“The other day we bought diesel at about two hundred and thirty Naira a litre and as we use about four hundred litres of diesel every day for our two shifts, multiply that by 26 working days and you get N2.3 million monthly? ”
By Nworah Maduabuchi
IF Nigeria should get up today with policies to protect her infant industries she will not be the only country to have traveled that road.
In 1489, England through King Henry VII, the US in 1791 through her Infant Industry Industrialization Policy, Germany in 1841, Japan in 1868 by Emperor Meiji and most recently in 1978 by China’s provincial leader Deng Xiaoping all blocked imported manufactured goods from the rest of the world to protect their infant industries and ushered their nations to industrial boom.
But our government economic advisers who should realize that economic is not rocket science but common sense will not advise our leaders to toe this sensible path because in promotion of the neoliberal economic policies that have never been adopted in any of the world’s developed economies.
Mr. Terso I. Orngudwen spokesperson to the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) blamed the inability of his agency to curtail dumping of imported goods in the country to government directive to the agency to leave the ports and wondered how the agency is supposed to check dumping of goods in Nigeria without its presence at the entry point-the ports.
He further decried the insincerity of the government of the countries in Asia from where those foreign goods originate, who in his words will tell you the goods are not being produced for Nigeria only for the same goods to enter Nigeria from Benin Republic through the Seme Borders.
“However, SON is fine tuning a project called product certification to sensitize Nigerians on the products of their motherland (Nigeria). This we have slated will kick off in 2018 and through this project, we will work to turn Nigerians back to love their goods of the country,” he said.
As we talk about the problem of dumping, another problem which has eclipsed government efforts to industrialize the economy, epileptic power supply comes to mind.
Engr. Arinze Okwuosa of Cutix Plc whose company operates on 24 hours power generation due to epileptic national power supply expressed regret that Nigeria is nowhere toward steady electric power supply and wandered if we want to industrialize on charcoal fire.
“We cannot rely on public power supply. It is not just buying the distribution companies, but there has to be integration of the components sectors of the power sector, generation, transmission and distribution; the distribution machinery is they in top working order? Assuming we can generate up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity; can the cables and transformers we have today carry them? We must go back to the basics, get the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure in top shape to give optimal service to consumers of electricity,” he said.
He pointed out that the problems of the power sector is not far removed from Nigeria’s perennial problem of corruption that has severely stunted her growth, and development as a nation and denied Nigeria her place in the comity of industrialized countries.
Lending credence to this, Engr. Chinenye Obi of NGOBROS & COMPANY NIG LTD, said: “The other day we bought diesel at about two hundred and thirty Naira a litre and as we use about four hundred litres of diesel every day for our two shifts, multiply that by 26 working days and you get N2.3 million monthly. If we have stable energy from the national grid we may not spend up to ¼ of that amount, but where is the power?”
Engr. Obi likened the quagmire of the power sector to corruption at nation’s Ports where port officials, instead of demanding for government approved 5% duty on imported raw materials ask for over 20% duty.
Consequently, industrialists are compelled to running from one office to the other to seek redress, and by the time this is eventually done, the raw material imported have incurred over 30% demurrage.
“So it is not really that government is not serious about diversification of the economy from oil to agriculture and manufacturing but I feel that may be it is our greed that is eating up the little gains we might have or that might help us,” she opined.
Power supply is crucial to national development. With a vibrant power sector industries would perform at optimum capacity. Small business men and women would be able to plan and live their lives with minimum costs. The multiplier effect on the people could be tremendous. Currently, the costs of running generators are overwhelming.
It adds to production cost. It makes importation more attractive; it compels manufacturers to produce their goods outside Nigeria.
And if it is true that a lot of energy is generated in the country but not used due to the limited capacity of our national grid, then provision must be urgently made for all generated energy to be utilized appropriately. The national grid concept has become outdated; it should be jettisoned; smaller units of power generation and distribution should be created across the country.
That way, the competitive dynamics of the spirit of efficiency which underlies privatisation would be felt by all on this country.
It is not that we do not know that Nigeria cannot continue to be a mono-product economy where our exports being essentially unprocessed commodities becomes vulnerable and unable to withstand shocks that arise when there is a sharp decline in the prices of commodities in the international market to change our agricultural commodities into finished industrial goods as South Korea that started with US in 1962 has done and today has become an industrialised nation.