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Democracy @ 20: High hopes as Buhari, Govs Take Oath of Office



Democracy @ 20: High hopes as Buhari, Govs take oath of office

By: Jude Opara

Nigerians are expecting a better delivery of democracy dividends, as President Muhammadu Buhari and 29 state governors take oath of office on a day Nigeria is marking is 20 years of democracy.

On May 29, 1999, Nigeria returned to constitutional democracy after a tedious military administration which had seized power and disrupted democratic institutions.

Before now, the country was having an interchange between the military and the civilians in the quest to administer the country.

In 1993 the country had an election that was generally adjudged as the most peaceful before and it was presumed to have been won by philanthropist and businessman, Moshood Abiola.

But the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election.

The heat generated by that annulment was one of the reasons Babangida who had always shifted the goalpost of the handover date quickly inaugurated an interim government headed by Ernest Shonekan in August 1993.

Just three months after, Shonekan whose government was powerless announced his resignation after the then Army Chief, Gen. Sani Abacha allegedly forced him to do so.

During the reign of Abacha from 1993 till his death in 1998, the country was under the stranglehold of one of her most brutal juntas. The ruthless General also incarcerated Abiola.

However, it was a new turn after the maximum leader died in 1998 and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar who took over gave a promise to return the country to a democratic rule in 1999. This promise he kept.

To kick start his transition programme, Abubakar registered three political parties which were, Alliance for Democracy (AD), All Peoples Party (APP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which gave birth to democratic governance in 1999.

So, the current democratic experience which is the longest uninterrupted so far began effectively when the mantle of leadership was handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo by Gen. Abubakar.

It is our sincere hope and desire that the military boys have returned to their barracks for good.

So, 20 years after, we want to evaluate how the journey has been so far. The PDP took the first shot and ruled the country for 16 years before they were defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.

The government started by purging the military when President Obasanjo retired all military officers who have been exposed to political offices. This indeed terminated the career of a generation of military officers; some of them were the finest at that time.

One intractable problem that has bedeviled Nigeria from inception is corruption. The government began a fight against the monster by establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

Like every new broom, these agencies appeared to have been effective at the beginning until somehow they became the instrument of harassment and suppression of real and imaginary enemies of the government.

There was this hope of a new horizon when the country returned to constitutional democracy despite the fact that the president at that time was a retired military dictator himself. Nigerians had hoped that there will be a reversal of their dwindling economic fortunes, but 20 years down the line the standard of living has even continued in a downward slide.

The Obasanjo administration made some efforts in returning Nigeria as a global citizen with her involvement in many international treaties and conventions. His government also negotiated with the international donor agencies like the World Bank, the Paris Club as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offset the nation’s debts.

In the area of infrastructure, there were a lot of contracts awarded for the construction of roads and other projects but they were given out at highly outrageous rates with jobs delivered not commensurate with the money paid.

For instance, the construction of the Abuja National Stadium is said to have cost the country a huge fortune which if properly managed could have delivered three of the same quality project

In the electoral system the story has not been any different. Politicians were ready to do anything to win elections. Imposition of candidates and ballot box stuffing were and are still the order of the day.

During the PDP era, impunity was taken to a rather ridiculous level to the extent that the godfathers can give the party ticket to anybody they like whether such a person won the primary election or not.

The mantra then was do whatever you could to be declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), then the judiciary will be the next bus stop. The manipulation of the judiciary was the order of the day as in most instances, cases were delivered to the highest bidder.

In 2007, Nigeria conducted yet another election and shortly after his inauguration, late former President Umaru ‘Yar Adua had accepted that the process that led to his victory was faulty and he promised to do something about it.

Certainly, he did by setting up the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reforms Committee. That Committee recommended for electoral reforms aimed at giving INEC more latitude to organize free and fair elections across the country.

However, midway into his administration, President ‘Yar Adua died and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in.

In 2011, President Jonathan campaigned and won election defeating current President Muhammadu Buhari. Then he ran a campaign based on the fact that he was from a poor background, many people bought into his story believing he will make things easier for everybody given his background.

