Today the Senate Committee on Investment under the chairmanship of Senator Nenadi E. Usman conducts a public hearing on the Local Industry Patronage Bill 2013. The bill “seeks to make it mandatory for the Government ministries, Departments and Agencies to give priority to local manufacturers and indigenous companies in the procurement of goods, works and services and to prohibit the exclusion of locally produced goods in the procuremen process and for other related matters”.
Sponsored by Senator Moh’d Shaaba Lafiagi, this is one developmentalist bill if enacted into law could make a positive impact on re-indutrialization efforts of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, revive distressed industries, increase capacity utilization and above all create mass decent jobs for the millions of the unemployed youths. There are scores of reasons why industries are collapsing. They include poor infrastructure, notably poor electricity supply, high costs as well as short tenure of funding, policy summersaults, addictive waivers (read; corruption) , raw material crisis and complete lack of local patronage of locally manufactured goods. It is commendable that the Local Industry Patronage Bill being sponsored by Senator Lafiagi creatively singles out the critical success factor of enhanced local patronage as a way of reviving industries.
With trillions of Naira annual budgets, Nigeria remains a great spender in Africa. The critical question is are we buying made-in-Nigeria goods and services or we are just promoting capital flight through uncritical spending bias for imported goods and services? I agree with the principle of this Bill that it’s time we translated the policy pronouncements of successive governments aimed at industrializing our country through practical legislative intervention. In 2003, we hosted the 8th All African Games in – Abuja (COJA) with billons of Naira. The fiesta turned out to be another avenue for capital flight. BMW South Africa reportedly gave 900 cars “free” to COJA in an attempt to outbid Nigeria PAN in Kaduna. To what extent did SA BMW’s method conform to ethics of competition and level playing field in international trade? How free were the free cars by a company in business for profit? What was the implication of that singular uncritical cheap opening of Nigerian market mean for industrial capacity utilization, job creation in Nigeria? Meanwhile while PAN was closed, COJA hosted by Nigeria refuelled South African economy . We were also eager to build a new stadium and throw billion dollars at peace keeping operations world -wide, but what values are these operations adding to Nigerian economy in terms of job creations and industrial expansions? For instance, which Nigerian companies would supply tarpaulins for our peace keeping military men and women in Mali? Who airlifts them? Nigerian airlines or outsourced airlines?
In the 70s at a time it was not fashionable to patronize Africa and even more fashionable to ape Europe and America, our legendary Anikulapo Kuti sang Buy Africa. His contention was that prosperity would elude Africa without patronage of its products and ideas by Africans. Over 30 years after that rude lyrical awakening, Nigeria had uncritically enlisted in the World Trade Organization (WTO), a club of trading nations without products to trade but with multiple dumped products to buy. The result today is that Nigeria has become a huge market for dumped products from Europe and China leading to factory closures, unemployment and poverty true to
Fela’s foresight. I share the patriotic as well as smart economic insights of the proponents of this timely Bill that “,Americans use American cars, same with Koreans and Japanese. The question then is why is it that Nigerian government officials cannot use cars either produced or assembled in Nigeria?Most household items as well as cars used by various foreign embassies here in Nigeria are brought in from their home countries as a matter of deliberate policy to patronize their home made products, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.The Indonesian public officers are made to wear locally produced fabrics to work twice a week. India refused to use colour television until they started producing in India. Occasionally, some of our leaders attempted to adopt locally made dresses as their official attires in order to encourage Nigerians to patronize locally made fabrics. As commendable as this is, it falls far short of what is required to keep our local industries alive” .
We need to push local patronage by force of law not because it is just patriotic but because it is economically sensible and desirable.
For instance, let ALL uniforms, for primary/secondary schools, the Armed Forces, Police, Immigration, Customs, be procured from local manufacturers and sewn locally. This will increase capacity utilisation and reduce unemployment in the country and ultimately help in reducing crime in the country
Government officials (top-down) should be made to wear locally produced fabrics at all public functions to encourage the populace to buy made in Nigeria
In conclusion, if this bill is passed into a law and effectively monitored and implemented, then Nigeria will be on her way back to re industrialisation, employment to the teeming unemployed youths, increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and source of revenue earner to government in form of taxes, levies, rates. All nations proudly patronise their goods and services to create jobs and wage incomes, why not Nigeria?
Issa Aremu mni
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