Mother of all sacrifices: like China, like Nigeria

by Odilim Enwegbara

Bleeding like an irrecoverable failed state littered with economic graveyards, China, having fallen to the bottomless pit seemed a destitute nation. Famine which caused the deaths of millions of people had millions suffering from malnutrition. So inadequate were supplies of basic commodities that residents were doled out ration coupons for grain.

Yes, virtually everyone had a job, but so did everyone earn so little to hardly make a living. Having so-called “four big things” – a radio, a bicycle, a sewing machine, and a wristwatch was a privilege. Chinese cities were so sleepy and provincial that it was only in Shanghai that one could see few buildings up to seven-story.

It was this rundown nation that the Communist Party on December 18, 1978 handed Deng Xiaoping to see if he could recover something from it. With nothing more left to lose, this patriarch seemed determined to rollout unheard-of tsunami-kind of economic transformation. And without any time wasted, he surprised all Chinese when he demanded that they get ready for the inevitable ‘Mother of all Sacrifices. Taking this tempestuous economic voyage together, he also informed Chinese that since China had neither slaves nor colonies to exploit, the Chinese people should get ready to become both the country’s slaves and Chinese provinces the colonies.

So in this painful journey, Chinese were asked to save 70% of their meager incomes. He ordered that the people’s stolen wealth kept in foreign accounts be brought home and investing in China’s productive enterprises. But more shocking was his announcement that henceforth government should be fully downsized so that more money could be squeezed out for critical social and industrial infrastructure. And soon over 28 million workers were laid-off from state owned enterprises alone. To be followed was the shutting down of many diplomatic missions with an army of career diplomats asked to go on forced retirement. Next to be get government’s lean hammer was ever-powerful military-industry-complex.

But soon Deng’s tsunami-like downsizing hammer became the target of public anger, with millions of desperate Chinese opposing. But did Deng and his lieutenants lose eye on the ball? To the contrary, the more the opposition fought back, the more Deng seemed to believe that his economic medication was winning the battle.

Gradually the benefits began to outweigh the painful sacrifice. Unmatched manufacturing scrambles by an ever-waiting army of overseas Chinese businesses led also to an unmatched growth in GDP, averaging 10% annually, and translating an unheard-of 12 million jobs annually. And after a three-decade sky-rocketed economic boom, China is today every nation’s not only as the world’s manufacturing workshop, its number one in foreign reserves ($3.5 trillion), but above all as the world’s second largest economy, soon to overtake the US.

Lifting over 600 million out of poverty could be as unbelievable as having 300 million now enjoying middle-class lifestyle. A visit to cities across China, one will be in awe with the infinite skyscrapers dotting them. Little wonder, while everyone now talks about China’s miraculous economic revolution, it seems little is talked about the painful sacrifices the Chinese people made, not even the bloody Tiananmen youth protests in 1989 is being remembered.

Today, a rundown giant, bleeding profusely down in a bottomless pit, Nigeria resembles China in 1978. Citizens are afraid of what the future holds for their directionless nation. Like China then Nigeria today tops the world’s corruption and unemployment charts. Littered with graveyards of innumerable policy somersaults, citizens seem not ready for another worthless sacrifice. And for this reason Nigerians are out to fight it out with President Jonathan.

Determined the same way Deng was, Jonathan seemed ready to battle it as he believed that is the only way to save the soul of Nigeria, which all Nigerians elected with a landslide to save. So Deng reincarnated seems impatient taking fellow Nigerians through an inevitable tempestuous economic voyage, an unprecedented economic transformation to be led by unprecedented industrialization, urbanization, technology leapfrogging, and agricultural modernization. These he strongly believes should be leading the country’s sky-rocked economic transformation to the position of one of 20 richest nations by 2020.

Like Deng then, he too has a team of broad-based-peak-performers and positive-participatory-spirited-lieutenants, and who, as trusted foot-soldiers have the needed vision, passion, patriotism, and above full understanding of how dangerous the country’s current mood is. Interestingly, these seasoned men and women have already staked their credibility in demonstration of their full belief in the kind of Nigeria Mr. President wants to usher it.

But also like Deng he wants citizens to fully bankroll the costs of this economic journey. Little wonder his mother of all sacrifices is already set in motion. But Nigerians are not seeing it funny. They want the sacrifice to start in both the Presidency and National Assembly, where they believe run financial recklessness. A lean government should reduce the civil service financial burden on the state. Bloated foreign missions need to be downsized along with cutting down the military spending. The people are also wondering how come government is yet to demand the bringing home our stolen money kept in foreign banks by our leaders.

The anger from most Nigerians I talked to is that after all the same oil subsidy robbers, who defrauded the nation tens of billions of dollars are still walking freely. Not only I couldn’t agree more, I should add that our lawmakers and EFCC conduct full-scale investigations to fully uncover this sheer fraud called fuel subsidy. But in going after these domestic imperialists, let us not forget that they are not acting alone. They enjoy full support of those western countries who want at all costs Nigeria’s oil because being light and sweet it is easy to refine, low in sulfur, higher in gasoline output per barrel, more kilometers per liter less polluting, and environmentally-friendlier.

To win this impending battle against both our foreign and domestic imperialists, we should all support the ongoing government efforts. That is the only we can expect these enemies of Nigeria to be defeated. What an argument that rather than they being the ones punishing us, it is our President? Or shouldn’t commonsense reveal to us that our president should be the last on our list of enemies, and that rather what he is pursuing is to make Nigeria the great country it ought to have since been, and why doing so is also to secure his rightful place in our country’s history books.

So, many of the Nigerians believe that the recent visits of IMF chief Mrs. Christine Lagarde and UN-MDG chief Mr. Jeffrey Sacks were only revealing how government is taking instructions from the west. But my question is: what good does it serve us denying our diplomatic visitors mere meetings with our President? Wasn’t it Alexander the Great who advised his military generals to always befriend the enemy, especially done with pretense of weakness? Let us not forget that in realpolitik soft-looking remains the best way to disarm and prevail over the enemy.

Yes public opinion is an important ingredient for a democracy vibrant. But most times it comes without possession of the experimented facts. Even lawmakers without facts from the executive could equally end up, like the public, being driven by dangerous emotions in our democratic journey, which without robust deliberative capability could overwhelm the same democratic progress, justice, and above public good.

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1 comment

Mike Ibezim January 8, 2012 - 3:34 pm

another great piece


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