But his government was largely criticized because of the high rate of corruption. Many people at the corridors of power easily helped themselves from the public purse.

The issue of the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram in the North East also took a dangerous turn as bomb explosions were happening just in days even in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

All these and many more real and imaginary reasons were capitalized on by the civil society organizations and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which was an amalgam of some political parties for the sole purpose of capturing power to run down the government.

For instance, in 2012, the government attempted to increase the pump price to N140 naira to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy, the CSOs and the opposition party took to the street to protest. They claimed that there was nothing like subsidy, describing it as a scam. The Jonathan administration buckled and returned the price to N87 naira.

So, in 2015, many analysts were not surprised when the incumbent president was defeated by his challenger. This is because a lot of people had had the notion that the country needed a change and the person of President Buhari well fitted in.

President Jonathan, who had always said his ambition never worth the blood of any Nigerian, equally surprised many especially his party members when he put a call across to Buhari to concede defeat. That singular action also saved the country a lot of stress because the tension in the country was at a fever high pitch.

Many analysts believed that the APC never believed that the former president was going to hands off so easily, so they were alleged to have prepared their supporters for a wild protest which may have turned violent.

President Buhari mounted the saddle with a lot of promise and the people in turn were also not in short supply of expectations and hope. The government during their electioneering campaign had promised a lot of things including payment of N5,000 monthly to all unemployed Nigerians, reduction of the exchange rate from a naira to a dollar, reduction of the pump price from N87 naira to about N45 naira, ending the Boko Haram madness within the first three months and many more.

But four years after, many Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of the government. Most of the promises have at best remained promises. In fact, some have been out rightly denied.

The exchange rate is now N360 to $1 dollar, the pump price instead of selling at N87 is now N145 naira.

While some of the abducted Chibok girls have been released, over a 100 others are still in captivity, just like Leah Sharibu of Dapchi school who was among the other set of school girls abducted under the watch of this present government is still in captivity after the freedom of her colleagues was negotiated.

The country has not fared better in any way including in the security situation because while we will agree that Boko haram has been pushed to Bornu state, other dare devil organizations have commenced the business of mass killings and wanton destruction of property. Today the killer herders and armed bandits are freely on the rampage, killing and abducting people with little or no hindrance.

The government seems to have lost ideas of what to do and perhaps that is why the clamour for at least the change of the service chiefs has been ignored. Today all over the country, people are living in fears and some ethnic nationalities have started threatening of defending themselves from any external aggression.

The mass killings by the herders in Benue state last year with one incident resulting to the mass burial of over 77 bodies will linger for a long time in the minds of Nigerians.

The country is today more divided unfortunately along the two dangerous lines of religion and ethnicity. This government may have inadvertently contributed to this by its actions and utterances earlier in their regime. For instance, shortly after his inauguration in 2015, President Buhari in an interview told a foreign television that he will not treat those who allegedly gave him 97% and 5% equally. While those who believe he was right rose to support him, those who differed said it was unnecessary for a sitting president to so classify his own people.

Suffice it to add that the government must be seen to be fair to all manners of Nigerians irrespective of their creed, ethnicity and orientation. The idea of treating some people with kid gloves while others are given the sucker punch will not help us. One can easily remember the seeming pat on back to the Arewa youths who audaciously gave Igbos living in the North a quit notice as well as the activities of the killer herdsmen are being justified by the body language of the government, while the secessionists Indigenous People of Biafra who are only carrying flags were quickly branded as terrorists.

Unemployment and hardship are now bedmates of most Nigerians and the ugly result is the high rate of suicide among the citizens at all levels and strata. Many people are confused and ready to take any rash action at the slightest provocation.

So as the President takes his second and final oath of office, he should begin to think of how to solve of some of these problems especially those that bother on national security and the standard of living.

The Social Investment Programme (SIP) which the administration launched before the 2019 elections has been variously described as a failure as little or no impact have been felt of the hundreds of billions of naira budgeted for that. No other personality than the First Lady, Aisha Buhari only this week cried out that the programme has failed especially in the Northern Nigeria.

