By Teniola Akeju
Before I begin, let me emphasize that although I’m a law student, I’m not writing in light of any sound legal knowledge of the economy and definitely not with any special knowledge I’ve gained from any Professor, Course or Class that has empowered me with expert knowledge on the economy or matters related thereto.
The issue of the Nigerian currency is one which has everyone in every corner jumping and rallying for or against President Buhari or the CBN Governor. It’s inevitable and perfectly understandable. They are the direct faces or names responsible for these sectors of the country so we must hold them to account. But is President Buhari really so inept that in less than a year in charge, he has almost completely destroyed a buoyant economy?
In all these talks of currency value or no value, I daresay the direct culprits in the devaluation of the Naira are the citizens of the country. We have to take a minute and reassess ourselves as a people – individually and collectively.
From what I’ve been able to understand, the value of the currency is directly determined by a predictable composite, of which one of the most critical is the aggregate contribution of economic production to the gross domestic product of the economy. That means, a country with a rich production system will simultaneously have a healthy currency. Simplified, if we produce, we export and when we export, if the growth of exports is significant, production and employment also expand and like magic, the entire economy accelerates. This thing is not rocket science. But Nigeria is a mono – producing state. And the value of that one thing we produce – actually we don’t produce it, it’s just there and the foreign oil companies extract it for us out of the goodness of their hearts – has reduced drastically (we have the ingenuity of the Americans in discovering alternate sources of energy to thank for that). So I don’t know, happy poverty, I guess.
Situations aren’t quite so dire yet. As a people, we have to start thinking and making conscious efforts to produce basic things we need – soap, school bag, matches, pencils, tooth-pick! Cow skin is used to make leather and the best thing we’ve done with it is Pomo!
And don’t make the argument that there’s no capital. Nobody is saying you should set up another Dangote Enterprises by the end of the year – all one needs is a couple hundred thousand that can be borrowed from aunts and uncles. And when we see a Nigerian doing these things, the first thing to do is definitely not to compare with a foreign product. Of course it’s better, that’s not the point. The point is, if we don’t make the choice now, sooner or later, there won’t be a choice to be made.
The most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard against buying Nigerian products is that Nigerian products are sub-standard. Do you know how many years it took for foreign products to reach the standards they have reached? Just three years ago, charging ports on blackberry phones were coming out of the phones – that didn’t stop us from going out en masse to buy Blackberry phones. And what did they do with the money? They improved; they learnt from their mistakes and produced better phones. Okay so, maybe Blackberry is not the best example here, but you get the point. Apple, for instance, a company that has really faced everything a Business can face – yet it’s still here, releasing the same version of the same phone with a different name every year. Because Americans do what they’ve always done best – they stand by their own. Which is arguably what has made America the biggest country in the world today.
So maybe the next time you want to tweet on American Twitter, from your American IPhone dressed in your American designer clothes, about how President Buhari has completely destroyed your country because you’ve been unable to buy American things, you remember how an American citizen is somewhere making billions of dollars from your every tweet, paying millions in Tax to the American government and increasing the value of the dollar to the Naira. Then you remember that instead of paying DSTV 16500 to watch Manchester United lose to Sunderland, Warri Wolves isn’t so bad and there’s ACTV and HiTv; instead of Airtel, Etisalat or MTN (yes, those guys!), there’s Globacom; Maybe try out NASCO or those shoes your neighborhood cobbler showcases all the time. Innoson Motors is making waves right now, how about we jump on that the way Americans jumped on Ford motors? There’s a tomato glut in the country and we import tinned tomato paste.
So there it is. We have to buy Nigerian to save the naira. Not just save the Naira now, but develop a country we can be proud of. This is not a matter of government policy – it is the citizens making a choice to save our country.