The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has urged Nigerians to join the government in championing the campaign for patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods in order to improve productivity in the non-oil sector, diversify the economy and create employment.

He said increased patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods would also lessen the dependency on importation and lead to the strengthening of the naira.

Dr Fayemi stated this in a lecture “Productivity for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Employment”, he delivered as part of activities marking the 16th National Productivity Day Celebration in Abuja on Tuesday.

The event had in attendance the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); Minister of FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Bello; Minister of State for National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; Head of the Federal Civil Service, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and the Host, Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment.

Dr Fayemi stated that the preference for foreign goods over domestic ones was most cases product of a misplaced priority, stressing that the citizens must align themselves with government to tackle what he described as “defective rhetoric” against Made-in-Nigeria goods and ensure a paradigm shift in that regard.

The Minister, however challenged local manufacturers and entrepreneurs to take the issue of quality assurance more seriously and continuously improve upon their products in order to give the citizens value for their money whenever they patronise local goods.

Noting that societal advancement and productivity had always depended on the entrepreneurial  spirit of the citizens, Fayemi  challenged authorities of institutions of higher learning in the country to inculcate entrepreneurial and productive spirits in the youths, through carefully designed curricula that would increase their productive capacity.

He also called on employers of labour to establish systems hat accommodate on-the-job training programmes and internships to complement the efforts of government’s educational policies.This, according to the Minister would provide necessary skills acquisition and entrepreneurial trainings for the youths in addition to their certificates.

Fayemi said “The rationale behind this campaign has been an integral focus of numerous government policies geared towards import substitution. There is no doubt that increased patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods will lessen the dependency on importation, and lead to the strengthening of our Naira.

“Government’s travails will continue to be robust and all -inclusive in ensuring continuous productivity for sustainable entrepreneurship and employment on one hand. On the other hand, citizens must complement government’s efforts by embracing the requisite attitudinal change, whereby we all begin to look inwards and increase our patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods.

“The preference for foreign goods over domestic ones is many at times misplaced. As such, we must collectively tackle the prevalent defective rhetoric against Made-in-Nigeria goods, and ensure a paradigm shift in this regard. Government will continue to lead with policies to encourage this national priority, and support citizens’ led campaigns in this wise.

“As you may be aware, the Nigerian Senate for example, passed legislation in June 2016 to amend the National Public Procurement Act, to provide for a local content policy to assist local manufacturing. Similarly, the Federal Executive Council has carried out numerous executive actions to promote domestic patronage.

“Local manufacturers and entrepreneurs must also play their role by taking quality assurance seriously and continuously improving upon their products. Nigerians should not be cajoled to buy Made-in-Nigeria goods in order to build our economy and for the sake of national pride, but we should derive optimal value and customer satisfaction whenever we support our kinsmen by patronizing them.”

Speaking further, Dr Fayemi reinstated government’s commitment to assist the entrepreneurs overcome some of their challenges, including the issue of steady power supply, access to finance and supporting infrastructure, which he said were being tackled comprehensively with a view to creating enabling environment for productivity.

Government, according to him, was also addressing the country’s low ranking in the “Ease -of -Doing -Business” ranking, “in order to ensure our jurisdiction is more attractive to foreign investors.”