The Buhari administration and the 8th National Assembly had at best functioned in a cat and mouse relationship with accusations and counter accusations of sabotage every now and then. It came to a head last year when the men of the Department of State services (DSS) sealed off the assembly, locking legislators, staff and visitors out.

Despite the fact that both the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were members of the APC by the time they were elected, the leadership of the party did not welcome them and hence the barrage of attacks and court cases that followed. This also forced the duo to decamp to the PDP later on.

The incident which happened when the President was away on medical trip hugely embarrassed the country as the local and international channels beamed the development live. The then Director General of the DSS, Mamman Daura was forced to resign as an aftermath of the power play that emanated from that inglorious outing.

The government should this time try to operate in harmony with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly. We also hope they succeed in getting their preferred candidates, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila elected as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.

The President has promised to change his style; we hope the change will be a positive one. To start with, immediately after the inauguration today, we expect to see the list of ministers as soon as the 9th Assembly is inaugurated in June. Nigerians will not accept the long wait of six months it took before the out gone ministers were appointed.

As a leader, the President should also devise other ways of getting information of the real situation in the country because it appears that most of the people around him only tell him things that will make him believe that all is well.

Importantly, President Buhari has said he believes Nigeria needs to practice True Federalism; it is expected that he puts flesh to the skeleton of the verbal pronouncement by initiating a bill to the National Assembly to make the necessary constitutional amendments.

I have said it severally that without True Federalism Nigeria will not likely improve on her development. This is because the unitary system we are operating at the moment is not helping us. At best what we are doing is motion without movement.

We must practically move away from the mono economy we are operating. Oil alone cannot continue to carry the country while elsewhere in Zamfara people are freely mining gold and the government looks the other way. Nigeria must allow each component unit or state to operate a level of autonomy that will help them take certain responsibilities.

Finally, the APC as the government in power must begin to drive some of the changes, they promised Nigerians in 2015, this the President is expected to champion because what has happened so far is a far cry from what was promised.

For example, the level of impunity exhibited by the APC in the last general elections must have even dwarfed whatever the PDP did on the scale of infamy. Today the ruling party has lost all elective positions in Rivers and Zamfara States including the national and state seats because they simply failed to adhere to their own guidelines.

The report of the Uwais Commission which recommended that the chairman of INEC and other board members should be appointed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) instead of the president.

Today it is the president that usually appoints the Chairman, the National Commissioners as well as the Resident Electoral Commissioners of the commission. INEC as presently constituted will most likely continue to do the bidding of politicians especially the ruling party and the appointing president.

An example is due to the ease of manipulation by any sitting government; in 2001 it did not take the then government of President Obasanjo to get the amendment of the Electoral Act ahead of the 2003 elections. Prior to this time, the presidential and national assembly elections used to come last but it was changed to be the first to be conducted.

Indeed, that change was selfish because the president and the members of the national assembly reasoned that if the state governors should win their election first, they may truncate their own election.

President Buhari can and still has the opportunity to write his name in gold by using the last four years which starts today to conscientiously move Nigeria forward.

He should look for competent and quality men and women to man the ministries and not necessarily party men who may add little or nothing to the growth of the nation.

Oil & Gas

Fuel Subsidy Removal: Tinubu Goofed, Needs Help





By Audu Liberty Oseni

In the last three months, I have written three articles showing clearly how FUEL SUBSIDY removal was the greatest error. Information that the Tinubu government paid N169.

4 billion as a subsidy in August this year to keep the pump price at N620 per litre, exonerates my stand on subsidy removal.

Tinubu and his team knows that Nigerians have a culture of enduring suffering, but there is a limit to which they can endure.

For that reason, they have decided to bring back the Fuel Subsidy to avert the likelihood of mass anger whose outcome cannot be exactly predicted.

It is clear that Mr. Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President, and his market fundamentalist team, have come to the realization that we are right when we argue that Fuel Subsidy is an Energy Security Nigeria cannot do without.

