The obsession for foreign goods and services has obviously been one of the biggest banes to national development. Even as Nigeria struggles to wade off the challenges that it is currently facing, which is occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 and with the government’s efforts to cushion its effects with several policies, a handful of Nigerian elite continue to remain a major cog in the wheel of the nation’s economic progress.
If local industrialisation is the key to raising a nation’s living standards, Nigeria has yet another opportunity to grow locally and replicate the success stories of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Malaysia and more recently Vietnam and Bangladesh. These nations discovered that building a competitive manufacturing sector is the fastest way for a country to climb the productivity ladder and raise the standard of living for its citizens, particularly the poor who made the bulk of the population.
Eradicating poverty depends on domestic production, though poor infrastructure are hampering this progress, the country has also been caught up in the web of satisfying the feeding habits of 10 per cent of its elite with imported foods and luxury items that a better chunk of the nation’s forex.
This should not be when almost 90 per cent of Nigerians don’t eat United States Dollar (USD) related food. From local rice to yam, from maize to soyabeans, cassava to plantain, vegetables to fruits, meat to poultry, the average Nigerian does not deed the USD to eat food.
Why do we need $10billion yearly to feed the habits of 10 per cent of Nigerians who will most likely abuse this country after helping them massage their egos and insane vanity?
From Aba to all the major markets in Nigeria, from Wuse Market to several streets all over the major cities across Nigeria are shoemakers producing lovely shoes, tailors designing wonderful dresses and sustaining the country informally. Why should Nigeria keep feeding the insane need for foreign designers fashion with over $1billion annually and they will turn around and echo Donald Trump shithole country to our faces?
Ninety per cent of Nigerians depend on Tokunbo vehicles, 95 per cent of rural Nigerians depend on public transportation and 85 per cent of Nigerian may never fly airplane all their lives. Again, why should Nigeria devote and dedicate our hard-earned USD to import luxury automobiles, aircraft and related machines for those elite who will not value the fact that they are a burden to our progressive growth but abuse Nigeria with every opportunity.
Ninety-five per cent of Nigerians will be educated in our public and private schools here in Nigeria. Most of the elite of today were educated in public schools, all of rural Nigeria is educated locally and even the cost of private school in the rural areas is really low. Now those who have been blessed by this country, take our scarce forex to send their children to school overseas.
Why should the nation be burdened with this weight on our reserves?
The chains of bad habits are too weak to be felt until they are too difficult to be broken. Our dependency on anything foreign is part of the mental agenda of our slave and colonial masters. But, when will this slavery end? Is it when colonialism ends?
The Chinese rejected foreign goods in the 1940s and in the 1980s made-in China was rejected here in Nigeria. Today, China makes and rules the world. Let me phrase the words properly, the world is now made in China. The Americans rejected Toyota from Japan in the 1950s, the Japanese did not reject Toyota, they drove that car. Today, Toyota is the largest car maker in the world. The United Arab Emirate (UAE) was a desert in the 1970s, today Dubai is one of the top tourism destinations in the world and a top forex earner.
You can’t talk about saner climes, you can’t talk about the success of China and the Asian economic powerhouses without wanting to do what they did. God is not in the business of developing nations. God is not in the business of growing economies. God and prayers will not bring the changes we desire as a people. God no dey do for men, what men should do for themselves. When churches and mosques replace schools and factories; there is no way poverty, hunger, joblessness, unemployment, banditry and kidnappings etc will not dominate our humanity.
It was Brian Tracy who forcefully advised that you “eat that frog”. I support that with “eat that stone”. Until Nigerians are ready to be nationalistic like the Americans, the Britons, the Chinese etc, we must accept that this path we have chosen will destroy us and God is not in any position to do anything about it.
–Tedheke, a public affairs commentator and commercial farmer, wrote this piece from Keffi in Nasarawa State.