The ‘Buy Naija to Grow Naira’ Scam
Facebook just reminded me of how much ‘Buy Naija to Save the Naira’ trended in 2016.
Back then this hashtag was ran by the presidency (or is it the vice president’s office?) and endorsed by the Senate. When we mentioned that it was a lazy attempt at improving the economy, we were called names, not the least, unpatriotic.
Someone like Ben Bruce rubbed his purchase of Innoson vehicles on our faces as evidence of how much the #BuyNaijaToSaveTheNaira campaign was working.
It’s five years now, what has become of the message of the town criers of this hashtag?
All these only shows how much we believe in the Nigerian exceptionalism and thus disregards the lessons of the past.
Countries like India and China that have made campaigns of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Made in China’ respectively have done so for FOREIGN market reasons.
India’s campaign was targeted towards attracting companies to set up shops in the country and take advantage of low wages and high population. China’s was to develop factory automation capability needed to produce mobile phones, medical devices, etc. for exports despite having the world’s biggest population.
Anchoring a campaign around urging the citizens to buy domestically produced good amounts to outsourcing critically thinking around what works for the economy. Little wonder, the campaign has failed, and will continue to fail if raised again.
By enacting policies that force Nigerians to buy locally produced or services, Nigeria loses the opportunity to drive innovation, efficiency and competition. Instead of hash tags encouraging Nigerians to buy indigenous products, our government should be creating laws that allow our businesses serve both domestic and especially foreign markets. That’s where the real work lies.
That’s where the real work lies for you cannot sustainably supply inferior goods to the world and blackmail them into buying under the guise of patriotism.
Local products become competitive when the ease of doing business is eased. When raw materials can be cleared at the ports with ease. When businesses are not overburdened with illegitimate taxes. When registering properties is not complicated.
But all these is hard work, and we would rather spew emotive rhetoric than engage in rigorous critical thinking to solve economic challenges. While at it, we can spin the narrative to label those who challenge these lazy approaches as unpatriotic.
Mark my words, very soon, they will go to town disturbing our ears drums with variants of “Our Product, Our Pride”, forgetting their roles as enablers of businesses. But we will be here reminding them of Samuel Johnson’s famous words,
“…patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
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