Economic Sovereignty and National Security

by Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

The palpable erosion of economic sovereignty impinges inexorably on national security. Without a sound economic foundation, any state’s security would be in jeopardy. Economic sovereignty is the power a state exercises over its means of production, distribution and exchange. National security is the capability of a state to protect and provide for its citizens as well as secure its territorial integrity and independence. For state security to be guaranteed there has to be nifty national planning. I have this niggling feeling that we are looking at the skies, as the Earth is eroding us.

I have laboriously waded through the Vision 20: 20:20 draft document. Its commanding heights include decentralization of governance, public service reforms, national security and human capacity development. Etc

After reading through the document, my mind flashed back to the broadcast, which Major-General Ibrahim Babangida (as he was then) made to the nation on July 30, 1987, with which he unfolded a new political agenda for a return to civilian government in 1992.

The programme was based on the report of the Political Bureau, which the Military President set up in 1986 to conduct a study into all facets of Nigerian life and come up with suggestions on Nigeria’s political future.

That future is today. We are faced with Vision 20:20:20, another socio-political hope-raiser. Amidst political attitude changes and paradigm shifts, Nigerian Governments always prefer to evolve new agendas instead of finishing existing visions. This creates the impression that prior programmes were not well thought-out or are not feasible.
We have not yet successfully dealt with “managing public utilities, enterprises which require heavy capital expenditure, enterprises which are tied up with the political integrity and security of the nation.”

There are still “monopoly-type enterprises which generate imperfections in the market and prevent resources from being put to the most efficient use such as the distribution of essential commodities” which now cost astronomically.

The erosion of economic sovereignty in Nigeria is gradually becoming manifest as people fear that foreign investors are slated to take-over a substantial chunk of Nigeria’s capital market.

An investigation by BOSAS INTERNATIONAL BUREAU, ABUJA, FCT. Nigeria, on the Means of Payment in our international trade revealed that there is need for improvement in the area of fraud documentation.

There are other lapses like effective communication; exchange risks and the financial credibility of parties

.Our banks need to be more responsive in making payments in international trade, using the four methods of making payments in international trade, to wit: cash advance, documentary credit, open account and collection.

Some foreign banks have filed complaints about irregular payments. If our foreign investors suffer any delays in the remittance of payments, this would be a major cog in the wheel of realizing the goals of Vision 20:20: 20.

The document was not very detailed in mapping out our foreign exchange earning mechanisms. If Nigeria needs N4 trillion for MDGs, as Government has declared, by what magical conjuration will this money be made, if our banks get into Chinese, British, French and Japanese hands?

The advertent or inadvertent cession of our economic sovereignty to other nation’s financial institutions may sooner than later, become a national security issue. Laid off workers in banks are in for hard times. Banks now find it almost impossible to obtain acceptance of letters of credit because of the alarmist approach to solving the bank’s problems. If as a result of the sporadic, fire brigade action by regulators. If Nigerian business people can no longer get loans, the economy could grind to a halt.

The banking reforms were carried out with messianic zeal. Me-thinks that we should appreciate that at times much haste can result in less speed.

Government should regulate foreign investment and check what goes on scrupulously, so that we do not become free loaders’ paradise. A conscious attempt must be made not to yield to pressures from the centers of manipulation and control.

In Nigeria, our investment culture is based more on speculative dogmas rather than sound economic principles. For example, the prices we pay for goods and property defy economic understanding, as prices are astronomical and change almost monthly.
No matter how correct government measures are, it is what plays out in the local market that affects the common man.

Even in advanced economies, Governments watch the economic trends carefully. They enact domestic laws that ensure efficient means of payments for goods and services and they control prices using strategic measures, while civil societies rely on Price Control Councils.

Pathetic and scary cries floated around the world’s great economies last year, as a result of lapses in the banking oversight procedures. Wall Street, the City of London, Tokyo and Moscow, could no longer entertain interview with money borrowers. They no longer could pay interest on deposits and redemption dates passed without clients showing up.
They raised alarm because their national security was in jeopardy, since their societies were in danger of collapse. The world economic crisis is still the subject of frenzied discussions, speculations and untutored prognosis.

For me, Economics will remain a conjectural science. Its protagonists herald and applaud its theories, only to discard them, when the market wheel turns erratically.
The present international economic system is wedged upon the development needs identified by Breton Woods’ economists and which assisted Europeans to revive their economies in the 1950’s.

The processes were assisted by the existence of colonial enclaves that were exploited in both human and natural resources for effect.

Today, the colonies are now independent states, raw materials are now being paid for by European states and labour is expensive in these states leading to outsourcing of their factories and businesses to Asia and elsewhere. Their present predicament has been long in coming.

Aware of the danger of the erosion of economic sovereignty as a possible danger to national security, the G-20 leaders have started discussions “on bank capital standards as well as a frame-work for how the world’s largest industrial and developing economies can cooperate to remove policies to stimulate growth”. They also seek efforts to “build a new international capital accord to rein in the amount of leverage that financial firms take on.” These were the positions of Geithner, the US Secretary of State before the Pittsburgh meeting in late September,2009.

However, the basic problems will still prove problematic as long as developing states remain outside the decision -making financial bodies and cannot play a major role in policy formulation and policy execution processes.

The lack of serious consultations with African, Latin American and Asian states is causing regional groups to be active like ASEAN, Russia/China Consultative Forum, and Non-Aligned Movement etc.

In Nigeria, consumer demand towers above consumer surplus and as a result, those with meager purchase power reel under precarious circumstances.
They are usually from minority ethnic groups. It is they, who engage in nickel and dime trade, squeezing out a living from rocks.

The education sector is not fairly treated in the scene of things. The universities are fundamental in Vision 20:20:20, human capacity building and should be well-funded to enable them perform well.

As a University teacher of Law at OAU, IFE, my salary got increased usually only after ASUU strikes. Three years and two months after retirement, I am yet to paid my gratuities.

To relegate men and women of formidable intellect in universities in Nigeria is incomprehensible since they

move society to gain acceleration in the right direction, through their research, teaching and other intellect work.

They sooner than later become political mal-contents and agitators and history has shown that national security is always shaken, when intellectuals manifest discontent.
If foreign banks take over Nigerian banks, there will be a feeling of hopelessness among the population. The youth will feel that their inter-generational equity would be mortgaged. Their restlessness could be a concern and national security could be impaired.
Ning-nong persons are pontificating; male nightingale politicians have abandoned NOW to sing about 2011.

Using non-restrictive relative clauses, some politicians are already making inane promises like they did in 1980, 2000, 2010, now postponed to 20:20:20. Postponing chaos is a new political stratagem to avoid responsibility.

This has worked because as Nicolo Machiavelli wrote “People are so simple-minded and trusting that anyone, who wants to deceive, will always find people to deceive”
I do not believe that it is the policy of this government to deceive anybody. Its problem is that there appears to be too many political oncologists using wrong prescriptions. As a result, national tumors are not healing. The ruling party is bereft of political thinkers and their non-standard political demagogy performs ninja-like motions without effect.

Remonstrance is building up against political parties that have abandoned their political headquarters in search of new alliances. INEC may wish to remind political parties that the maintenance of a visible political office is a major requirement for continuous recognition of their electoral status.

Experience has shown that everyday is for the thief, but one day is for the owner of the house. Our nation needs faith-healing, so every one should all pray to Jehovah Adonai.
The Lord that saved Daniel, Jonah and Emmanuel at OAU Ife, who answers by fire, will deliver us.

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