How Nigerian Mentality is Killing Nigerian Economy By Kabir Akintayo
“For every time we bring in a shipload of rice, we also bring in a shipload of unemployment, because you are transferring your wealth to sustain other economies. Importing toothpicks cost Nigeria $18 million, and tomato paste, $400 million”
Those were the words of a former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, during a budget defense session at the National Assembly in 2019 where he pricked the conscience of the Nigerian upper and middle class and their obsession with foreign stuff which kills the local economy.
Speaking further, Ogbeh accused Nigerians of importing Pizza from London and UK, a statement that has now been verified to be true. A lot of the money-miss-road people we have in this country are suffering from low self-esteem and inferiority complex. They invest a lot of their ill-gotten wealth importing and consuming expensive foreign foods, drinks, shoes and clothes and other irrelevant items, just for the purpose of bragging among friends and oppressing neighours. The ignoramuses kill their own country by destroying jobs, rendering the youths useless and helping other countries to develop their manufacturing sector and providing jobs for their youth population.
According to Euro monitor International, a London-based market research company, the consumption of foreign drinks, by Nigerians in 2021 was estimated at around 33.1 million liters compared to 2015 when it was estimated at around 26.7 million liters.
Despite a decrease in importation due to the exchange rate, Nigeria still rated among the top 10 nations that consumed the highest most expensive drinks.
Experts have linked the high dollar exchange rate to importation. It is general knowledge that when there is a high level of importation, the currency of that country will be valueless. Only exportation of good and services should be encouraged.
However, the government of the day tried to boost local production by closing borders for importation and empowering local farmers to produce more consumable products, such as rice, yam, millet, maize, etc.
Unfortunately, Nigerians couldn’t bear the pains and make the sacrifice, they missed the foreign rice and complained about the temporary burden of a policy that could have helped the entire populace by putting the economy on a sound footing.
Any society that cannot produce what they consume cannot stand as a Nation. The currency will not be strong. Inflation will always be on the increase, prices will skyrocket even the midst of dwindling purchasing power, there will be no jobs and then young people will become angry, restless and dangerous, and then insecurity will rise… That is the fate of Nigeria and Nigerians today, unfortunately.
Using Russia as an example, the country’s currency, ‘Ruble’, hit 52.3 to the dollar on Wednesday 27th of July, 2022, an increase of roughly 1.3% and its strongest level since May 2015. How are they able to achieve this pace, despite the ongoing war with Ukraine, with all the sanctions from the United States (U.S) and United Kingdom (UK)?
The fact that Russian is the world’s largest exporter of gas and second largest exporter of oil. The European Union depends largely on Russia oil and gas and has been spending billions of dollars per week, to acquire these products, despite the ongoing sanctions.
Russian, after cutting ties with Europe, increases the prices of its product, and while many EU countries are intent on cutting their reliance on Russian energy import, the bloc relied on them for 41% of its gas import and 36% of its oil, according to Eurostat.
Another fact Nigeria needs to learn from Russia is that, after the sanction on Russia, they couldn’t import as much anymore, thus, spending less of its money buying stuff from elsewhere.
Therefore, the three methods used are; increased energy prices, capital controls, and cutting off importation.
Nigeria today is the leading oil exporting country in Africa, with a population of about 200 million persons. 60% of the country’s populace depends largely on imported goods.
Another issue is that, the government also lacks the political will to instil discipline in the mind of Nigerians, to promote made in Nigeria products and reduce importation to its barest minimum.
Now, Nigerians are complaining about the soaring prices of food items as food inflation figures worsen. From 19.50 per cent in May, the figures changed to 20.60 per cent in June. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the composite food index rose to 20.60 per cent in June 2022 on a year-on-year basis even as the rate of changes in the average price level declined by 1.23 per cent compared to 21.83 per cent in June 2021. In a report titled “Consumer Price Index May 2022”, the NBS stated that the rate of changes in food prices compared to the same period last year was higher due to higher food prices volatility caused by COVID-19.
To the common man, federal government is to be blame, to the learned, it is a collective effort but major stakeholders in the sector must be carried along.
As at today, one dollar is now N710, with a projection that before December, one dollar will valve at N1000. Government must take strict methods to curb the surge before the nation becomes another Sri Lanka or Venezuela.
Another way Nigerians contribute to the country’s economic woes is the illegal method they use in acquiring dollar, through sham Visa applications. These persons use invalid visa application to request for dollar at the official exchange rate, after which it will be exchanged at the black market. They do this with the collaboration of Bure De change agents.
Even though government has launched arrests on people doing illegal dollar transactions, many still get involved in the illegal business.
To this end, it will be a collective effort from the government, stakeholders and cooperation of the populace to revive our economy. Without the support of the citizens, it will be a hard job for a any government to stabilise the economy. There is need to instil discipline and embrace our local products and reduce importation. All these should be done with the help of government, by providing conducive environment, training and tools for empowerment.
Nigerians are very creative, hardworking and innovative, there are existing business, companies and ideas that can be promoted to international standards. We need one another.