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Reflex Eco Group – Nigeria news

by Victor Emejuiwe (Local journalist)

It was Julius Caesar who said “I came I saw and I conquered” while John Quincy Adams also said; “America… goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy; She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” In light of the above quotes, an underlying consciousness is established over the need for strong diplomatic policy in external relationship. The increasing need for trade fellowship with foreign nation is necessary for globalization, but it is a move that has to be entered within the framework of national diplomacy. Like Julius Caesar who came to conquer, foreign trade missions are simply searchlights mission of what to conquer. The truce of John Quincy Adams quote is a diplomatic verve that supports global commerce and America has successfully utilized this in all its external relationships. In the fore light of this, both individuals and countries migrating into another country does that with the aim to conquer something valuable. This explains why the British Government took advantage of the rapid influx of immigrants into its terrain to set an immigrant bond fee of 3000 pounds. Although this move has been criticized by nations affected, nevertheless it is a conscious move to protect its economy from external sabotage.

A fundamental concept considered in any trade fellowship is the need to fill the deficiencies of trading partners by the exchange of comparative trade advantage. Fortunately Nigeria has diverse trade advantage; ranging from a warm weather, good topography, natural and mineral resources and highly skilled personnel. This places it in a vantage position to seek favorable trade benefit from other partners. A countries foreign policy defines its interest and commitments towards foreign partners in any form of social and economic relationships but a weak foreign policy creates room for economic sabotage.

Nigeria had maintained an open door foreign policy with countries across the globe and Africa is the center piece of it foreign policy. It has a strong commitment to offer defense and international peace keeping in Africa and beyond. This position has placed Nigeria in the leading role of peace keeping in Africa and as such Nigeria is seen as the “Big Brother of Africa”. This attribute goes with some critical implication; the first is that; it gives Nigeria a good edge over other African countries in terms of leadership. On the other hand, it places a sacrificial demand on Nigeria; where the interest of Africa overrides Nigeria’s own interest. Nevertheless, Nigeria’s role in Africa leaves it with an opportunity to make a demand on Africa. Such demand could be the need to create an open market for Nigeria’s product, the need to remove trade barriers for Nigeria export, the abrogation of capital base for Nigerian Investors, protection of Nigeria’s emigrants and investments in all parts of Africa and the recognition of the Rights and Freedom of Nigerians in any part of Africa.

Outside Africa, Nigeria engages in bilateral cooperation in two broad natures; Bilateral Economic Cooperation and Multilateral Division. The Bilateral Cooperation focuses on enlarging the development opportunities for the country through Bilateral Economic Cooperation with other counties. This involves economic and social relations with foreign countries and institutions on bilateral basis, i.e. on a country or institution basis. The challenge with Nigeria policy on Bilateral Economic Cooperation is that; it has a lame focus which is merely expressive rather than being definitive. It has failed to define what it wants to achieve from such economic and social relationship with other countries. South Africa for instance, recognized the imminent threat in the growing complexity of technology; it observed that the trend would affect mobility of labor, especially the categories of highly skilled technicians, scientists, engineers and managers. This made South Africa to define measures on how to resolve this.

The South African foreign policy therefore stated that it shall mitigate the complexity of technology with a commitment to develop programmes that promote technical and scientific education to cope with the demands of the next few decades. On how to achieve this it said, benefiting from the experience of other countries would be part of the strategy. Nigeria could learn from South Africa by defining its objective in its foreign policy. Nigeria has BEC with Asia, Pacific, China, Vietnam, Japan-JICA, South Korea-KOCIA and India. It has cooperation with United State of America, Europe and Middle East and as such Nigeria has signed over four hundred Bilateral Agreements in various sectors of the economy and has Joint Commission Agreement with 85 countries.

This scenario has left Nigeria with the signing of over 200 treaties which have mostly not been domesticated by the National Assembly. The implication of these treaties has end up making Nigeria a vulnerable country with undefined external agreements. One of such treaties that became a ‘blind allay’ to Nigeria was the Greet Tree Agreement of 2006 which succeeded in ceding Bakassi to the people of Cameroun. Nigeria should ratify its treaties and if possible renegotiate its existing treaties to capture the interest of Nigeria. If Nigeria must enter into treaties with other countries, there must be due consultation with the National Assembly.

In the fore light of this, It is disturbing that Nigeria have not been able to convert the various assistance received from foreign partners into sustainable development rather, it has positioned itself as a country always seeking for assistance from foreign partners. The over reliance on foreign assistance creates a compromising position that undermines the will to take strong position on diplomatic matters; for the interest of a country. It further confines on the foreign partners the power to dictate what it wants to that country; Nigeria must try to avoid this.

