Many Nigerians are complaining about the constant fall in the value of the Naira and they blame the Government. But is the government really to blame? In truth, our insatiable appetite for all things foreign is to blame. I always fly Arik Business Class whenever I am traveling abroad except Arik does not fly on that route. Not only is an Arik ticket a fraction of the cost of a British Airways ticket, but the money I pay to Arik circulates in Nigeria and helps firm up the Naira’s value.
As I speak to you today, a British Airways Business to London is ₦2,103,666 while Arik Business is ₦551,545 yet our elite still fly BA. But though Arik offers an affordable alternative to British Airways and other foreign airlines, our big men prefer to pay double what Arik charges to BA and other foreign airlines for the same services and yet they complain about the value of the Naira.
I have Nasco cornflakes and I have eaten Kellogs cornflakes. In terms of nutrition and taste they are almost indistinguishable. Yet our elite who will rather eat Kellogs than Nasco cornflakes, wonder why the Naira is falling! Even something like Quaker Oats can be substituted with corn meal known locally as pap. Obasanjo Farms of Nigeria and other large scale poultry farms have the capacity to provide chicken for the entire nation. Since that is the case, why are we even buying imported chicken?
In fact what is wrong if every family in Nigeria has a poultry in their backyard to give them eggs and meat? My steward went to Makoko, which is one of the largest fishing communities in Lagos. He wanted to buy fish and they were selling imported frozen fish! Yet in the very waters in front of them, there exist fresh fish that is more nutritious than the cheap frozen fish they were selling.
We keep spending over 1 Billion Naira importing rice when our own farmers are capable of meeting our national demand for rice. But for some reason, Nigerians just prefer to buy imported rice. The imported rice we buy in Nigeria is not as good as our local rice because it has been stored for years in silos and treated with chemicals.
Moreover, every time you buy it, your money is going out of Nigeria to service an economy in Asia. The end result is that their currency gains value while ours loses value. Have you ever wondered why European Premiership Clubs are so interested in Nigeria? It is because Nigerians spend billions traveling to Europe to watch their games, buy their merchandise and promote their leagues.
Yet, back at home, we would not be caught dead watching our own local league. If we will not spend money on made in Nigeria goods and services, how can we expect our Naira to hold its value and appreciate? Obviously we can not cut ourselves off from the world. No nation is an island, but at least we can fly Nigerian airlines, eat locally produced food and patronize our football league.
If we do this, not only will our economy grow and produce jobs for Nigerians, it will also make our goods and services improve in value such that they will be attractive enough to be imported. I bought Innoson vehicles as official cars for my staff. I have never lived to regret it one day. They are comfortable and durable. But most of all, I know that my purchase helps to keep jobs in Nigeria and improve the value of the Naira.
I urge you to do the same. We have no other country but Nigeria and it is you and I that will make it what it is. If we buy Naija We Will Grow Naira. My name is Ben Murray-Bruce and I just want to make Commonsense!