They can longer sustain their arguments about subsidy removal, they now agree with some of us that maintaining fuel subsidy which has a direct impact on the price of commodities is a mandatory duty and not an option. They know they have goofed, perhaps those who feed on taxpayers’ money to think for the government failed to educate Tinubu that removing Fuel Subsidy in a country like Nigeria with a huge poverty rate and pronounced infrastructural deficit, with a poor transportation system is economy blasphemy that will lead to mass suffering and deaths.

Doesn’t Mr. Tinubu’s government know this truth? The West, particularly the United States who are quick to prescribe neoliberal capitalism to Africa as a solution for economic challenges does not practice that on its own soil.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), pushed Mr. Tinubu’s government and other African states to embrace Neoliberal capitalism. The hypocrisy in their action is that they ensure that in the United States, Britain, and the likes of them, the governments are committed to providing basic welfare packages for the citizens.

Unfortunately, the West has sustained a welfarist ideology ensuring their citizens live a decent life with the government bearing huge costs, is using the IMF and World Bank to force Mr. Tinubu’s government and other countries in Africa to embrace neoliberal capitalism is pushing citizens into poverty, with Subsidy Removal as the most effective weapon.

The problem is that African leaders and their Western allies Economists who cheer this kind of faulty thinking, do not have the understanding that the IMF and World Bank neoliberal capitalist prescription is to keep Africa permanently underdeveloped by destroying citizens purchasing power and the manufacturing sector.

The bitter truth Mr. Tinubu’s government and his neoliberal ideology auxiliary Economists have refused to accept is that there is no country in the world that has made any progress on the basis of IMF and World Bank neoliberal capitalism model which they push in the guise of Subsidy removal.

It is a known fact that countries like China and India which have made measurable impacts in lifting their citizens from poverty and growing their economy, refused to play by the IMF and World Bank rules. Tinubu has to have this kind of understanding if he must put Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth.

Tinubu and his neoliberal Economists propagandists must know that the United States and the West do not practice this kind of wicked capitalism ideology they push to Africa. At least, the 2009 global recession has shown that in the United States, neoliberal capitalism is a mere intellectual exercise that is not applicable to real-life situations.

Even as the US battled the economic recessions, the government did not remove subsidies, didn’t sack workers, didn’t crumble its economy through currency devaluation, and did not tax the citizens to raise money. As a matter of fact, the US government increased its expenditure and lowered taxes. The government did that so the poor would have money to spend on ground since the recession happened as a result of inadequate money in circulation. The Private sector got bailouts from the government against the neoliberal rules of economic development.

Evidence before us is that subsidy is not the problem, it is the corruption in the way it has been managed. Nigerians must demand that Mr. Tinubu’s government addresses corruption in the fuel subsidy management and reinstate it for the common good of all citizens.

The neoliberal Economists propagandists who have lost touch with reality and have refused to embrace developmental economics, who are advising Mr. Tinubu to continue with the neoliberal capitalist model that has been rejected by the West must stop.

Mr. Tinubu’s team needs to help him by exploring home-grown developmental economics models with governance and citizens’ welfare at the centre. Wicked capitalism with cruel policies has not helped any country in the world and Nigeria will not be an exception.

Audu Liberty Oseni, MAWA-Foundation Coordinator-

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FULL TEXT of President Bola Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Anniversary Speech




Dear Compatriots,

1. It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.

2. On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers.

Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria.
From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.

3. Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings.

No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.

4. Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.

5. Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain.

6. This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.

7. At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.

8. I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.

9. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.

10. Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.

11. There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.

12. My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.

13. We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.

14. Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.

15. To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

16. Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

17. New CNG conversions kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.

18. I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.

19. Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.

20. To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

21. Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

22. My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

23. Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,

24. We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.

25. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.

26. I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

27. I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.

28. Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve our better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.

29. I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!

30. I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary.

31. Thank you for listening.32. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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BRICS: Did Nigeria Miss Out On Admittance?




