When high price does not determine high satisfaction in Nigeria

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After being enticed by the hyped N75k fabric worn by his colleagues, Musa sought to acquire one for himself. He was disappointed and distrusted the quality as original when John told him the price was 25k. Quickly John retorted: “Anh, you should have told me you wanted the big-boys’ Indonesia-quality fabric which is 85k”. On hearing 85k, Musa became convinced it was original, and began pleading to buy for 75k. Finally, John sold similar 25k fabric from another section for 80k to Musa who gauges quality by price. Without evaluating the utility-value of commodities in satisfying needs in the society, people get deceived by high price quotations.

 


Recently, several politicians try to emphasize the importance of their social contributions by quoting high price spent on them. “We built a 10billion naira bridge, 30billion naira website, 2billion naira logo, 50billion naira stadium, 50billion naira VIP-toilet.” Whether the projects are sufficient or relevant for improving people’s lives, productivity and opportunities for happiness is often neglected. Hence, many people get distracted measuring the high price spent on project, not the extent and duration of needs satisfied by the projects. Unfortunately, this focus on high price above need-satisfaction leads to inflation, embezzlement and loss of social-utility value.

 

Progressive societies are formed from the people’s agreement to collaborate in using their natural resources to produce what they need. Different sections of the society specialize in particular products whose surplus they trade for other sections’ products. Also, different sections combine different products to form higher products like metal, rubber and glass industries combine to produce cars. When each section produces something from their local resources, money becomes an agreed means of exchange that facilitates further productivity. But when some societies fail to produce anything from their resources, money becomes a tool for externally manipulating their resources.

 

Before the dawn of slave-trade and colonialism in Africa, different African kingdoms and communities owned and managed their resources. They had blacksmiths, goldsmiths, leatherworkers, bronze and ivory craftsmen, hunters, crop and livestock farmers, miners and other occupations. Though they lacked modern technology, each community managed the natural resources in their communities for production. And they were eager to learn modern ways of using their natural resources for production.

 

Unfortunately, the colonial masters invaded Africa and forcefully bounded unconsented communities and kingdoms under artificial national boundaries[1] for exploiting resources.[2] Using military force, the colonialists exploited and exported mineral resources from several African communities to their industries. They appointed, instructed and payed few indigenes to assist in administering and holding down other indigenes from revolting.[3] Since colonialists seized the production resources, Africans had to provide services to obtain money (tickets for purchasing items from colonialists’ industries).[4] At independence, colonialists replaced themselves with Europe-trained indigenes to continue supplying seized resources to European industries in exchange for tickets to foreign products.[5] This is how Africa became a money economy that depends on tickets (money) to survive on foreign products.

 

With the replacement of production with money-economy, Africans started competing on who got more tickets (money) for foreign products. They began valuing tickets for foreign products (money) above efforts for local productivity, non-monetized gifts, contributions and utility. This led to valuing commodities according to their price-tag, instead of their usefulness in the society. Hence, the man with expensive cars and wears gets more respect than the person cleaning the environment to be disease-free. The lady who paid someone to clean the compound feels higher than the neighbour who regularly cleans it himself. Wearing oversized designer clothes feels prouder than well-fitted non-designers, and eating expensively imported food feels prouder than home-grown nutritious food.

 

The main purpose for trading goods and services is to satisfy needs (physical, mental and emotional). And the important elements that ensure the integrity and continuity of trade are priceless positive values in the society. These are the values that bring social justice and ensures the sustenance of peace and progress in a society. These are the values that yield productivity, value, sustainability and lasting development and social justice.

 

Contrarily, the negative emotions of pride and greed pushing people to show superiority finds expression in quoting high price. This emphasis on high price removes values for irreplaceable but free gifts: love, sincerity, service, intelligence, initiative, risk, smile and loyalty. Yet, Nigerian kingdoms and communities will still retrieve access to their resources for local productivity. Then they will appreciate the value of these gifts in building a collaborative and productive society.

 

[1] Richard Dowden, Richard Dowden, Africa altered states, ordinary miracles. New York: Public Affairs, 2010. p3

[2] Cf. Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa (Abuja: Panaf, 2009). P.293

[3] Cf. Walter Rodney, p. 317

[4] Mogobe Ramose, “Discourses on Africa” in The African Philosophy Reader, Second Edition, Edited by P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux (New York: Routledge, 2003). p.3

[5] Walter Rodney, op. cit. p 317