Soludo sets the tone with support for local content – TrendyNewsReporters
Top Stories

Soludo sets the tone with support for local content

The new governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, took off on a promising note last week, despite the embarrassing scene created by the wife of the former governor, Mrs. Ebele Obiano, and former Nigeria’s ambassador to Spain, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, at his inauguration. Before his inauguration, Soludo had promised to promote products made in Anambra. At his inauguration, he put his words into action.

 The boldest statement he made was that he arrived at the venue of the inauguration in a vehicle made by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited, which is based in Nnewi, Anambra State, while the outgoing governor, Chief Willie Obiano, arrived in a vehicle made by Lexus, a Japanese company. That endorsement of indigenous IVM by Soludo at a time millions of people were watching his swearing-in ceremony was a big advertisement, not just for IVM but for Anambra State and Nigeria. If IVM is patronized by more Nigerians, it will make Innoson Group richer. It will make the company pay more taxes to Anambra State and Nigeria. It will also make the company employ more people and reduce the unemployment rate in Anambra and Nigeria. It will also save the country’s foreign exchange.

 Soludo did not stop there. He wore an akwete material to the event. Contrary to what many people have come to believe, akwete is the original Igbo attire, not isiagu. The isiagu material is not manufactured in Nigeria, but the akwete is made in Akwete in Abia State. Though the lion is odum in Igbo and the leopard is agu, the lion inscribed on the cloth wrongly named isiagu has made many embrace it because of the qualities attributed to the lion. But by patronising the locally made akwete rather than the imported isiagu, Soludo also wants to promote indigenous manufacturers.

 In addition, Soludo announced that foreign wines and foods would not be served at the inauguration. He promised to serve local drinks and delicacies. He put this into practice. His thoughts and ideas on supporting locally made products were made clear in his inaugural address thus:

 “As we transit into a non-oil economy, our strategy is a small open economy framework embedded in 21st Century imperative of Everything Technology: we seek to bring the world to Anambra and take Anambra to the world especially in the context of the African continental free trade area. Our ‘Made in Anambra’ and ‘Anambra Standards’ agenda underpin this strategy. If you can produce it in Anambra, I will be your chief marketing officer, provided that your standard meets the ‘Anambra standard’—which is excellence. The Anambra State Government will only patronize Made in Anambra products and services unless such goods or services are not currently made in Anambra, then made in Nigeria, Africa, etc, in that sequence. When you see me in Innoson vehicles or in my Akwete dress with a pair of shoes made in Ogbunike/Nkwelle Ezunaka and Onitsha, we are making a statement.

 “Today, the light refreshment to be served after this brief event is abacha from Umunze, ukwa from Isuofia, Anambra rice with ofe akwu, nkwu enu from Awgbu, ngwo from Awa and Oba, and malt and bottled water from Onitsha.

 “As part of our ‘made in Anambra’ cultural renaissance and healthy living agenda, when you come to the Governor’s Lodge or attend any state government’s function, be sure to be served only ‘Made in Anambra’. We want to go back to where M.I. Okpara stopped with the palm revolution and plant millions of palm trees. In some years, we will seek not only to export palm produce but also fresh palm wine from Anambra State.”

 Soludo has started well. The challenge will be whether he will continue on the same path and whether the Nigerian asphyxiating environment will allow him to do so. For a country like Nigeria where state governors have no control over the security and electricity supply within their states—two fundamental keys to productivity— it takes grit to achieve something meaningful.

 However, despite the challenging conditions in Nigeria that make governance difficult, the counter-productive actions of leaders have aided the regression Nigeria has been experiencing. When the president, vice president, legislators, ministers, state governors and other political office holders make it clear that they don’t believe in Nigeria, the followers have no option but to follow their examples. How do these leaders display this? They do so by going abroad for medical treatment, sending their children abroad for higher education, riding in foreign vehicles, wearing clothes and shoes made abroad, serving meals and drinks made abroad at events, using foreign contractors for project construction, sending their money – earned and stolen – abroad for safekeeping. These erode the confidence of the people in the country. Therefore, the country haemorrhages.

 While we were growing up in Nigeria in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it was like a crime for a DJ to play Nigerian songs at a party of young people. Nigerian music was only played at traditional events like marriages, funerals, communal parties, etc. Radio stations played foreign songs virtually all day. Sponsors of shows regularly brought foreign musicians into Nigeria as the key attraction. Music producer, Kenny Ogungbe, noted that from the time the first privately-owned Nigerian FM station, Ray Power FM, started in September 1994, its founder, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, always complained whenever he heard his presenters playing nonstop foreign songs. Eventually, the message sank. Kenny Ogungbe, through his Kennis Music label, produced the Face2Face album of TuFace Idibia in 2004, which contained the hit track, African Queen. That watered the ground for the transformation of the Nigerian music industry. Today, the Nigerian music industry is a huge moneymaker. Most young Nigerians want to be musicians. Nigerian songs are now played nonstop at parties or radio stations or TV stations.

 Before the transformation of the Nigerian music industry, the Nigerian film industry had been transformed in the 1990s. Before 1992, there was nothing like the Nigerian film industry. Western films, Chinese films and Indian films held sway. Then a young Nigerian named Okey Ogunjiofor partnered with Kenneth Nnebue of NEK Links to produce a film called Living in Bondage on VHS tapes in Igbo language. It was well-received. Soon the Nigerian film industry exploded.

 Interestingly, none of these industries blossomed through the direct actions of politicians. Individuals made them happen. What Nigerian politicians have been doing is taking actions that directly kill the Nigerian economy. The football industry in Nigeria that used to blossom in the 1970s and 1980s has died. The reading industry has died. The manufacturing industry has died. The agricultural industry has died. The economy is on a steady decline. Poor leadership has been the culprit.

 If Nigerian leaders can genuinely patronise made-in-Nigeria products consistently for ten years, there will be a visible turnaround in the Nigerian economy. Crime and violence will drop. Hope will rise.

  No frontline country achieved its current status by depending solely on foreign products and services like Nigeria does. It is not possible for a country not to import certain things. But importing virtually everything impoverishes a country. Leaders who act like Nigerian leaders are economic saboteurs. That is why Soludo should be encouraged to stick to his promise.

 Twitter @BrandAzuka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button