• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

COSTLY LESSONS FOR NIGERIA :COSTLY LESSONS FOR NIGERIA

Our biggest takeaway from G-20 summit, why it matters to Nigeria

SUNNIE MICHAEL OMEIZA

The group of eight most industrialized nations of the world came together under the G8 Summit recently in L’Aquila, Italy to discuss world politics, welfare, environment and economies. It is a group seen as the big brothers seeking out what to do for the poorer and emerging nations. Every year promises are made and actions expected accordingly to affect various countries that fall into that year’s agenda. This group also welcomes comments, contributions and opinions from observer nations.
When Nigerian leaders go to these world summits where they meet with world leaders or the leaders come to Nigeria, they do not, it seems, have a ready blueprint of what they want to achieve and of what the country needs from the world economic powers that make up this group to help its socio-economic position to present.
This short-sightedness to a great extent explains the reasons behind presidential discussions that end up as paper work without any soul of work seen anywhere.
As leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States, Japan and Russia come together yearly to deliberate on seeking help lines for poorer nations, Nigeria would benefit more if it already has a ready-made plan of what is most critical to the very existence of the country. Nigeria cannot depend on a foreign plan without first having a customized plan that suits the Nigerian economy.
We need to draft our own bearing of where we want to be. For instance, government must know that we need electricity and roads urgently and critically. The G-8, G20 and others may never become useful to Nigeria until Nigerian leaders know where they are leading the country. The managers of the economy should be able to single out countries that have comparative advantages in producing what Nigeria needs to move out of the present doldrums. Go to them with reputed experts to negotiate deals between the countries to facilitate targeted projects that could lift Nigeria from the miry clay.

Read Also: Investigation (1): Ticketing corruption by railway staff, soldiers, policemen derailing Abuja-Kaduna rail project

Nigeria and indeed our African leaders must face reality to know that every developed country equally seeks for opportunities for better conditions for their countries using what they know the poorer countries can offer under comparative advantage arrangement. For instance the United States President, Barack Obama went to Ghana not for any other reasons but for the fact that Ghana just discovered oil in commercial quantity. In case Nigeria’s oil becomes unreachable, the US would not be stranded. It’s all diplomacy clothed in the form of praise for democracy or good governance by the United States of America. This analysis however, waits for appreciation as time goes on.
If democracy mattered in this case for Obama’s visit to Ghana, why would he go out of his way to incur the wrath of his fellow countryman’s tradition and emotions by hugging or bowing to President Hugo Chavez or the King of Saudi Arabia as he did recently? While Chavez had amended the Constitution and secured an open ended tenure, Saudi Arabias citizens have neither seen a ballot box or ballot paper in their lives. Egypt that has become the US ally cannot boast of a fantastic democracy. The United States foreign policy is designed to seek for the satisfaction of various desires of the US presidency using different countries and at different times depending on their relevance.
If Nigeria fits into a country that would be useful in satisfying a national need for the US, then Obama would as well be on his way to Nigeria. But till then Nigeria should have a total package of what exactly it wants. We need roads, our schools are shut, our industries are leaving Nigeria for Ghana because Nigeria does not appreciate the importance of creating a conducive business environment.
With time Ghana would be able to produce oil with some form of comparative advantage and supply to the US. The reality is that these developed countries seek for ways to better their economy while trying to render some form of assistance which are more derivative than relieving. They make promises but also wait to see how the execution of those promises add up to their economies in the long or short run.
In any case, when these monies come how do we appropriate them. We still experience situations in Nigeria where ministries, departments and agencies are given money to construct roads, maintain hospitals, acquire electricity infrastructure, fund educational institutions, conduct medical research to put spread of diseases under control but the funds are retuned unspent leaving the roads full of potholes and impassable, our hospitals empty of facilities and drugs, 95% of Nigerians in darkness, factories and industries closed down under heavy overhead cost and leaving our instructors at the ivory towers to rot in hunger and tough working conditions.
It is the same lack of priorities and scattered focus that is responsible for budget implementation failures yearly in Nigeria. The government should assert enough pressure on few projects and see to their achievement. For instance, Nigerian government wants to construct 100 different stretches of road networks across the country this year, it makes estimates for such projects and submits to senate for approval and then president’s assent. The money is released specifically for the 100 roads and work starts. At the end of the year all we expect to see would be the 100 road networks as proposed. This way, budget appraisal, implementation and degree of success or failure is easier to make. Today, Nigeria is in a dilemma of knowing exactly what to do with her money.
The G20 summit in London is setting out to do too much. It should concentrate on what needs doing right now. Taking a look at this comment made in the Economist Magazine as regards G-20 summit held this year, one can say same to the managers of the Nigerian economy. Our Nigerian president though appreciative of the pledge of $20 Billion by the G-8 leaders in L’Aquila, Italy for efforts to boost food production in poorer nations, expressed concern over unfulfilled promises by the same group in the past.
Nigeria needs more than the fulfillment of this promise to benefit from it. When such monies come (as they have been coming) they meet no concrete plans on ground on which the monies are used. By and large the funds come in forms of loans, grants and assistance but they meet no plan.
Countries that have not much of the curse of hunger gather to seek ways to help countries groaning under a heavy yoke of hunger and a recurrent disjoint has been that these countries that need help do not know what they want and so the funds are misuse at the end of the day. This may explain in another way why these promises are not fulfilled as the big-brother countries wait to see what plans the poorer nations would put the funds into. Nigeria depicts a sailing ship whose captain has no bearing for direction and as such we simply throw money at problems and they are never solved.
Nigeria needs a definite plan that shows its desire on what exactly it wants to achieve and then look out for which countries having comparative advantages in different areas of the requests. We do not need to become agitated or jealous when a United States president decides to visit any country in Africa or seek explanation and sympathy when we are not invited to any gathering of great countries at any time. We need to first have a definite plan on what we want to achieve. If the promised $20billion is released and Nigeria gets her share, what area of agriculture would the money go to is it to buy fertilizer half of which would be diverted without reaching the local farmers or make it a special fund for banks to give to their special large commercial customers and the money ending up in different investments altogether?