Home Economy AT THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE —Mobilizing Nigerians to embrace the Nigeria Products &...

AT THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE —Mobilizing Nigerians to embrace the Nigeria Products & Services campaign

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The global community is in hard times. And an additional stark fact is that no one knows how long it will take to exit the trade and financial crises. The United Nations Conference on Trade & development in its June 2020 report noted that: ‘’Trade contraction from COVID-19 deeper than the financial crisis as COVID-19 is causing international trade to collapse. The projection shows that ‘’International trade is likely to remain below the levels observed in 2019 in the second half of this year. ‘’The magnitude will be dependent upon not only additional economic disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic; but also on the type and extent of policies that countries will adopt to restart their economies’’

The report continues: ‘’Assuming persisting uncertainty, UNCTAD expects a decline of around 20 percent for the year 2020. In sum, a potentially deep recession in the global economy will result in significant losses in Africa with a fall in GDP of -1.4%. Most countries are expected to suffer a recession as a result of the decline in world GDP and fuel prices, but the impact is expected to be disproportionately higher amongst net food exporters. On its part, the World Trade Organization (WTO)  ‘’expects that the decline in international trade will be between 13 and 32 percent as COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented disruption to the global economy and world trade, as production and consumption are scaled back across the globe’’ But it is the technocrats and bureaucrats that will understand this language. Not the common man who wants to survive at all costs and has to be at least guided to survive.

LOCAL PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY  One of the measures adopted by the Muhammadu Buhari administration is proper attention to LOCAL PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY through several measures already adopted. For instance, Executive Order 003 is in place to increase the level of patronage of Made in Nigeria products and services. If our economy must grow, we have to embrace the practice of utilizing products and services made in Nigeria. It is for this reason that President Buhari is imploring all citizens to GROW WHAT WE EAT; & EAT WHAT WE GROW. This is the secret of the wealth of advanced countries that have shot into prominence. And it goes beyond eating to include utilizing locally made products and services.  Agencies of government that will evidently be stretched significantly are the Federal & State Ministries of Finance, Budget & Economic Planning, the Federal and States Ministries of Industry, Trade & Investment that are responsible for the management and the economy and implementation of trade policies respectively. Also of significant importance are Ministries that coordinate Agriculture.

PROMOTING FOOD SECURITY:  A few months ago, World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley in a presentation to the UN Security Council warned that thousands may die as a result of hunger if adequate and urgent steps are not taken to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and the hunger situation in the world.  He alerted that the world had on its hands ‘’famines of biblical proportions that could erupt within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken.’’ WFP hinted that it would ‘’maintain its vital lifesaving assistance in Nigeria under the new strategic blueprint. ‘’However, it will also focus on self-reliance, resilience and peacebuilding initiatives to enable access to food by all that will help achieve zero hunger. ‘’The plan also provides an opportunity for WFP to strengthen gender-transformative programming in Nigeria by empowering women and girls to face some of the challenges which affect their food security and hinder their participation in decision-making. WFP worked closely with the Government of Nigeria, donor governments, civil society, private sector, and other humanitarian agencies and development partners working in the country to develop the new framework. ‘It is in line with Nigeria’s National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and is also aligned with two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG2 – Zero Hunger, which aims to eradicate hunger by 2030; and SDG17, which promotes both public and private partnerships.

ACTUALIZING THE OBJECTIVE:  No common man is interested in news about Revenue Allocation to the three tiers of government obviously because to them, it is esoteric.  That would sound very uninteresting to the poor whose concern is how to feed and stay alive. What they love to hear is better times have come again. But that might not come before the next two to three years, given projections of multilateral institutions. The noise to be made by the Finance Minister, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed has to be pronounced and vociferous for people to know the situation and implications of non-conformist posture. In the case of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, I am aware that the Minister of State supervising Mr. President’s policies on Nigeria Made products and services, Ambassador Maryam Katagum is moving strategically; emphasizing attention to how all Nigerians could possibly embrace locally made products and services to cushion the impact of the pandemic. No doubt, the outbreak of Coronavirus is a set-back. But the situation is not a totally hopeless case.

All Nigerians at home and abroad are being sensitized to support the Made in Nigeria policies that could sustain a broad-based growth and development, particularly in the non-oil exports sector.  The gains of using our own products should by now be clear to the ordinary man. The common man only needs to be more aware that Nigerians could add value to the local productive capacity. In the case of the affluent, nobody needs to campaign to them so much about the importance of utilizing Made in Nigeria products and services. The campaign the rich require is to bring in their funds from the vaults of foreign nations to develop the economy of Nigeria. And yes, this is possible and can be done.

