Feature: Criminalise Importation of Finished Consumer goods

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Our National Assembly needs to pass a bill making importing finished consumer goods a criminal offence on a par with embezzling state funds

Ayo Akinfe

[1] In this picture is the Jebba Bridge that straddles the River Niger. It was built by the British in 1915 to speed up the amalgamation of the protectorates of northern and southern Nigeria. At the time, it was arguably the most technological advanced piece of infrastructure in the country

[2] What I find utterly perplexing though is that the bridge was actually built lock stock and barrel in the UK and shipped to Nigeria as a finished product. The British did not consider the savage natives of modern day Nigeria intellectually capable of manufacturing such a contraption so did not even bother trying to train them to do so

[3] For the 100 years or so that Britain was in Nigeria, they made no attempt to establish a manufacturing base to produce finished goods from the raw materials they were extracting locally. I am perplexed as to how Britain was extracting palm oil from Nigeria and then shipping it to London to be converted into Palmolive soap. Surely, the logical course of action would have been to have a processing plant near Port Harcourt where most of the palm kernel was exported from

[4] When I look across the board, at no stage did the British ever consider building processing or manufacturing plants for say cocoa, groundnuts, kolanuts, rubber, ivory, etc or any of the minerals they extracted from Nigeria. Given that Enugu was the centre of the Nigerian coal industry, one would have thought that it would have been turned into a manufacturing city like say Birmingham, Liverpool, Sunderland, Leeds or Sheffield. In all these cities, coal spurred their industrial growth

[5] To be totally honest, this approach was extended to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. Even when the British built a massive railway bridge over the Victoria Falls in East Africa, the entire contraception was built in the UK and shipped over lock stock and barrel. They clearly did not believe that these savages were fully human. Measuring about 200 meters, the Victoria Falls Bridge linking Zambia and Zimbabwe was prefabricated in England by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company before being shipped to the Mozambique port of Beira and then transported overland from there. It took just 14 months to construct and was completed in 1905. Maybe they thought that even in 14 years these savages could not manage that

[6] In contrast, attempts were made to establish industries in India and most of the material the colonialists used there were manufactured locally. It is no surprise that today India is a global manufacturing powerhouse while we are still importing toothpicks, pizzas and pencils

[7] Even the most brutal colonisers seek to industrialise their domains because it makes economic sense to do so. The fact that even during the slave trade the Europeans did not establish their sugarcane, cotton and tobacco plantations in Africa makes me shudder. Basically, what they meant was that we are a continent of apes and the African is just a cut above the gorilla, so cannot really be trusted with anything. He cannot be an effective slave self without adequate supervision

[8] Just to put everything into context, when Japan brutally colonised Chinese Manchuria between 1931 and 1945, look at the kind of investment they poured into the area. Between 1931 and 1935 alone, look at Manchuria’s industrial output- Coal 15m tonnes, steel 450,000 tonnes, while in the textile industry, Manchuria produced 500,000 spindles and accompanying fabric factories produced 25,000 tonnes of cotton fabrics a year

[9] Today, our mentality has not changed. It as if the British have totally brainwashed us are have inserted memory chips into our collective heads. We are content to be eternal consumers without producing anything. Nigerians happily import flashy cars with no thought at all about local production, we shamelessly jaunt off to holidays in another developing nation Dubai without giving a thought to developing our own tourist industry and are glad to wear Rolex watches while we have no local factory of our own. Is the sub-Saharan African really human?

[10] It is time for the National Assembly to act. If you import consumer goods into Nigeria like clothing, footwear, generators, household appliances, etc, you are destroying Nigeria’s economy. We need a bill to punish offenders as it is bleeding us dry!

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