Tuesday, 2 August 2016

An open letter to Chief Eric Odinaka Umeofia C.E.O of Erisco Foods Limited

Dear Chief Eric,

If there are ten entrepreneurs I admire in Nigeria, you are among them. I love your passion for this country (against all the critics). I watched on NTA and heard on radio, too, the way you sent trailer filled with goods to the military fighting boko haram (a gesture that our oil moguls have failed to replicate).

The day I watched your short interview on NTA (I wonder how I became so addicted to this TV station) my admiration for you grew. You talked about how your uncle failed to help you because he assumed you were such a failure. This did not stop you from chasing your dream. After listening to you, I vowed never to put my faith in the hands of anyone. Never!

I have also seen the way you canvass for people to use more made in Nigeria. I think that is remarkable especially in the face of dwindling economy. We need to use our own to grow our economy. You are one of the unsung heroes of Nigeria today but I hope one day posterity will look on you.

However, something happened today that has made me want to reconsider my admiration for you. Like most Nigerians, I have lost hope in Nigerian products because they don't always have us at heart, rather, they need our money.

I was really broke today (yes, I am not under any employment) and was very hungry too. I had just two hundred and fifty naira with me and decided to buy spaghetti and cook because the mama put ration has really diminished. I bought the spaghetti for 200 naira (the last time I bought it, it was 150, Buhari factor I guess). The remaining 50 naira I used to buy your 'Ric-Giko sachet tomato (expiry date dated 2018). If you call it a last supper, you would be technically not wrong because I hoped to eat and wait for money to come from God-knows-where. I wouldn't have taken all these pain if I wasn't on drugs. I am used to going to bed on empty stomach.

I was amazed when I opened your tomato sir. It looked like a watery poo and tasted like marine nonsense. What options do I have? I have bought it and had no money left so I had to use it. It ruined my meal and I had to force back vomit so that something would be left in my tummy to hold the drugs. Chief, let me pause and ask, "Does your family use that nonsense?"

Chief, if this is your idea of use made in Nigeria then you need a rethink. Why would that shit cost the same (50 naira) with the tomato paste imported into the country which of course is of better quality? Why can’t you strive to stand out in quality and see if Nigerians wouldn't be inspired to buy made in Nigeria?

Let me tell you a secret I have discovered trading with my father for over 15 years; an average Nigerian prefers a cheaper alternative and if the alternative is of fairly same price as the initial, Voila! They stick to it for life. Believe me Chief, there are more average Nigerians in the country than you can ever think about. If you improve the quality of your tomato paste, you wouldn’t be the one preaching use made in Nigeria; Nigerians will beg you to sustain the production.

Well, I was really pained but what can I do if not to blab and hope it gets to somebody that knows somebody that... till it gets to you. Chief, please don't spoil your reputation with bad products. You can do better. Nigerians deserve better. With my experience today I would gladly run over as many of custom officers as possible to make sure importation of tomato paste continues.

I plan to save 8.33 naira every month and hope to try your product again in the next six months (if the price remains the same). If the only improvement I will notice is increase in price, then I will unlearn everything I know of you and tell the tale of one man I believed could make the difference in Nigeria only to turn and discover he was making a pocket for himself.

I rest my case.
Yours Sincerely

CC: Anyone that knows Chief Eric Odinaka Umeofia
BCC: Everyone working at Erisco foods.