DIVERSIFICATION:  In a discussion with Hajiya Maryam Katagum not too long ago, she said that in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives, she is irrevocably committed to the agenda of getting Nigerians to embrace the policy wholesale as the backbone of the national economy. The campaign is hinged on the aspirations of the citizenry and the potential markets and is geared towards stimulating the economy through Nigeria Made products. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment is moving towards greater involvement of the citizenry in the consumption and utilization of Nigeria Made products. Amb. Katagum has a well-laid out policy of reaching the grassroots through collaboration by the three tiers of government and the private sector. The Nigerian government’s policy on industrialization, trade and investment is one that is worthy of support by all who mean well for the nation. Katagum submitted that all we need do is to demonstrate interest and patriotism, as government continues to create the enabling environment and play its regulatory role. We can get there speedily if we work together, she said.

BOOSTING NON-OIL EXPORTS:  The stage had been set for massive boosting of non-oil exports before COVID-19 struck. An ambitious agenda of getting the Nigerian and African Diaspora to create huge interest through exhibitions and roadshows had to be put on hold. But all is still well with the return to the drawing table to integrate the Economic Stimulus Package in the policies of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment. Investors in the Made in Nigeria sector are being encouraged through policies already put in place for ease of doing business. The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry are infusing capital and funding support through various financing schemes to promote patronage of locally made goods and products. Particular attention is being accorded Small & Medium Enterprises that have the capacity to boost production and create job opportunities progressively.

POSITIVE EFFECTS OF SUPPORT FOR POLICIES ON NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS & SERVICES There is evidently a brighter tomorrow if Nigerians could embrace and support the policy of the federal government in the area of promoting local products and services and non-oil exports. For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians at home and abroad are reminded that there is enormous hope as this policy is designed to produce the following results:

  • Boost the economy
  • Correct imbalance in the economy
  • Source of encouragement for producers and consumers of locally made items.
  • Encourage State and local governments to key into this activity

FRIGHTENING GLOBAL SITUATION & UTILIZATION OF NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS & SERVICES The current situation all over the world is frightening. The United Nations defines poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having. Today, more than 780 million people live below the international poverty line. More than 11% of the world population is living in extreme poverty and struggling to  fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. Government and the private sector must collaborate to lift people out of poverty.

  • The standard of living will improve drastically. Nigeria’s money remains in Nigeria for reinvestments
  • Reduce dependence on oil revenue for survival & Building of a resilient economy
  • Encourage the production of cash crops that yield huge foreign exchange as palm oil, cashew, cocoa, soya beans, rubber, rice, petrochemical, leather, ginger, cotton, and Shea butter.
  • Creation of jobs and employment opportunities

 VAST & LIMITLESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS IN A HUGE MARKET Nigerians in the Diaspora, given their usefulness and high relevance, have not been left out of the equation with strong appeals and encouragement for participation in the development of Nigeria’s economy. Nigeria, with a population of 200 million people is easily the largest market in Africa and offers wide opportunities to local and foreign investors.  It is obvious that massive support of all Nigerians at home and abroad for the MADE IN NIGERIA policy is a major requirement to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  The best of Nigeria lies ahead of us all Nigerians, as the federal government makes good its decision to invest in infrastructure, and spend more money on capital projects, roads, power, health and the rest.  Before the economic stimulus agenda, about N2.7 trillion was voted for the critical areas that drive development.

THE NIGERIAN MARKET IS HUGE:  The Nigerian government has a policy of Manufacturing-driven growth that has the highest impact on job creation. It is important for Nigerians to produce the raw materials that feed industries build in the country. Nigeria remains a key nation that is driving economic integration in Africa, a continent regarded as the next frontier of the global economy.  The 2019 African Economic Outlook published by the African Development Bank asserts that: ‘’At the core of African integration, is an envisaged “Borderless Africa” that is viewed as one of the key foundations of a competitive continental market that could serve as a global business centre”.

