack of access to market. Small manufacturers cannot compete with foreign manufacturers if there are no deliberately-designed strategies to encourage them. Access to market is key to growing local production.
In the face of poor infrastructure, Chinese manufacturers in the country are still doing well. They come here and make the best of furniture, put made-in-Italy labels on them and sell them without any stress. Manufacturing in Asia and other places is rural based. That shows that infrastructure may not be a major issue if micro and macroeconomic policies are supportive.
Already, we have manufacturing clusters in the country. Of course, an improvement in infrastructure would broaden the prospects of manufacturing. Expansion in infrastructure would help to boost the volume of local production. But supportive procurement policy is very important. •Oladipo Jemi-Alade (Chairman, South-West, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises)
In terms of policy direction and programmes, the Federal Government is interested in promoting made-in-Nigeria products. But poor attitude and business environment are the major challenges. You cannot promote local products if certain things are not in place.
First, what products is the government promoting? I served in a section of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group recently, where the issue was deliberated extensively. The discussion centred on two concepts — made-in-Nigeria products and made-by-Nigeria products. The Chinese companies operating in Nigeria make made-in-Nigeria but not made-by-Nigeria products. The latter means products produced by Nigerians themselves. The question that arose during the discussion was — how do we empower Nigerian manufacturers?
The Federal Government needs to come up with a list of products that are draining our foreign exchange; select the ones we can produce locally and map out strategies on how to produce them. We need to come up with strategies on how to produce the selected goods and ensure that what we produce meet minimum standards. What is certain is that local manufacturers cannot compete with their foreign counterparts operating in the country. But we must specify the minimum standards which they must meet.
Partnership is an option we can also explore. We can partner foreign companies that make the items that feature prominently on Nigeria’s list of imported items. We can use incentives to attract the manufacturers of the items to establish production plants in the country.
Certain imported products were banned. Out of the banned items, which of them can we produce locally? What incentives does the private sector need to produce those items locally? These questions must be answered. The fact is that the private sector cannot drive local production without assistance from the government. This is because the cost of production is so high that it is no longer profitable. Government needs to come up with incentives to encourage people to go into the production of those items.
The made-in-Nigeria campaign is a general statement that anybody can make. The government needs to come with specific strategies and set clear targets. Otherwise, people would not have confidence in the policy statement. •Femi Saibu (An Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Lagos)
Made-in-Nigeria campaign is an inevitable strategy we should use to stimulate the economy, especially considering the current state of the economy. An import-dependent economy boosts foreign economies at its own detriment. Hence, embracing local products would reduce the demand for foreign currencies and stabilise the value of the naira.
Today, some of the made-in-Nigeria products are of higher quality than imported made-in-Nigeria products. A typical example is the made-in-Nigeria door, which is of a higher quality than the ones imported from China. A shift to local products would address the rising unemployment rate. This is why the Federal Government is expected to show more sincerity in its efforts to create an enabling environment for local production. Its approach, so far, is not good enough. •Matthew Adeleye (CEO, Stark Industries Limited)
Compiled by Geoff Iyatse