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Nigerians must curb obsession with foreign goods

There is no better time to reflect on some of the self-sabotaging habits of Nigerians than a period the country is marking its independence anniversary. …

There is no better time to reflect on some of the self-sabotaging habits of Nigerians than a period the country is marking its independence anniversary. 

The white men freed us 62 years ago, have we freed ourselves from colonial mentality? Have we liberated ourselves from inferiority complex and low self-esteem?  

Do we believe in ourselves, our enviable human resources, the potential and talents of our massive youth population? If we do, why then is the obsession with foreign goods and services at the expense of locally made ones? Why do we prefer to go abroad in search of what can be sourced locally, even for things in which we have comparative advantage over other countries?  

Do we know that our naira keeps depreciating because we have left local industries to rot while we chase foreign goods? We are not export competitive, we import everything and export almost nothing. And if we don’t earn foreign exchange, our currency can’t be strong. 

The only source of our foreign exchange is oil and gas but we are not able to meet our OPEC quota due to the organised crime called oil theft. We also killed the local refineries so that we can import refined petroleum products for local consumption. And we use the meagre resources from the sale of refined products in the international market to fund the government scam called fuel subsidy or under-recovery. Sometimes, one is tempted to think we are cursed with importation.       

It is disheartening that while other African countries are looking inwards and helping their local industries to grow, our elite here brag about importing food items, source medicals and education from even less endowed nations.  

History has it that Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and other first-generation universities used to admit foreigners from different parts of the world. Sadly, decades later, Nigeria has now deteriorated to the extent that Nigerians prefer to send their children to neighbouring countries to acquire education.  

Sometimes, I wonder how a group of people will hate themselves like this and turn around to blame the devil for the country’s woes or pray to God to help fix the unemployment and poverty they caused. 

It is not only the fact that people seek medical attention and sound education from abroad that bothers me, but the unpatriotic attitude that some Nigerians display is worrisome. While we have productive, young Nigerians that are making nice shoes and bags, some people would still rather buy China-made, with lower quality, as part of the ‘abroad obssession’ that we have been talking about all day. 

The sad truth about our obsession with foreign stuff at the expense of locally-made ones is the fact that we export employment and import poverty and unemployment into our country. 

It is understandable that no country can stand on its own irrespective of its level of development as we need one another in the comity of nations. But in serious countries, people do not import things they have comparative advantage in. They rely on other countries for certain imports and services and have something to export to the other countries and earn foreign exchange. But Nigerians want to import everything; they want to go abroad for everything, even for things they have readily available in their own country.  

Nigerians must look inwards. The past crusade about patronising made-in-Nigeria goods and services must come back so that people will know the economic gains of supporting local industries and escalating their capacity in the international market.  

There should be a ban on the importation of certain products which we can manufacture in the country, such as toothpicks, textiles, sachet tomatoes, toothpaste and lots more. Government and other stakeholders must also find a way to boost the quality and acceptability of local goods and services. 

Nigerians must purge themselves of inferiority complex and slave mentality. They must believe in the greatness and potential of fellow citizens, and learn how to buy local.  

May God bless Nigeria.  

 

Rasheedat Shuaib is a Mass Communication student at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.