OPINION: Saraki And The Made in Nigeria Defi. By Cynthia Ferdinand

Date: 2017-01-09

"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose"- Lyndon Johnson

The word ''defi'' in French parlance means ''challenge.'' The distinguished Senate President Bukola Saraki, first threw the challenge last year, by initiating the move to amend the Procurement Act, particularly Section 34 of the law which gives discretion to government agencies about patronizing locally produced goods.

The 8th Senate under his tutelage taking the bull by the horn vowed that the word 'may' used in the Procurement Act will become 'shall' to compel agencies to only buy locally made goods.

Traversing the social media landscape, Saraki took to his twitter handle to call on Nigerian manufacturers to send him a tweet of products they are producing and their addresses so that he can retweet.

Immediately the offer was made online, many young Nigerians entrepreneurs responded. And thus, the Senate President became an advertising platform for Made in Nigeria products.

The made in Nigeria challenge initiative of the Senate President Bukola Saraki is one of its kind which Nigerians must key into in order to get to the nation's economic Eldorado.

Saraki's call to patronise locally produced goods can be likened to the French style of assimilation, where imposition of the nation's culture became the basis of civilization. Nigeria must not be left behind. For me, it is now or never.

Beyond the colonial era of assimilation which explains the uniformity in French colonies till date no one can learn the French language without understanding its culture but you can be a Nigeria without understanding or appreciating its uniqueness and sense of value.

What culture has Nigerians embraced in recent times since independent? This is a question begging for answer. It has remained a case of struggling to meet up with the standard of the western world and thus forgetting the basis of its existence and values.

It has also become a state of abandoning the immense achievements of the hero past, the renowned days of the groundnut pyramid to embrace oil dependency which breed the extant way of life as the French will say Il y a quelque chose qui cloche 'there is something ringing'In literal terms there is a huge problem.

Importation of goods and services and exportation of the best brains became the order of the day, loss of hope and faith for a country richly blessed with enormous natural and human resources given to us at no cost; great vegetation, the palm tree and its diverse product now the tides has to turn. It is time to embrace a new era "Made In Nigeria Era"

No one knows the word Patriotism in a country which seeks to be owned, cherished and upheld in honour and glory by its owners, the national anthem has equally become a tune for humming and the pledge a mere prayer recitation.

The 36 states all have one natural resources or the other, we are blessed with all species of trees. Let me ask, why import toothpick, turning stick equivalent, match stick?

We have all sorts of fruits yet we import fruit juices some even pose health threats, we import ethanol when we have Cassava because we cannot process, the renowned palm tree that can match our various food taste.

We import tomato and rice when we can process our natural tomato into paste; we import furniture's when we have trees like iroko, mahogany. We export in barrels to other countries and still import from other countries; we export our gold and then travel to other countries that refine to buy it. The list is endless.

The question now is where is our identity ? what can we genuinely do? Where is our stand?

It is therefore imminent that we support this initiative to boast local production, rejuvenate our ailing consumer system, and boast agriculture in the interest of our nation's economy. It is also the hope of many Nigerians like me that the immediate result from this challenge is to find measures through the round table to harness our capacity and produce in massive quantity for commercialization and exportation while benefiting from it as well.

The made in Nigeria challenge initiative of the Senate President aims to boost Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and connect investors to manufacturers that produce alternatives to imported product. It will showcase everyday products that are used by Nigerians locally that serves as an alternative to imported products.

Finalists will be invited to a made in Nigeria Roundtable at the senate where legislators, Government Agencies, business owners and consumers will review the business and provisions for further funding and support will be made where necessary.

While this may not go down well with Nigerian importers of foreign goods, it will also provide an opportunity for them to invest in any item of substitution for the imported products and grow the naira.

The Saraki Led initiative will bridge the gap between government agencies and local manufacturers and showcase the beauty of made in Nigeria products to the larger world

With the birth of the Made in Nigeria challenge we can have the right legislation that will benefit the small and medium scale enterprise with the right policies that will lift our abilities.

The 8th Senate's amendment of the procurement act to give priority to made in Nigeria goods in procurement process and various calls to embrace local manufacturing such as this is no doubt a step in the right direction.

Since 2nd of January videos of palm oil production, cassava chips and Aso-oke , pot making industry of Kwara, Adire Kampala production of Ogun State Made in Aba Shoes, leather bags from Sokoto and Kano have flooded the made in Nigeria social media platforms.

It is however pertinent that we appreciate the President of the Senate Abubakar Bukola Saraki for this great initiative.

I reiterate that I am #MadeInNigeria and I support #MadeInNigeria Challenge and enjoin Nigerians to join the challenge for our greater good. It's our participation that will ensure the success and sustainability of this project.

Il y a ici un defi et une grande opportunite pour le Nigeria - This is a challenge and a great opportunity for Nigeria.

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