After listening to Mr. President’s budget speech, I couldn’t control my happiness because it was as if the President had just read my mind. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking that this country does – and does them very quickly:
1. Reassessing ECOWAS Border Agreements: Today, the poorly articulated ECOWAS open border agreements are ferociously being exploited by ECOWAS member countries like Ghana who besides making sure that companies once in Nigeria have to relocate to Ghana in large numbers, thanks to Ghana having disproportionately invested massively in its power sector making power supply cheaper and more reliable in Ghana and by so doing use the ECOWAS open border for dumping in Nigeria market products made by these companies relocated to Ghana. This is in addition to other ECOWAS member countries like Benin becoming transit countries for cheap Chinese and Indian made goods targeting Nigerian market too.
Given these abuses, it is obvious that to promote and protect our infant industries, no further time should be wasted not only in reviewing the ECOWAS border agreements, but also in repealing these agreements. This too will send the right signals to those countries wanting to use Nigeria as their products’ dumping ground to come to terms with the new Nigeria under President Jonathan. In other words, they should either invest in Nigeria or face our nationalist protectionist policies. No doubt, those companies that left Nigeria’s shores for Ghana and other West African countries will be forced to return to Nigeria.
2. Need for Self-Serving Economic Diplomacy: Henceforth, ours should become self-serving economic diplomacy, where we have no permanent economic friends or enemies, but our permanent economic interests. What this means is that henceforth our ambassadors should be carrying corporate suitcases wherever they go to represent Nigeria. Also, henceforth, Nigerian leaders should learn the art of diplomacy based on display of some disarming smiles, while fully keeping their eyes on the ball – our national interests.
Where appealing to enemy’s conscience is what it will take for the enemy to give us a breathing space, leaders of this country should all master how to use their smiling to appeal without confrontation. But where looking tough and standing firm should be the only way to getting result, our leaders should stand firmer without trying to give the enemy any space.
3. Promoting Economic Patriotism: An economic patriotism that bans any form of adverts of foreign banned goods as well as foreign products that attract up to 100% tariff. This is to encourage local consumers to purchase goods and services made in Nigeria through the shielding of our domestic market. The goal is not only to support economic activity it is also for the promotion of social cohesion.
Economic patriotism is commonly practiced in Asian countries where their communitarian culture makes it easy for citizens to avoid foreign made good without even being told to do so. In India, the countries social web makes it difficult for foreign intrusion. And recently the Eurozone economy has begun to practice economic patriotism.
So, why shouldn’t we in Nigeria, use all possible legislations to make it difficult for foreign made goods to gain easy access to the local market so that they can hardly compete with our locally made ones. That foreign banned goods or goods attracting up to over 100% should never be advertised in Nigeria should also mean that they are never displayed conspicuously but made sure Nigerian competing products enjoy better and more strategic displaying positions in shops across the country. China has been practicing this policy against all foreign made goods being sold in the country where they are strategically denied access to advert in national print and broadcast media.