Nigeria in the eye of O’Neill ,By Ali M Ali



Ngozi Okonjo-IwealaIt is bewildering how we reason. A certain economist who goes by the name Jim O’Neill says Nigeria, along with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey are the next economic power houses and some of our leaders are jumping for joy. These listed countries are called MINT, a name coined from the first letter of their individual names.
’MINT’ is not O’Neill’s label. He merely popularized it. That credit goes to Fidelity, a Boston based asset management firm. According to Wikipedia, “the term is primarily used in the economic and financial spheres as well as in academia. Its usage has grown specially in the investment sector, where it is used to refer to the bonds issued by these governments.’’
I am not surprised that O’Neill popularized MINT. He has a history of lumping countries together and giving them a befitting acronym. He, it was that came up with ‘BRIC’ later ‘BRICS’ consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and latterly South Africa.
This is not the first time a foreigner or a foreign firm would see the ‘potential’ in our country’s economy and predict a rosy future. Except that Nigerians in the category of hewers of wood and fetchers of water have not seen this ‘rosy’ future. It had been more like a nightmare for them mired in the mud under the iron heel of rapacious leaders.
This has been the story of my country in the last 50 years. It has always been the ‘potential’. The potential has effectively remained the ‘potential’. The challenge had always been one-leadership. A selfless leadership that will transform this ‘potential’ to real development. Regrettably, the quality of leadership has steadily degenerated over time. Coups and counter coups by self seeking elements have given rise to clueless characters superintending over our nation’s affairs with a ‘it -is -our-turn-to-rule mindset. Tied to that, is unbelievable disposition to kleptocracy by successive leaders. Our leaders have demonstrated unbelievable propensity for theft. Worse, the crooks supervising our common till lack shame and are not averse to standing truth on its head. They have serially ganged raped the economy and pretend to transform.
The index for a galloping economy was always compelling. Look at the enthralling manifestation. A huge population. Countless natural resources. Vast agricultural land. And a relatively sound infrastructure. In the 60s and early 70s,Nigeria was a dream. The dream of all investors.
The debilitating civil war notwithstanding, it didn’t dim the promise that the country, lumped in the same group with the Asian tigers would be the biggest economy on the continent. And with that, a leading economy in the world. Some of the Asian tigers have fulfilled their destinies. Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These are giant economies today.
The transformation of tiny Singapore is particularly instructive. At the onset of its metamorphosis, Singapore, a multi racial country unlike Nigeria, lacked the advantages we had and still do. We, for instance, are not multi –racial. We are big. Singapore was, still is, a tiny island. Its present population is not more than five million. When it started its determined match to greatness, under a determined leader,Lee Kuan Yew, he avoided what Nigerian leaders routinely turned to as a veritable tool of statecraft-sectionalism.
Today Singapore “is one of the world’s leading commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports. Its globalized and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially in manufacturing, which constituted 26 percent of Singapore’s GDP in 2005” according to Wikipedia.
In the 60s,Malaysia imported palm kernel seeds from Nigeria. Today that country is major exporter of palm oil in the world. And Nigeria? It is still the ‘potential’
In the 70s, we were told that Nigeria was among the ‘newly influential states’(NIS).Among such states were the Asian tigers. It was projected that in 25 years or there about, these NIS were going to be leading economies. But forty years down the road, Nigeria’s is far from prediction.Presently,fears are being freely expressed that the country may not meet the millennium development goals.
With poor infrastructure, and increasingly corrupt civil service,an increasing illiterate population and universities churning out half baked graduates, I am doubtful of a rebirth that will transform the nation into a powerhouse by 2020 which is just six short years away!
Presently the economy operates at the level of consumption. We all know that real development in anchored in manufacturing. But our numerical strength has turned the nation to a dumping ground. All sorts of products, most of them harmful to the economy ,have found ready market here. I don’t see reason to jump for joy on account of MINT. All hope is not lost. Lets start with good governance. Let those calling the shot start by not stealing and encouraging corruption. I strongly believe this could be the foundation for rebirth and fulfilling what has been prophesized years ago.
Eagles-Better luck next time
So hard fighting eagles have fallen to Ghana? It was a brave fight. I lost hope when we missed our scoring chances. I dreaded a penalty shoot out. Our goal keeper needs some more polish. Still it was a gallant performance. I guess bad luck was responsible. We outplayed the Ghanaians in every department except scoring. Sorry eagles, better luck next time.

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