NIGERIA, no doubt is an import dependent economy as statistics have shown that she imports goods and services that can be locally produced to sustain its over 200 million population, thus triggering off unfavourable trade balances and hyper inflation.
LAST week, the Central Bank of Nigeria increased the economic woes of a large chunk of Nigerians by lifting the ban it had placed on 43 restricted items.
These include rice, milk, cement, palm oil products, tinned fish, steel drums, tooth pick, wheel barrows, vegetable oil products, soaps and cosmetics etc.
EXPECTEDLY, the CBN unbundling jolted many people, some excited by it while many particularly non businessmen tongue lashed the step.
FOR the business community, the restriction when it lasted was ill advised because some of the raw materials to be imported were not being produced by local manufacturers and merely encouraged distortions in the forex market. Speaking under the aegis of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), the business community lauded the CBN gesture insisting that the forex crisis which the nation had grappled with was accentuated by the unnecessary restrictions of the 43 items which began in 2015 when the Federal Government placed a ban on 41 items, rice inclusive.
THE intention then was to encourage local production of the banned items and discourage their accessing through the foreign exchange in the official window.
THE Jonathan regime also followed suit by slamming a 100 per cent import duty and levy on rice to cage its importation and other commodities locally produced.
THE policy generated much rumblings and several economic difficulties forcing government to reduce the tariff regime to 70 per cent for importers and 20 per cent for rice millers. The Buhari regime however maintained a strong import quotas for import of certain goods and rice was not an exception.
MANY Nigerians are generally taken aback by the new CBN policy which has removed restrictions of some items banned almost eight years ago.
Though Nigerians are facing the harshest and most unprecedented economic woes in the nation’s history, yet, there is no justification for allowing some of the banned items coming into the country especially rice, tooth pick, wheel barrow and vegetable oil products.
THE restriction on some of the items particularly rice which local producers have made tremendous strides since 2017 must not be allowed to come into nought . The country does not pretend that it has the capacity to produce all her needs but there is no justification for importing rice, sugar, milk, pencils and tooth pick. All these we must cut down now.
THE restriction on some items particularly rice has brought enemies to our country, chiefly from foreign producers who like corruption are fighting back with strong media campaigns and blackmails. These rice producers backed by their foreign and local cohorts have held our country by the jugular through unbridled importation of joblessness and poverty into the country.
AN import independent nation is an economic parasite who depends on other countries to survive. Such a nation lacks sovereignty but exists at the mercy of the host community who manipulates them at will.
IT is high time we weaned ourselves from the culture of importation and produce enough goods and services for economic and political sustainability.
IT is imperative to remind policy makers and political leaders that rice merchants will do everything to neutralize our efforts to stop importation and be self reliant for their selfish and economic reasons. The challenge before the nation and its current leadership is to mobilize Nigerians to consume only what the nationals can produce and reject vehemently what it cannot produce.
NIGERIANS must realize that rice merchants and their local compradors are making strenuous efforts to ensure the failure of our patriotic zeal to discourage importation particularly things we have the capacity and resources to produce just with little mobilization.
WE cannot afford to transfer our national wealth to promote or sustain the wealth of other countries.
A nationalist and former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh in a clarion call on Nigerians to imbibe consumption of local rice warned that “a ship load of foreign rice brings a ship load of poverty and joblessness because importation sustains the producer’s economy.” With or without Ogbeh’s admonition, what integrity does a debtor nation like Nigeria has with a crippling public debt at N87 trillion importing ordinary tooth pick? A word is enough for the wise.