Nigerians are guilty of favoring foreign-made goods and services at the expense of the locally manufactured ones. They also prefer services rendered by foreigners even when there are locals that can do those works. In as much as it’s not every Nigerian that harbors this bias against locally made goods and the services rendered by the locals, the number of those that value foreign goods and services supersede that of their counterparts on the other side. The bias even exists in agricultural produce, where Nigerians will rather pay heavily for foreign rice than go for the local ones that have almost the same quality. Today, there is this accepted notion that only the poor go for Nigerian-made products while the rich use foreign ones. This, of course, is not true. However, fact remains that Nigerians, who can afford to, opt for imported goods, irrespective of their country of origin.
But, sometimes, you don’t have to blame people for seeking foreign products even though the Nigerian equivalents exist. Yes, some people use foreign goods because they want to show off but that is not the case all the time. There may be no excuses for people that exhibit this prejudice in the case of food items and agricultural produce but when it comes to manufactured goods, it becomes a different ball game altogether. The truth is that Nigerian manufacturers encourage the preference for foreign goods; they are doing their best to push out their customers.
In a little survey I conducted last year, concerning Nigerians’ preference for foreign clothes and shoes, I realized that many people will not go for Nigerian-made clothes and shoes if they have a choice. From the information I got, I discovered that the quality, quantity, and price of Nigerian-made products are some of the reasons discouraging Nigerians from patronizing Nigerian-made goods. How these factors do this are briefly discussed below.
- The Quality of Nigerian Products as a Discouraging Factor
If you ask the person sitting next to you to compare Nigerian and foreign products, they will not waste time telling you how odd it is for you to even consider the two are comparable. Some will tell you, you are living in limbo to think Nigerian products are in any way closer in quality to foreign ones. Believe me, these people are not saying something out of place because some Nigerian producers exhibit this “anyhowness” with their products. It is as if they don’t consider Nigerians good enough to enjoy good quality products. As a result, they plague the nation with things that are not worth the value for their money.
- Quantity as a Hindrance to Patronising Nigerian Products
A good example I will use here is the discrepancies between the size of the 50kg bag of local and foreign rice. Maybe the scale used for bagging Nigerian rice is different from the one used for foreign rice. Even a child can comfortably carry the 25kg local rice without qualms. This makes one wonder why Nigerians are bent on lying and cheating in everything.
- Price of Nigerian Products as a Discouraging Factor
It is ironic that the prices of some Nigerian products are trying so hard to compete with that of their foreign counterparts but their qualities cannot measure up. This is common among clothes and footwear. For this, many people will rather go for foreign ones that are more durable, even if they are used, than opt for local ones that can disappoint their users.
Note that some Nigerian manufactures are doing their best to measure up with the international standard but many are still dragging them behind. The few bad eggs among these producers are the reason the manufacturing industry will take a long time to revive because many people are still not comfortable with Nigerian-made products. This is because if no one buys what these manufacturers make, they will definitely be discouraged from producing more. I hope that does not happen.
But I believe the reason we have substandard locally made products in our markets is that the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is not doing its job as it is supposed to. Today, it is uncertain if this agency conducts a quality assurance test on all these goods flooding our markets. If they do, then how come many of our locally made products do not give Nigerians the value for their money?
We can’t talk of employment and creating jobs if our manufacturing sector is down. But, unfortunately, the manufacturing sector can’t rise if the products they release into the market are substandard. These are problems that should be addressed as soon as possible. I believe SON needs to do more than it’s doing now.