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A case for strong manufacturing base


If, through a survey a group of young Nigerian post primary students are asked were they would want to work after graduating from the universities, the likely preferences would be banking institution, and IT/Telecoms company, oil and gas company and so on. It is unlikely that any of them would mention the real sector of manufacturing as a preferred option. This is to state real sector in Nigeria is seriously challenged and it is being relegated to the background. Just as not many people would want to work in the manufacturing industry, the sector appears to be consistently in distress except perhaps, the Food and Beverage and the Pharmaceutical sub sectors. However, the real sector also referred to as brick and mortar is the soul of every because they create more jobs and help to grow domestic wealth, especially if the real sector is export driven. A strong manufacturing base would also help to prevent or minimise huge import tendencies.

All told, the growth in manufacturing firms has been marginal in the last decade. The dismal performance of the sector, can be attributed to high cost of doing business in the country such as infrastructural defects, multiple taxation, insecurity of lives and property, unfair trade practices which result in massive smuggling, fake items etc which pose a big threat to the business environment. Other factors include poor funding available to business, high interest rate and lack of long- term financing to businesses, inadequate human resources to run the businesses, lack of fidelity, lack of managerial capacity, low technology, poor patronage as a result of low purchasing power and low patronage governments, lack of motivation and poor implementation of government policies. There is also restricted access to market because the insufficient demand for products of medium sized industries imposes constraint on their growth. Lastly, the lack of basic and strategic industries such as the petrochemical and steel impedes the growth of these medium sized Nigerian firms.

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The challenges mentioned above have significant impact on this sector, they soon result in low productivity, too much sweat and little result, high rate of unemployment, increasing poverty, difficult to expand, and credit delinquency.

This domestic manufacturing process, which which come in the form of small and medium sized firms, have a lot of potentials that could easily transform the if properly managed and encouraged. As a remedy or a way forward, everybody should support the following suggestions which were often put forward by the operators in the sector that there is need for massive investment in infrastructure, which all other sectors are also cry- ing for. There is also the need for the streamlining and reduction of taxes payable by the operators in the sector. There is equally a call for the total over- hauling of national security apparatus, especially the police. Again, the real sector needs special incentives from government. There is the need to strengthen the efforts to block inflow of cheap imports and the elimination of fake products. Analysts also suggest the enthronement of law and order and due process; the creation of indus- trial clusters; the completion of all the phases of petrochemical industry and government sponsored marketing campaign to encourage patronage of locally produced goods.

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Again, energy is a critical infrastructure for economic growth and development. It is disturbing that many of our biggest industries have closed shop because of energy problems. How can we industrialise when an average small-scale industrialist spends over N40, 000 on fuelling generators daily while most feasibility reports are dumped for high cost of energy.

For the country to develop, we must address the energy problems, failing which we will continue to depend on others for our daily needs including tooth picks and common tee–shirts made in India and other emerging economies. The times are bad and the party is over. Sharing of public funds by a minute few must be stopped immediately if we are to progress as a nation.

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