The cooperation Nigeria has with Europe, America and Asia Institutions such as JICA in Japan and KOCIA in South Korea, is to receive capacity building in donor agencies, technical assistance in both state and federal government and sectorial development including sponsoring of capital projects/ programs in the areas of education, health, power, water resources, science and technology at both federal and state level. Nigeria have relied heavily on this assistance by receiving grants on Education, Health, Community Development etc. it has also made borrowing an alternative source to fund its infrastructural projects. Ironically most of the countries that offer assistance to Nigeria such as Japan and Korea are bereft of Natural resources but rely heavily on exportation of technology. It provides an ample opportunity for Nigeria to request for assistance in areas of technological development. Japanese technology could be transferred to Nigeria if the Federal Government signs a contract with the Japanese firms to train Nigerian Graduates after the course of graduation on various forms of production; in fields like; Automobiles, Machineries and Electronics. This shall proffer a long term solution for curbing un-employment amongst graduates and the over reliance of import from other countries.

The United State economic interest are intertwined to other world powers like Europe, Japan, China, and Russia however, globalization places a demand on U.S to seek the economic prosperity of developing region like Africa. It recognizes that Africa lacks the modern infrastructure and resources necessary to take advantage of globalization. The United States believes it can help remedy these deficiencies by providing well-targeted foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance, loans, and a more open market for African goods. It further defined its outlook from Africa by stating that “American companies could reap substantial profits from investments in the development of modern communications and transportation systems in Africa if the right political climate and backing were in place. In Nigeria the United State have been able to help Nigeria address these challenges by fostering transparent and accountable governance; engaging civil society and government partners to battle corruption; increasing professionalism of the military and law enforcement agencies; strengthening health and education systems to deliver quality services; growing the non-oil economy; and improving the environment for regional and international trade. The form of assistance rendered to Nigeria by the U.S can be regarded as a ‘facio ut facias’ form of assistance, this simply means ‘I do that you may do’. Since 1937, when Nigeria began the exploration of Crude oil, the United State has been the major stake-holder in the Nigerian Oil industry with most of its oil companies established in Nigeria for oil exploration. However it has remained Nigeria’s number one purchaser of crude oil; inadvertently, Nigeria has become an interest destination for the realization of American prosperity. The Federal government must take advantage of the United State interest in Nigeria by seeking its attention to offer technical assistance to Petrochemical Practitioners and Graduates of Nigerian tertiary Institutions; with the aim of developing the capacity of Nigerians for full time exploration oil. In the nearest future Nigerians should be able to establish its own oil companies that can compete favorably with oil companies like Chevron, Texaco and Mobile. Nigeria cannot afford to continuously forfeit a major sector of its economy to the control of foreign countries.

The recent love- lust between Nigeria and China calls for concern; Nigeria’s foreign policy with China is target to strengthen the existing ties that impact positively on the lives of the people of the two countries. Obviously, China is open to Nigerian immigrants wiling to visit China. Nigerians had taken advantage of this by flooding the city of Guangzhou, and importing all sort of Chinese products to Nigeria. This had turned Nigeria into a dumping ground for all sort of substandard goods, thereby reducing the chances of indigenous manufacturers to make impact in the Nigerian Market. Recently the Federal Government desperately sought China for partnership in eight vital sectors of the economy which includes; Hydro-electrical generation, Real estate, Tourism, Transportation, Water infrastructure, Irrigational farming, Oil and Gas and Aviation. These agreements are meant to revamp the economy of Nigeria and also provide massive employment opportunities for Nigerians. However, my reservations on these agreements are expressed on three major sentiments; First, the signing off of eight strategic sectors of the economy to just one country (China) without wide consultation with stake-holders in the various industries is a wrong step for achieving a good purpose. It was learnt that the president was accompanied by the Ministers of the various ministries involved to China, in the Presence of major Chinese companies from Nigeria and China. Ideally, the Ministers of the various sectors should have invited sector specialist to discuss the framework and strategies for development in those sectors and come up with a collectively established engagement strategy to contract those project to preferred countries who meets the criteria. The signing off of those MOU’s are not transparent and this beclouds the chance of monitoring the progress and performance of China in those eight sectors.

Secondly, judging from the transcendental expansion of the Chinese Market above former Market leaders like U.S and Japan, the Nigerian Market can be easily muddled up with the Chinese dictating the tune for emerging entrepreneurs; thereby posing the risk of colonization of Nigeria’s economy.

My final reservation is that, China had not been a favorable trade partner with Nigeria. This is evident from the statistics reported by the NBS on Nigeria Export decline of N2. 7trillion.

The first quarter report released by the National Bureau of statistics gave a breakdown of the trade statistics; it shows that United States was the Nigeria’s leading export partner with N414.1 billion followed by Netherlands, Brazil etc. China was not listed amongst first 10 countries in terms of Nigeria export destination; rather it accounted for about N335,7 billion of Nigeria’s Import.

In conclusion, Nigeria must consider the need to amend its foreign policy with the aim to mainstream the economic interest of Nigeria in all its affiliation with global partners. Technological transfer remains the only solution to sustainable development in Nigeria; Nigeria must negotiate this properly in every form of investment it enters with foreign investor. In order to avert the crisis of economic sabotage the federal government must learn to involve Nigerians in the process of making vital economic decision that affects the future and prosperity of the Nation, It creates a sense of ownership.