ON COLLABORATION FOR ADVANCING NIGERIA MADE POLICIES  Amb. Katagum noted that: ‘’we (the citizenry) cannot afford to wait or be complacent in view of the fact we need to grow our economy and combat the dreaded pandemic.  ‘’Africa is widely regarded as the next frontier to drive the global economy. And Nigeria, with our huge population and strategic position, has the capacity to emerge one of the next factories to the world. Your decision and mine to use Made in Nigeria products and services would also create additional jobs and the correction of the imbalance in the national economy, as well as also promote the utilization of local raw materials for industrialization. There is no amount of raw materials that you produce that would be wasted. ‘’Patronizing Nigeria Made products will serve as a source of encouragement for producers of locally made items; enable these producers to plough back into the economy the profits, thus realized, growing their businesses that would, in turn, contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy. Nigeria can develop phenomenally, only if all Nigerians take proper steps to reposition the country for greatness. We have the resources to make Nigeria great.’’

CHARGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE DR DK OLUKOYA Dr. DK Olukoya, General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries a few months before COVID-19 struck, in one of his sermons appealed to our young people that ‘’the situation may not be as hopeless as you may think. All you need is patience, quiet determination and the willingness to build. In 2011, a major global investment firm identified Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey (abbreviated as MINT) as four countries likely to become part of the ten biggest global economies by the year 2050, because their large populations mean there would be many young people and a strong workforce. Nigeria’s numerous rich natural resources plus the oil and the well-regulated banking system, make it a good candidate for a strong economy. ‘’My dear young people, why not learn a vocation in addition to your degree and start your own business? With Chinese products gradually becoming expensive, Africa can be the next factory to the world to replace China. We can become the world’s solar energy headquarters if we could develop cheaper solar panels using our local materials.  With so much land available, farming for export is a wonderful opportunity. Our young people should consider converting the internet and social networking sites to forums for sharing best practices with their overseas counterparts on how to modernize artisan professions like building, mechanic, tailoring, textile design, farming, metal work, etc. The world is eagerly waiting for our products in the global market. Beloved, the streets of America and Europe are not paved with gold. ‘’They were built over many centuries by men like us, who sacrificed by investing in themselves and their fellow countrymen. Their children are reaping the dividends today. ‘’The young ones, encouraged by parents, should spearhead a revolution of patient hard work, entrepreneurship, innovation and self-enhancement.’’

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT —  COUNSEL BY THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION  The global community is troubled because no country in the world could say emphatically that its economy would bounce back within the shortest possible period.  The pandemic is so severe that some First World nations have gone into recession! It is for this reason and others that the World Trade Organization has counselled nations that ‘’One of the most effective means of addressing this crisis is through timely, accurate information. ‘’An informed public is better positioned to make sound decisions, including on questions related to trade.’’  This must particularly interest Third World nations that harbour a significant population of illiterates and the poor. It is principally imperative because as the saying goes: ‘’the hungry do not hear sermons’’.

The ordinary man on the streets might not know the implication of this horrible development.  The common man must be told very convincingly that coronavirus has opened the domestic economy to huge external revenue shocks and why she/he would bear part of the incidence of the pandemic. This is one-way demands could be successfully made for people to tighten their belts and contribute to national growth.  Governments could, accordingly,  demand collaboration, and why there is a need for solidarity and cooperation to ward off the effects. This is where strategic communication comes in.

Information is an essential communication tool for good governance. If communication is indeed a fundamental need, right and responsibility, it should be naturally expected that certain propelling and compelling factors must be in place to ensure that this important major requirement of any society and its constituents, is not only available but also available in such a way that its purpose is not defeated.  An expert in mass communication, Prof. Frank Okwu Ugboajah (1980) submits that ‘’Various issues that combine to influence a society or nation’s communications policy include ‘’socio-economic and political geography,  its system of mass communication, its public policies concerning the mass media, and the policies of its mass media.’’ The Economic Stimulus agenda has been strategically framed and rooted in sound macro-economic fundamentals to get the country out of the woods.

Going forward, it is important for the three tiers of government to collaborate and pay particular attention to the mobilization of the citizenry to understand how the hard times crept in, what the government is doing, and what the citizenry must do. Strategic communicators don’t just communicate. When they do, it has a purpose. Therefore, strategic communication involves handling of messages from the conception stage, through the various processes, until a communicative response is received by the source. The response is further utilized to gauge the effectiveness of the message, and if necessary, further modify related messages that would be sent out on the same mission.

For now, the effects are biting hard, and will still bite harder for some time before subsiding. If it would take two years as predicted for the global economy to recover, all of us in our territory here would have to embrace measures in place and jettison our love for foreign products. Let us also utilize our raw materials here in sufficient quantities by feeding SMEs that would emerge.

May the Good Lord Bless Nigeria.