By Kayode Adebiyi

At the 2023 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the leaders of member countries that form the bloc– Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – announced the impending admittance of six more countries to its fold.

Host, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, said at the event that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates had been invited to join the bloc.

With full membership scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, BRICS will now comprise 11 countries.

Several other countries have expressed interest in joining the group, a clear indication in the 67 countries invited as guests to attend its 2023 summit.

BRICS was founded as BRIC in 2009 as an alternative platform for its members to challenge the international multilateral cooperation dominated by the United States, the European Union and the Bretton Woods system.

South Africa joined the group in 2010, thereby giving it the present acronym which, with the new entrants, will be known as BRICS+.

Although many regard the bloc as an informal multilateral organisation, experts say its last summit was a statement of intent to truly challenge the status quo.

Navdeep Suri, a Fellow at India’s think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said the BRICS’ Johannesburg summit passed a clear message.

“The 15th BRICS summit has gone further than any other in the recent past to modernize and galvanise the grouping.

“It has sent a strong signal that the post-World War II order should accept the multipolar reality and change with the times’’, he said.

This position was echoed by Jhanvi Tripathi, an Associate Fellow at ORF, who said the group’s composition suggests that it intends to shake up global economic and political cooperation.

“Even the profiles of the new members suggest that the system is headed for something beyond traditionally ‘acceptable’ partners in the eyes of the West.

“The presence of Iran especially and the reactions to it will be interesting to follow,” she said.

Indeed, even before the new members, the original five member countries accounted for over 40 per cent of the global population and a quarter of its economy.

Reuters reported before the summit in South Africa that at least 40 countries had indicated interest in joining the bloc, many of them emerging economies.

Many public affairs analysts and commentators have expressed curiosity as to why Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country – failed to secure admission into the potentially formidable bloc.

In his column Begging for a Seat at the Table, Azu Ishiekwene wondered why President Bola Tinubu was more obsessed with becoming a member of the G-20, rather than BRICS.

“Instead of trying to cross seven seas to join the G-20, Nigeria should be more worried that even though it was also a guest at the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg in August, it was not among the six countries that would get membership from January 2024, with the two new spots in Africa going to Ethiopia and Egypt,” he wrote.

Analysts say Bretton Wood institutions such as the World Bank and IMF are not in a hurry to reform and review their structural approach towards emerging markets’ economic challenges.

They say that as mono-cultural economies, emerging markets have no way of influencing the prices of primary products they export for foreign exchange.

Shouldn’t Nigeria join an economic bloc that offers more than currency devaluation, austerity measures, unequal access to foreign exchange and trade imbalances, some analysts ask analyst asked.

One way to look at the potential benefits of Nigeria joining BRICS is to look at how South Africa, so far, its smallest member in terms of size of economy and population, has leveraged its membership.

Available data shows that South Africa’s overall trade with its BRICS partners increased by an average growth of 10 per cent between 2017 and 2021.

BRICS accounted for 21 per cent of the country’s global trade in 2022, with trade with China accounting for about 15 per cent of South Africa’s global trade with a total trade of R556 billion.

India also accounted for 6 per cent of the total trade, increasing from R140bn in 2021 to R225bn in 2022.

Already, the bloc has floated the New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, which is a multilateral development bank to finance public and private projects.

There is also the mulling of a common currency, advocated by President Lula da Silva of Brazil, as a means of reducing member countries’ vulnerability to dollar exchange rate fluctuations.

Some foreign relations experts say perhaps, Nigeria’s reluctance to join BRICS is a cautious attempt not to rush into an association with a group labeled as anti-West.

But Prof. Günther Maihold, a Senior Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said such an assumption does not hold water.

“The old scripts of belonging to a certain order are no longer valid because the reliability of traditional partners has changed.

“The G-7 needs to be aware that the formation of BRICS+ is more than a mere political maneuver to advance China’s vision of international order,” he said.

Nigeria’s Afro-centric foreign policy and its relationship with the West are valuable. But global economy-wise, it can ill afford to put all its eggs in one basket. (NANFeatures)

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