In the last couple of years several countries in Africa have marked 50 years of independence. Infact over 73 including Nigeria are marking their 58th year of independence this year. One issue that comes to the fore in reflecting on this anniversaries of independence in the continent is the worrisome continued dependence on the West in virtually all areas many years after the walls of colonialism fell. A good example of where many African nations including Nigeria have missed it is in the area of food and garment industry. It is worrisome that Nigeria which is supposed to be feeding the world is importing food because of the mentality that anything from the West is better. For instance, white rice is now associated with elitism, while sorghum and millet are seen as food for the poor.
So the country ends up importing more expensive rice instead of growing our own disease and drought resistant staple food. This affects our income and our health. It also destroys local farming and further drives the country into dependence. In the words of a Kenyan writer, Mukoma Wa Ngugi we are eating our way into hunger as we grow less and rely increasingly on genetically modified organisms and imported food. This problem seems to be in every facet of Nigeria. Our culture is fast eroding. It is sad that it is still very much easier for us to pay for other people’s culture. Europe and American products have finished mesmerising us it is Dubai and China that has now caught our fancy and continued the colonialism Chain. It is therefore important to note that political, economic and social change requires collective action because the forces confronting us are mighty. It took a big fight to stop colonialism and apartheid. It would also take such to stop neo-colonialism.
Both individual actions and collective responsibilities are required in the struggle to move the black race from perpetual slavery and servitude. The federal government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari must now genuinely set for themselves, the task of extricating the country from the cobweb of dependence. The era of making empty promises of providing basic amenities which ordinarily should not be the issue should be over. This should give way for a more fundamental approach that would lift the country from the bull strap of stagnation. At this juncture, it is therefore wise to commend the Abia State Government led by Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D for leading the campaign of our locally made products as well as providing enabling environment in Nigeria. Why can’t others emulate this? We should outgrow the basic issues of quarrelling over electoral fraud, ethnicity and do something meaningful with our resources. Nigerians should start thinking beyond their immediate comfort. The economics of today’s world has shown that there is no such thing as innocent purchase. Each kobo or Naira will benefit somebody.
For those who do not think that this circle of dependence can be broken, let them compare what we had on our Radio and Television in the 70s and 80s with what we have now. The influence of foreign music, films and comedy have been drastically reduced in our electronic media as our products are now competing favourably due to the development of our music and arts. Whether one believes it or not, Nigeria’s NollyWood is a revolution of a sort. The outburst of comedy arts like Alibaba, I go die, Basket Mouth and many others have driven the likes of Mr Spenser; from our TV. Nigerian writers have also told the world that they have what it takes. The Wole Soyinkas, Chinua Achebes and many others have stunned the world with their writings. We can certainly expand these frontiers. This would require massive investment in mechanised farming; agro allied businesses, small and medium enterprise (SMEs) as well as many other manufacturing and other industrial concerns.
The average Nigeria business man is content in building houses and giving them out at exorbitant rates or schools which are very expensive. It is now time to look towards the establishment of factories that would provide large scale employment. Let us start patronising what we produce let us develop confidence in our own. The more we consume our culture, the more we will produce and have a sense of national identity. In today’s world, Nigeria must produce if she must not perish.
Ahamefula Israel, a Senior Advocate of Nigerian Students, writes from Uturu. e-mail:email@example.com.