BusinessDay

Nigeria’s political space: Closing all gaps to grow the economy

Nigeria’s democracy can play a greater role in the growth of its economy if it is well managed and restructured. True democracy among other key elements help determine how foreign investors and multinational enterprise (MNE) considers an environment before investing in it.

It is very important to consider the stability of a government and the way it treats its citizens before considering investing in it. These factors play a great role and are very important in determining how fast an economy can grow with exceptions to China.

Their importance has great multiplier effects and broad multifaceted implications in the development of any nation. They help in determining how strong an economy can be because of their fundamental role in the socio-political, financial, and economic success of nations.

While a nation’s democratic and political stability plays a fundamental role in driving FDI’S (foreign direct investments) and MNE’s. It is also a determinant for potential FDI destination.

This is because most Investors are more comfortable investing in nations that are stable democratically especially those that have similar political environment to theirs to guarantee the sustainability of their investments.

Read Also: Twitter Ban: Understanding the reputational risk to Nigeria

This is the major reason Ghana has been the preferred location for foreign investors and international firms recently.

Worthy of mention is the recent location of Twitter’s African headquarters in Ghana, where the global technology company stated its decision was because Ghana is a champion of democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and has open Internet.

NOI polls also noted that despite the approximately 39.6million of Nigerians with twitter account, which is more than the entire population of Ghana (32 million people), Twitter still went ahead to locate its headquarters in Ghana.

It is believed that if Nigeria had put a square peg in a square hole, twitter and other companies would have chosen Nigeria instead of Ghana, which has caused Nigeria to miss out on opportunities of creating more jobs and business opportunities for its citizens.

Also, the government decision on suspension of Twitter has made matters worse for economic growth thereby hindering potential investors and international organisations interested in Nigeria.

The suspension of twitter can be said not to be a good decision for the nation’s economy considering the current economic and political situation in Nigeria as well as its strategies at improving the living conditions of Nigerians.

This is because Twitter is a platform that connects people from different parts of the world economically, politically, and socially. It also enhances visibility, awareness as well as provide information of current happenings around the world.

The suspension is negatively affecting the economy of Nigeria in terms of reducing the number of new investments and businesses opportunities that would have come to Nigeria. It will also negatively affect the image of Nigeria internationally as the international community considers this as a move to suppress the voice of the people. This also threatens Nigeria’s position as the destination for investors globally especially in terms of number of foreign direct investment opportunities and technology start-up businesses that would come to Nigeria.

According to NetBlocks- a watchdog organisation that monitors cyber-security and governance of the Internet, Nigeria loses about $250,000 (N102.5 million) each hour of the day bringing the daily loss to approximately N2.5 billion. This means Nigeria’s economy has lost several billions since it suspended Twitter June 4th, 2021.

This suspension will also create market access gaps for millions of small and medium scale enterprises (SMSEs) that would have utilised the platform to reach out to their customers. It affects Nigeria’s e-commerce market estimated at approximatelyUSD$12 billion.

The mobile network operators: MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile have restricted the Twitter platform and backend servers.

This will also affect the way we communicate and monitor new cases of COVID-19, interestingly NCDC recently confirmed the Delta variant amongst 146 new COVID-19 cases in Nigeria. If the twitter suspension is not lifted it might complicate the existingCOVID-19 negative impacts to businesses and the economy at large.

While it is important to note that Twitter decision to locate its headquarters in Ghana stems from the fact that Ghana is a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom with open internet which aligns with Twitter’s value that power truly belongs to the people where Democracy is supposed to be government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Twitter’s preference for Ghana was also because of its recent appointment to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This also aligns with twitter’s goal to reach out and improve its services in Africa. Also, Toyota has opened an assembly plant and resumed operations in Tema, 30km from the capital city of Accra in Ghana.

In addition to the above, not long after Twitter chose Ghana over Nigeria, the German Government through its ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff, tweeted on his official handle that it chose Ghana as its location for the West African Centre of Global Health to support the launch of a new German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention which will be part of 8 new centres worldwide to fight global challenges.

While it is important to always stand by the truth, we must understand that true democracy and good governance is key to civilization and transformation of the world.

Nigeria claims to be practising true democracy but there has been consistent decline in its political, economic, social and security system. While activities such as corruption, kidnapping, electoral fraud, terrorist attacks, herder-farmer conflict, armed banditry, police brutality, nepotism, marginalization, lack of patriotism, freedom of speech, online freedom etc have all taken a new dimension and they are seriously affecting the nation.

While we cannot completely blame the government for all this, the current mindset of Nigerians speaking negatively against its government at all times needs to change as it is negatively affecting the quality of leadership as well as the glorious destiny of the nation.

On the strength of the above, it is therefore very important that we change our mindset and embrace the fact that the true change we all desire must start from us, our family and environment as our population, diversity in tribes, culture and religion are supposed to be added advantage to the growth and development of our nation.

Also, it is very important we appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to change its information and communication strategy to correct the perception that his body language tilt and favours a certain part of the country than others.

While I believe that no true leader deliberately plans to fail, it is important for Mr President to remember his 2015 inaugural speech where he stated that he belonged to all Nigerians and will treat all Nigerians equally.

Based on the above and the success of Nigeria, I want to appeal to Mr President to consider the option of restructuring the current system and constitution, as it is not sustainable for us to be using the same old formula and expecting to achieve a different result.

It is also very important to inject new blood of smart Nigerians seasoned in areas such as technology, communication, information, economic planning, legal and justice system, Sports etc that can help him drive the needed change Nigerians are yearning for.

Also, current global changes, modernization and advent of technology have all changed modern style of leadership and therefore we must adapt and tailor our strategies to align with these changes to grow and develop our economy.

Restructuring the present constitution in areas such as electoral laws, community policing, power devolution, allowing states to control their resources etc will also add a lot of value in addition to setting up a team that would discuss and dialogue with all perceived marginalized Nigerians, lift the ban on twitter, close all communication gaps with the people.

Finally, the urgent diversification of the economy, tackling all forms of corruption and drug abuse head on, creation of more investment, job and business opportunities as well as creating a more business-friendly environment will go a long in changing the present narrative.

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