”USE NIGERIAN; BUY NIGERIAN” — PMB – Photograph above is that of Michelle Obama. She relishes wearing Adire (tie and dye) dresses – a Nigerian textile — a resist-dyed cloth that has its origin in Abeokuta, Ogun State. It is evident that home-grown solutions have to be adopted in evolving practical solutions that can address the innumerable issues plaguing Africa today. That assertion was made not too long ago by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in far away Congo at the commissioning of the US$300 million Aliko Dangote’s Congo cement plant sometime last year. Two issues raced through my mind when the news of this event was brought to my attention.
The first is Nigeria’s potential, market, and huge human and material resources, as well as the legacies of resilience, irrepressible commitment to the pursuit of chosen goals by the ordinary Nigerian, and our ability to navigate difficult terrains of life. It wasn’t really the fact that the new plant that cost US$300m with a capacity to create about 1,000 jobs that fascinated me. What thrilled me was the fact that Nigerians appear to be a special breed of strong-minded adventurous people, who in the near future could conquer the world, if we all – Nigerians – conduct our affairs properly. As at then, Dangote Cement had presence and projects in 15 other African countries, with capacity to produce 14 million tonnes of cement per annum and anticipated expansion to produce additional 11.1 million tonnes per annum.
INTEGRATION IN AFRICA: This forms part of African Union’s integration agenda that aims at promoting trade within Africa by African nations. Aliko Dangote is an extremely humble and focused personality with a strong passion for the development of Africa and the Black race. His involvement in total upgrading of The Africa Center, Harlem, New York speaks eloquently about his craving for the good of the Black race. Every well-meaning Nigerian should be proud of how some Nigerian businesses are being replicated in different parts of the world. President Muhammadu Buhari’s commendation was relayed at the Congo event through the then Solid Minerals Minister, Kayode Fayemi: ‘’Dangote is championing Africa’s economic renaissance’’ and ‘’It is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the innumerable issues plaguing Africa today; and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades is the infrastructure deficit.’’
And it is not only Dangote. There is renewed cultural awareness in Nigeria that warrants the need to incorporate traditional symbols into art to catch the fancy of the world. There are several Nigerians promoting Nigerian arts and crafts – Nike Okundaye, Muraina Oyelami, Jimoh Buraimoh and several others who emerged from Ulli Beier’s Osogbo School of Arts. Most of them are in high demand outside Nigeria. In the financial services sector, Tony Elumelu’s UBA, First Bank Plc, Jim Ovia’s Zenith Bank Plc; Segun Agbaje’s Guaranty Trust Bank Plc; and Herbert Wigwe’s ACCESS Bank Plc, among other financial institutions, dot African nations’ landscape and have made incursions into the Western world.
ADIRE TEXTILE – HELPING OURSELVES: We are not too far away from our goal if we, collectively stand committed and dedicated to develop our economy. I visited Ogun State, the original home of Adire dresses recently and was fascinated by the advancements recorded by the Ibikunle Amosun regime in the area of production of Adire dresses. The promotion desk is headed by a vibrant and very professional lady, Mrs. Yewande Amusan, Senior Consultant to Governor Amosun. She demonstrated her versatility in discussions and demonstrated a firm grip of promoting local textiles, particularly adire (tie and die) dresses; and the policy measures being introduced.
A publication in the Nigerian Guardian newspapers states that: ”The Adire was first produced in Jojola’s compound of Kemta, Abeokuta by Chief Mrs. Miniya Jojolola Soetan, the second Iyalode (Head of Women) of Egbaland. She then passed on the process to her children and onward to the future generations. The first Adire material was made with Teru (local white attire) and Elu (local Dye) made from elu leaf which is planted in the Saki area of Oyo state. It is evident that Nigeria is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain a broad-based growth and development. As I reasoned further, I envisioned a Nigeria that leads not only Africa but the whole world. Yes, it is possible if we really unite and resolve that Nigeria will be allowed to grow.
NIGERIA HAS ALL IT TAKES TO BE GREAT: We must tell these success stories and let the whole world know our inherent capabilities. Nigeria’s Adebayo Ogunlesi, 64 years old is an indigene of Ogun State. He reportedly bought five (5) airports in the United Kingdom through his company – Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). In 2006, GIP bought London City Airport. In 2009, GIP acquired the majority in London Gatwick Airport in a deal worth £1.455 billion. He also owns Edinburgh Airport bought in 2012. . Beyond that, Ogunlesi is the chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City with worldwide stake in infrastructure assets. I think what we need to do now is to help ourselves. Nigerians at home should give preference to locally made products. Others in the Diaspora should go for Nigerian products and services banks where available. Another Nigerian in the Diaspora who is making waves is Kase Lawal, 65 years old, and an indigene of Oyo State. Lawal, based in the United States is chairman and chief executive officer of CAMAC International Corporation, chairman and chief executive officer of Erin Energy Corporation, and chairman of Allied Energy Corporation in Houston, Texas.
THE DUBAI EXPERIENCE & NIGERIA’S POLICY INITIATIVES: Dubai was a desert a few decades ago. The King of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Al Maktoum has come out to beat his chest that ”Dubai is building a new reality for our people, a new future for our children, and a new model of development. ”In 1999, many questioned our idea to establish Dubai Internet City in the desert. ”Two years ago, Amazon acquired the multi-billion dirham Souq.com and today, Uber acquired Careem for Dh 11 billion. ”These giant companies flourished from the desert of Dubai” It is in youths that the process of societal renewal is embedded.
ATTITUDINAL CHANGES: It is important for our youths to be creative and imaginative as government creates an enabling environment for youth development, and the eradication of some criminal and social vices in which youths are involved. There must be attitudinal changes, propelled by good policies and programmes, designed and implemented to promote national development. Let us all cultivate the progressive habit what I call: ‘’Go For Nigerian Products and Services’’. Export of commodities in the non-oil export sub-sector require collaboration and support of all well-meaning Nigerians. Please establish and eat in Nigerian restaurants that are becoming available in all parts of the world as a result of the industry and commitment of our people abroad to the pursuit of whichever goals they plan to achieve.
QUALITY OF PRODUCTS GUARANTEED: Let it be known that your money and quality are guaranteed. For now, it is imperative to state that measures have been worked out by Government for quality productions of local fabrics like Adire (tie and dye) and other local related commodities such that those who mass- produce Nigeria Made dresses and other commodities, particularly organizations that brand their products. Local producers are now encouraged to pass quality tests put in place to guarantee customer satisfaction. Similarly, the federal government has strengthened the Bank of Industry to cope with challenges that may arise through investments in Small and Medium enterprises, particularly back-up funding for investing in production of Made in Nigeria products and services.
MARKETING: A prominent online marketing firm now sells Nigerian products online. Please visit JUMIA to see what they offer for sale. Other regulatory agencies that are under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment collaborate to make the agenda function properly. These agencies include: Standards Organization of Nigeria, Consumer Protection Agency, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Exports Promotion Council, and the Nigerian Free Trade Zones Authority. It is possible to establish our own supermarkets selling branded Nigerian products at home and abroad. This is a private sector initiative because it is always better for government not to go into business. Our own brands of Barneys of New York, Bealls of Florida, J. C. Penney, Selfridges and Harrods of London could be replicated here and abroad and sell standard Made in Nigeria products. Ideas rule the world.
Support initiatives designed to promote Made in Nigeria products.