Who is missing out?: Chinese wigs in Benin, final destination Nigeria

One day enough Nigerians will learn to ask the right questions about the real intentions behind banning of importation of goods in the country.

Why do we ban so many goods entering the country only for them to be allowed in through the borders?

Here is another example where it makes no sense to ban certain goods that Nigeria clearly has no infrastructure to produce.

In 2014 Benin, our closest neighbour on the west side and a tiny fraction of Nigeria population (Benin 10M, Nigeria 160M) imported $411m wigs. Guess where most of these wigs ended up? Yea, you guessed right, it is Nigeria.

This means that on average Nigerians pay more for their wigs than their Benin counterparts. Full BBC article here. 

If these wigs were allowed into the country, Nigeria would have legitimately benefitted from imports tariffs and Nigerians likely to pay lower prices for wigs. However, traders crossing the borders to Benin had to account for illegal custom bribes and transportation, therefore Nigerians pay higher prices.

Why do we have lawmakers making bad decisions that only benefit the custom officers and a few Nigerians? Partly because many Nigerians refused to read information available to us so they assume banning of imports goods were meant to improve local production when in fact all that is happening is aiding more corrupt officials getting richer at the expense of the helpless population.

On the other hand, even if companies can legitimately export to Nigeria, why would they do that when they knew Benin importation rules evidently are more customer friendly and are sure Nigerians would cross the borders to purchase their goods?

In this instance, the losers remain the same; Nigeria government (missing out on tariffs) and general public (paying higher prices). It is the same for all of our banned goods.

Another interesting fact on Nigeria importation is toothbrush from China:

“Nigerian traders were the continent’s biggest purchasers of toothbrushes from China last year, spending a cool $9,372,920 on 159 million items – roughly one for each Nigerian.”

Nigeria had no problem importing these much toothbrush from China, despite the fact that there are alternatives such as chewing sticks and locally made toothbrush but yet Nigeria bans essential goods such as rice leaving citizens to pay higher prices resulting from crossing the border to Benin  – What a country!

Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Women

Tags: , ,

5 replies

  1. If Nigerians are willing to pay $411 million/year or wigs (when the hair on their heads is perfectly adequate). How much would they be willing to pay for drinking water delivered through a tap? Which is more important hair (for vanity sake) or water for overall physical well-being? Could this be another one of those cases of misplaced priorities, not merely by the law makers but by society at large?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, of course it is a misplaced priority especially in a country with big issue in water and sanitation department. My people are overly sensitive now that anyone pointing to the obvious is seeing as ‘criticising her own kind’

      The whole obsession with plastic and other peoples hair make no sense at all. Disposing used plastic hair is actually another big headache for the society but we live in a place that people who are older and should know better are the one leading on hating their own natural hair.

      Agreed, society at large has a role here. However this example shows how messed up Nigeria is banning importation, if anything were to be banned completely, shouldn’t it be hair wig? But not really because the stuff is available everywhere.


      • When the borders are not secure and customs are unreliable, banning makes no sense. The benefits are then transferred to Nigeria’s neighbours. Government loses the ability to monitor, regulate and tax the industry.

        $400 million/year equates to $4 billion over a decade, that’s a lot of money for false hair products. As you pointed out, the waste is not being disposed of responsibly. That is another price to be paid.

        What has happened to common sense, if given a choice of drinking water over hair, I’d go with the water any day. Thank you for revealing the absurdity of the situation on this matter. I can only hope that eventually good sense comes to the fore.

        Liked by 1 person

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