Economic transformation, the Chinese way

The truth is that every great people must first lose their direction several times before finally finding the right direction. That’s how every fallen great nation can rise to greatness. And now that Nigeria has fallen to the bottom pit, isn’t it time it began the inevitable rise? The same hands nature used to force Nigeria down the bottom pit, it will soon use in guiding us to a quick rise.

In other words, now that our problems have fully opened our eyes to the unsympathetic, Machiavellian-Darwinian survivalist world, they have also made us to fully discover how only our strengths can lead us to the promised-land. Having been taken for a ride for so long by those we embraced as friends, we now know better; that there’s no friendship among nations, but national interests.

This is what all today’s great nations went through – some lighter and others heavier. But all have some painful pasts behind them. So, joining this global survivalist race, we too should recognize and document our past mistakes, with an eye never to repeat them again. Second, our new found enthusiasm should be used to frontally tackle the problems we should expect on our way up the ladder. Third, with this quick rise, we too should try to have what it takes to outmaneuver the enemy as constantly plan ahead. In short, now wiser, and eyes sharpened, we should try to follow the Chinese footsteps.

But what is it that China did, and how did it do it still off the West’s radar? In other words, how did China fully ambush the west? It all began in 1971 during a secret meeting between Chairman Mao of China and President Richard Nixon of the US. Here China offered to help the US bring down the Soviet Union. But at what cost to the West? China should be made the west’s favored nation. Besides unlimited access to western consumer market, China should enjoy unrestricted access to both western financial markets and full allowance of possible migration of western manufacturing plants to China.

To make sure the game-effects were off the radar, while cheap Chinese goods flooded western markets, Beijing also loaned western banks the proceeds to give back to western consumers. That was done in addition to China buying up US treasury bills so that a stronger dollar keeps Americans lining up for Chinese goods. Recognizing ultimately soaked in huge debts China could begin turning the vast economic power of the west fully to its advantage.

Little wonder the west lacks the moral authority to question the ongoing economic and financial attacks from China which, of course, were self-inflicted. It is so unbelievable they are now being beaten hands down in their very globalization game; a neo-liberal designed game; a game aggressively pushed by an alliance of western governments; a game fully mediated by the World Trade Organization they control; and a game simply packed not just to guarantee their multinational corporations unrivalled market power around the world, but also to use it to fully undermine developing economies’ industrialization efforts.

In doing what only benefits the Chinese people, Beijing has lifted over 300 million citizens out of poverty. But Nigeria given its naïve accession to WTO, has continued to witness an unprecedented economic and social havoc to its people, which includes 5 million jobs lost to WTO annually because imports of cheap goods have continued to destroy our manufacturing and agricultural sectors. This is the cost brought to ourselves as a result of our irrational abandonment of national import substitution industrialization, done simply because some people in Washington or London called for it.

No one disagrees that FDI brings along with it some important benefits, such as advanced organization, skills and technology, healthy external balance, increased productivity, as well as additional employment, and effective competition. Why caution is being proposed here is because inasmuch as FDI is good, unscreened or unsolicited entry of FDI into any country’s financial sovereign space could too turn deadly. It could be a carefully orchestrated financial time-bomb waiting to explode at the right time.

It is worth refreshing our minds how deadly an unfiltered FDI could be to an emerging economy like ours if we could ask the Asian Tigers their experience in 1997 when timed financial bombs were let loose by some western financial terrorists. Or shouldn’t we be wary about how FDI targeted at our strategic industrial sector, could not just be used to quickly create artificial monopoly that could quickly destroy small players, it could go as far as destroying the same strategic industry we wanted to grow by inviting in FDI.

The question therefore is: Given all these we now know as obstacles to our eventual rise to economic and financial stardom, what is it that we too should do to navigate these unfamiliar waters without, of course ending up inside the shark’s belly? In other words, moving Nigeria forward, what bold steps should we take to ensure we keep our eyes well fixed on the ball?

First, our politicians should recognize the seriousness of leading Nigeria through this Machiavellian-Darwinian survivalist world. This means, we too should henceforth look inward, and stop trooping to Washington and London, since our rise is never going to be taken lightly by them. Just like the Biblical three wise men who were warned not to return to the East, because Herod could send killers after the newborn, our leaders too should begin acting wisely.

Henceforth, it is going be self-serving economic diplomacy, where we have no permanent economic friends or enemies, but our permanent economic interests. Our ambassadors should carry corporate suitcases wherever they go to represent us.

Returning to import substitution industrialization, in protecting our industries, a Nigerian Infant Industry Protection Act should be in place, as well as a Nigerian Foreign Investment Act too to protect our financial sovereign space from potential financial terrorist attacks.

A presidential appeal to the conscience of those Nigerians who not only stole our money, but also kept it overseas should begin soonest. But, for the appeal to be weighty, it should be accompanied with a presidential pardon which should prevent the EFCC from going after these ‘changed’ Nigerians.

An economic formalization which should require a Business Formalization Act of Nigeria with full deadline for all informal business operators in the country to formalize is now long overdue. It is long overdue since besides securing jobs for formalized owners, it will provide new jobs for our teeming idle business service providers (accountants, lawyers, and insurance firms). An army of apprentices too will get jobs, as well as casual jobs for unemployed youths. All in all, about 10 million jobs could be expected to be created from the economic formalization exercise.

Finally, we now more than before need to establish a Nigerian Council of Statesmen if we don’t want political instability to undermine the expected gains of the ongoing economic restructuring. Made up of our highly respected patriots, statesmen, and nationalists, NCS members should be fully engaged with reconciliation campaigns, and the lowering of our now dangerous high ethnic and religious walls.

Written by
Odilim Enwegbara
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