Posted by News Express | 21 August 2020 | 802 times
An activist and public commentator, Victor Ikhatalor, has written the National Assembly on the need to revive the economy by instituting a law that compels Nigerians, especially Ministries and Agencies, to buy made-in-Nigeria goods.
Titled, ‘An Open Letter to the National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria – Coronavirus Compliant Advocacy For A Law Compelling Government To Buy Made-in-Nigeria’, the letter was recently delivered to the National Assembly and duly acknowledged. In it, Ikhatalor, who is also known as Ambassador of Nigerian Industry and Business, gave reasons for this position. He wrote:
“In an article I authored entitled: ‘In Advocacy For Nigerian Industry and Business’, I posited that in the wake of Covid-19, the nations that will rapidly get their economies thriving and prospering again will be those that can create and sell to others.
“I went further to say that the bedrock of such economies is built on the ability to manufacture and offer services with the attendant hallmark of providing jobs for their people. At the very core of the provision of the majority of jobs in these economies is the ability of their indigenous industry and businesses to create.
“My position has not changed. The work to see any Vision turned into reality cannot be done in abstract or through wishful thinking. We must very clearly and unambiguously engineer a paradigm shift with the ultimate goal of turning our economy into a manufacturing and services hub.
“Our first task onwards this mission must be a law to compel all tiers of governments in Nigeria, their Ministries, Departments and Agencies to mandatorily buy, source and contract made in Nigeria, save that it cannot be made, sourced or done locally.
“To this end, I give notice that at the resumption of the National Assembly in September, I shall commence peaceful citizen advocacy outside the National Assembly Complex. Once began, this advocacy shall continue on a daily basis until such a time as conscientious, people-oriented parliamentarians step up to join hands towards the passing of this legislation.
“It is my hope that even now parliamentarians determined to see Nigeria take the next step will step up.”
Urging the lawmakers further, Ikhatalor said: “I write to you in my capacity as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and in exercise of my rights thereof. As Senators and Representatives, you collectively give expression to the idea of citizen representation in government, which is the hallmark of democratic experience. It is on this premise that I bring to your attention the following:
“Over the years, my advocacies, like our nation's woes have been multiple, however, as Covid-19 began to bear its fangs, it became obvious that like millions of compatriots, even though it is generally accepted that a whole lot of our societal ills are tied to a poor economy, I, like others have not accorded the economy it's true right of place.
“Affected by a pandemic that has spanned the whole of the globe, the ability to withstand the shocks and the existential realities of people in all countries have been clearly reflective of the efficacy or otherwise of their economies pre Covid-19.
“It has become crystal clear that our economy must become and be accorded the status of the ‘Holy Grail’ in our national order of priorities. You will find that in those countries better able to absorb the shocks of the pandemic and offer hope, their economies have that right of place.
“In the wake of Covid-19 and its attendant economic fallout here at home, it has become clear that we must make hard and resolute decisions that will endure to change our economic trajectory. This is not a time for cosmetic decisions or the usual visions without accompanying missions. There was Vision 2010 and Vision 2020, and even as we start again on a new Vision – without clear missions all visions will wane, unfulfilled.
“In cognizance that our myriad national ‘palava’ indexes are linked inexorably to our economic viability be assured that I hold an unshakable conviction in the justness of this cause. Collectively, the tiers of government of our national and sub-national federating units, their Ministries, Departments and Agencies, are responsible for the expenditure of foreign exchange amounting to billions of dollars yearly on procurement that could otherwise be done locally.
“Government must lead the people and demonstrate a firm commitment to stem the excessive overflow of foreign exchange that goes out of the country. The unquantifiable gains to the economy through the retention of a large chunk of this forex and the patronage of businesses locally cannot be overemphasized.
“In a period where our dwindling foreign exchange earnings are mainly going into debt servicing – something must give. We must make up our minds to give our people a chance. Roman soldiers were building roads 2000 thousand years ago. What excuses can we still have that we cannot build our own roads in these modern times, with modern schooling and technologies! We cannot possibly go on forever dependent on others to build – to create for us. We must emancipate ourselves from our mental slavery and believe we are good enough. The President’s recently commissioned Nigerian Content Tower reinforces that indeed we are good enough!
“We have reached an impasse! Our economy is basically non-functional. Already an impoverished nation, we are hemorrhaging jobs as Covid-19 continue to loom. No matter where any of us may stand on the imperative of this legislation, we can all agree that we must move from being a dumping ground nation towards a productive one. Our quest towards import substitution can no longer be in abeyance.
“In a country weighted by a deficit of trust from the governed towards those who govern, government must lead! Simply put – it won’t do for a father to tell and encourage his children, that due to loss of earnings they can no longer shop in the supermarket but must make do with garri and groundnut from the farm, while he, himself still continues to do with shop bought cornflakes and beverages,” he noted.
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