May 13, 2018

The Economic Enslavement Many Nigerians Don’t See

Substandard electronic imports to Nigeria

I live in Bukuru town, in Jos-South of Plateau State. Through the centre of Bukuru, a major road passes. It is the Jos-Bukuru Road. This very road is the hub of economic activities in the town.  Somewhere along this road, there is the town’s branch of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. It is where I bank. Going to and from the bank each time, I see an eyesore, the inferior imports of, mostly, electronic devices that include computer mice, mobile phone chargers, USB cables, headphones, shortwave radio receivers, torchlights, mp3 players, dry cells, etc.
What makes them an eyesore? It is the fact that they are substandard –you buy today, they fail tomorrow. So, you go again to purchase the same item, ensuring the enslavement continues. 

As long as this continues, we will remain a poor nation. It is a strategy that ensures we continue to work for nations from where these imports often come. These nations, mostly in Asia, become the vampires, sucking us slowly and leaving us malnourished. Eventually, they will leave us dead. This is what strikes me, each time I walk along this road. 

Many times, I have bought computer mice that I come home to realize aren’t functioning at all. Why would someone want to manufacture and sell an item that isn’t functional? It is, clearly, to suck you and grow fat in the process. 

It is not happening only in Jos. It is happening simultaneously in Bauchi, Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, and everywhere across the country. This is how one is able to weigh the grave dimension of the problem, i.e when seen at the national scale. 

The obvious kink is, no doubt, the unending demand for the dollar that it causes. It leads to the dollar scarcity (when it gets worse) and the subsequent devaluation of the naira, something that is inevitable when the supply of the dollar fail to meet demand. 

When the government of President Buhari came, it was confronted with the fall in the prices of oil. As a result, there weren’t enough dollars coming into the country (oil is the major source of foreign currency to the country.)  Consequently, the value of the naira crashed, from about  N197 to over N400 a dollar.  Then, painstakingly, it rose and stabilized at the current rate: N365 to a dollar. 
The government had promised, during its political campaign, that it was going to create jobs. One way was to ban the importation of agricultural products that we can produce. In view of this, the government of Buhari banned the importation of rice. It served two purposes: the creation of jobs in the agricultural division, but also helping to reduce the demand for dollars meant for the importation.  But obviously, there are “obscure” imports that are badly hurting the economy in severe degrees. They are these inferior electronic devices. 

We are told that Nigerian importers are often shown classes of goods, based on their qualities. It is said that they often opt for inferior ones, because Nigerians prefer to buy those ones, in view of their “affordability.” 

Sometimes a government needs to compel citizens to do things it is aware will benefit the citizens in the long run, despite how painful it would be to the citizens. 
The Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) is charged with the duty of ensuring such goods don’t come into the country. Clearly now, what this tells us it that SON is not serving the purpose for which it was created. It also means that there wouldn’t have been any difference if SON was non-existent. EFCC must look in their direction.

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