Despite the move by the government to encourage patronage and consumption of locally made goods and services to save the dwindling Naira and ultimately grow the economy, consumers have not stopped the crave for imported items.
When THISDAY engaged some shop owners and shoppers in a chat, not too many seemed to believe in Nigerian products despite widespread campaign to promote made-in-Nigeria goods
According to Lola Agbaje, a boutique owner in Ogba, Lagos, “I have never sold Nigerian products in my store, not because I don’t value them but because my customers won’t even look at them twice; customers are foreign wears crazy and we have no option than to dance to their tune. Even now that they are shouting buy Naija here and there, customers attitude have not changed, in fact, the demand for foreign wears increases the more on a daily basis.”
A visit to the children section of Eko Idumota market further justifies Nigerians’ growing love for foreign goods as most consumers would not stop by until they sight a store where imported products are displayed.
A shop owner who did not want to be named told THISDAY that the trend in the market had always been the demand for UK or US products no matter how expensive they are because of the Forex challenge and for them as traders, the only way to remain relevant in the market was to stock their stores with over 80 per cent of imported items and few Nigerian wares for the purpose of the low income earners.
To Ifedayo Oni, a shopper at one of the chain stores in Ikeja, said she had never tasted a made-in-Nigeria rice and did not see any reason why she should do so.
“I’m a Nigerian, though I’ve lived most of my life outside the country, I’m scared of made in Nigeria products because I don’t trust the source. Besides, that is the culture in my home. Right from time, it has always been foreign rice or none,” she said.
According to the outcome of a market survey carried out by the National Association of Nigerian Traders, NANT, over 98.7 per cent of goods sold in chain stores across the country are foreign made .This implies that only 1.3 per cent of Nigerian made products are being sold in these stores.
The President of the association, Ken Ukaoha who expressed disappointment over the development noted that government campaign against Nigeria’s excessive flair for foreign products was yet to produce the expected effects.
Ukaoha added that if government actually meant business to change Nigerian’s interest from foreign goods, it needed to review the country trade policy which had since been redundant as a result of negligence.
“The last trade policy Nigeria had was in 2002 and it expired in 2002,up till now, that is what we still have when ideally, trade policy should be reviewed every five years. Unfortunately, trade policy of 2012 which is by now redundant is giving support to import because the thrust of the policy is import liberalisation.
“How can we encourage Nigerians to buy Nigeria products when most of the chain stores who we patronise sell foreign goods? One may say that some of these stores are not owned by Nigerians, but the fact remains that they are being patronised by Nigerians”