Written by Adeshewa Kowontan
On the road to tomorrow
There is no use restating the rhetoric of Nigeria’s economic woes and ghosts of both past and present. We all know too well the problems like the back of our hands. We also seem to know what the solutions should be. In that vein this piece is not a revelation but a reminder of what we know and need to do.
We have failed. As a point of departure, we need to admit that as a people 170million of us have failed ourselves. Not only ourselves but the incoming generation. I know many of us will say it is not ‘my’ fault or ‘our’ fault it is ‘them’, the leaders who have plundered our common resources. But I put it to you that it is this ideology and mental divide of us vs them that is the major obstacle we face in solving the myriad of challenges bedevilling us.
Will we decide to fail ourselves and our children because they (the leaders) have failed us? My guess is as good as yours. No. We can no longer fold our hands and watch our economy and society slide to greater depths in every department. This land called Nigeria is ours to plough and not to ponder. It is ours to make better and gift to our children. I said earlier this was about reminding us of solutions.
Recently a friend of mine was getting married and her aso-Ebi was significantly above 20,000 naira. I had no issues with this because she is a good friend and i was not sad parting with that money. I believed she was worth it and more. What burdened my mind however was that this fabric was a beautiful imported Swiss lace. I did a quick calculation in my head that if my friend sold 1,000 pieces at 30,000 of this fabric it would come to (30,000,000) thirty million naira. Which at today’s Parallel market rate of 380 naira to one dollar would be 78,947 dollars in foreign earnings to whatever country the fabric originated from.
Hmmmm I then went further and did a calculation of that amount by the number of weddings in Lagos alone every Saturday as a sample (lagos is where I live and where I am familiar with). I decided on a random number of 100 (certainly it is more than that but to balance the varying cost of the fabric I felt this number was ideal).
Now 100 X 78,947 dollars equals 7,894,736 (seven million, eight hundred and ninety four thousand, seven hundred and thirty six dollars or three billion naira).
Just like you I paused. Eight million dollars!!! You know what they say numbers don’t lie. I didn’t know we were spending that much money (most likely more when you add Ankara and Guinea brocade) on fabrics alone and on just one Saturday. I was jolted and thought to myself what if rather than imported fabrics we bought the lovely locally produced adire for asoebi? Why not? Ghanaians use their kente for ceremonies and they look gorgeous. (In my opinion) Any industry would thrive with an inflow of three billion Naira weekly. More jobs would surface and it would directly impact the naira value because it would reduce the demand for the dollar by almost almost eight million dollars weekly. Most of all it would put money in the hands of the poor people who produce the fabric and allow money to circulate in different directions of the economy rather than been trapped or concentrated in the hands of a few.
Wow! We didn’t even need the government to do that. Adire is readily available. The local producers will get better as they continue to produce more and more which is what has happened in China. We also hold the power in our hands. An article I read recently said that 170 million fashion conscious people with no textile industry was a huge disaster. I agree totally. Change lies with the decisions we continue to make in our daily lives. This is one of the many solutions we need to implement. The government will not do this for us. Yes we have failed but we can embark on the journey to economic boom once again. Ignoring the problem wont make it go away. Lamenting about it will not make it go away. Only action will. It’s a long road to tomorrow but then we cannot continue living for today. Like it or not tomorrow will come!
Impossible is nothing.
Adeshewa holds a Bsc in political sciences and a Masters degree in International Law.