To widen the scope of our economy and economic engagements with the world requires that we shift emphasis from relying on oil revenues the mainstay of our economy. Our economy is presently set up as a huge capital flight operation stripping off from top to bottom what revenues we get from oil leaving very little if at all for the development of even the oil and gas sector itself not to talk of other areas of national development.
The overarching factor in economic development is access to capital. To achieve the goal of genuine national economic development we must not only seek to retain as much as possible what capital we have or generate from our domestic economic relations, we must also attract foreign capital on terms favourable to us. At present to close the capital deficit in our quest for national development we are compelled to resort to borrowing from International lending institutions usually on terms quite unfavourable to us and which pushes us to more deficits. We cannot hope to realise our economic potentials based on this economic model going forward.
First of all, for the infrastructural development we need to do in the country (roads, railways, buildings etc) we need to engage and utilize our abundant human resources rather than farm it out to foreign contractors who will bring in foreign manpower at our cost. The British colonialists did not build our infrastructure (the GRAs, roads, railways and public buildings some of which are standing today) through contracts. They did all these using our manpower resources. That way capital in form of expertise, technical transfer, labour and money is retained substantially for national development.
Another potential area Nigeria can raise capital from is the African diaspora. The combined capital in the hands of Nigerians in the diaspora and people of African descent worldwide runs into trillions in whatever countries. This capital can be in form of technical expertise for infrastructural development, agriculture, science, education, technology, financial services etc. On this we could take a cue from the Israelis who leverage on the worldwide network and influence of world Jewry to tap into their knowledge and expertise in developing the state of Israel.
For cultural and historical reasons as the foremost black and African country, Nigeria is uniquely placed to initiate and lead this economic imperative which will integrate the development of Africa and African peoples worldwide. Unlike the resort to International lending agencies this model of raising capital for development will ensure that Africans take charge of their economic destiny.
The Imperative of political restructuring
To drive both the essence and mission of the new Nigeria and the new economic paradigm enunciated in this essay, Nigeria needs a fit for purpose political direction complete with new political orientation and leadership.
The political orientation of divide and rule by exploiting our ethnic and religious fault lines which the British instituted still governs our politics. It was with us in the parliamentary system of the first republic and right through the various military regimes to the presidential system we now practice. It was the source of the political turbulence leading to the civil war from 1967 to 1970; the various military coups and the topsy-turvy political transitions and developments leading up to this moment under the Buhari administration.
Even now atthe eleventh hour of the life of this negative politics which is now threatening to consume them and the nation, our political leaders have still not woken up to the danger of its destructive capacity; like someone so addicted to drugs who cannot find it in themselves to kick the habit, they would rather destroy themselves and the nation along with themthan pull themselves out of the looming abyss.
Let us not be deceived by the current clamour for political restructuring in the country. It is not based on the higher ideal of totally overhauling the Nigerian political system root and branch in view of current political realities in Nigeria and the world. It is not also based on placing on the political elite the task of being more ideologically rigorous other than their dubious comfort of whipping up base, primordial sentiments to justify their political relevance. It is nothing but the usual hollow ritual of political bargaining engaged by the elite not to strengthen Nigeria in order to enable it realise its potential, but to further weaken and ultimately destroy it reinforcing their narrow self-absorbing positions in a Nigeria that needs and deserves more than what they offer as solutions to its challenges.
Nigeria will certainly not realise its potentials under the current political system and structure we operate. Our country can neither punch its weight nor find its rightful space in the comity of nations with the current political leadership in the country.
We need a new definition of Nigeria away from the impossible, self-pitying, self-defeating one that our political elite define by their acts of political negativism. We need a Nigeria that can economically mobilize its enormous resources and create a sphere for African economic integration and development leveraging on its unique advantages.
From the collapse of the communist order in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, through to the Gulf war and the phenomenal rise of China, Brexit and the economic and political and convulsions taking place in the United States of Americaas it faces fundamental challenges to its status as global superpower, the world order has been undergoing significant shifts in global power configurations.
New power centres are slowly but surely emerging, challenging the established powers and seeking to create spheres of influence. In all this, Africa as always seems to lag behind. Ironically, Africa’s resources, its markets and geo-strategic position on the crossroads of global interaction forms a key part of this global kampf.
History has shown that it is during periods of fundamental shifts in global power relations that new powers emerge using the advantages they have to seize the opportunities that the situation presents.
Nigeria is uniquely placed to be a major player in how the emerging world order shapes up. It has all the major ingredients that should thrust and consolidate it into a global power when the dust eventually settles from the on-going restructuring. This it must prepare for by pursuing some much needed fundamental paradigm shifts in its economics and politics. Indeed we have no other option than to take this road because the consequences of failure to do so on the present and the future generations cannot be fathomed.
For the sake of our future and those of our children this imperative cannot be delayed any further. The time is now. (Concluded)
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