The Need To Scale Up Patronage Of Made-In- Aba Goods – By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Nigeria’s economy has been in a very bad shape for sometime now.Data released by the National Burea of Statistics (NBS) in November 2016 showed that the economy contracted further by 2.24 percent in the third quarter of 2016, having slipped into recession following another contraction in output in the second quarter of 2016.
To say that Nigeria economy is limping is an understatement. The economy is bleeding and bleeding profusely as data also showed that headline inflation continued to rise, creeping up in December 2016 to 18.55 percent from 18.48 percent in November, and 18.48 percent in October, thus sustaining the upward momentum since January of that year.
The situation mounted serious pressure on the naira because of import dependency .This situation is necessitated by weak, narrow export base where revenues generated from oil and gas account for over 70 percent of our foreign exchange earnings.
In the past, what other economies of the world have adopted to pull through this gloomy situation is to boost local production thereby saving millions. This calls for the need to scale up the patronage of made-in-Aba goods. On this note, nobody is advocating that the federal government should severe its trade relations with other countries, rather made-in -Aba products can be promoted through placing high tariffs on imported military wears thereby discouraging their importation. This effort if implemented will go along way in ameliorating the economic woes of the country by saving the nation the foreign currencies expended on importation of good and services( even those we have the capacity of producing).
It is pertinent here to enforce the call made by former Senate President, David Mark,to the Federal Government to ban importation of all goods that Nigerians have the capacity to produce locally, while declaring the first Made-in-Aba Fair open in Abuja.
Describing Aba as the” catalyst of industrial revolution in Nigeria’’, Mark said government should henceforth discourage importation of foreign goods because Nigeria has no business importing those goods which do not measure to the quality being produced in the country.
While commending the people of Aba for doing the nation proud through the spirit of enterprise and innovation demonstrated in quality products and goods made available through local skills, he said“We have no business importing military boots when what is produced here locally is more superior to that which is brought into the country.
“We have no reason to import ballot boxes for INEC. This locally made ballotbox is actually better than the one INEC has been importing.
“Let us ban all that we can ban to ensure a quick take-off of our industrial sector. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should not hold us down in economic slavery.
`If there is any city that deserves the presence of the Bank of Industry, it is Aba city,’’ Mark said.
Mark called for a radical transformation of the Nigeria’s industrial base by providing adequate facilities to support the efforts of indigenous producers to boost economic growth,and urged relevant agencies of government to create adequate awareness on the need for introduction of policies that would enable local initiatives to thrive.
Unarguably, Abia has comparative advantage in leather and garment cluster in Aba and the state’s unrelenting efforts to supply of wears to Nigerian military and para-military outfits are yielding results.There is also the need for the federal government to deploy in massive scale, the consistent calls to issue a directive to military and para- military outfits in the country to procure their wears from Aba where there is a ready market for the products.
There is a strong and passionate appeal for the federal government to buy into this project.Now that the country’s economy is becoming gloomier with each passing minute, patronising made-in -Aba military wears will save our scarce foreign exchange and provide employment opportunities for thousands of our youths roaming the streets unemployed.
On this note, the contributions of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as the brand ambassador of made-in- Aba products should be highly commended. He has marked himself out as a good brand ambassador by influenceing people’s perception of products as well encourage them to patronise the product. The governor has also fulfilled another important function of brand ambassadors by fostering strong relationships between the custonmers and the brand.
Gov.Ikpeazu has taken advantage of every opportunity to market the made-in – Aba wears.One of the occasions is the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum held in Lagos where Governor Ikpeazu did not take chances to launch made-in -Aba shoes. This excited former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who served as one of the panelists, to place an order for pairs of shoes.
This also prompted the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to urge other military and paramilitary outfits in the country to emulate the army by immediately banning the purchase of all imported foot wears in preference for locally produced ones.
According to him, “this is the essence of the amendment of the Public Procurement Act by the Senate . The new law compels all Ministries, Department and Agencies of government to compulsorily give preference to goods and services which can be sourced locally. We believe one of the gains that our country will derive from this recession is to make our people look inward and patronise locally made goods”.
While Governor Ikpeazu is fulfilling his beat in marketing the brand” Aba”, all hands must be on deck to achieve this vision.
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