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In the past year, I’ve visited Nigeria three times – more than I’ve travelled to any other country except the US. I mentioned this to an audience on my most recent trip, saying I wasn’t sure what it meant: Am I a leading, coincident or lagging indicator? Maybe I was just there for the power outages – they shield me from the latest news about Manchester United. (Don’t ask.)

 

Of course I aspire to be a leading indicator – and I’m hopeful Nigeria and much of the rest of Africa will demonstrate my farsightedness. It’s hardly a sure thing, but Nigeria really does have the potential to be a spectacular economic success.

 

I laid out some reasons for this hope when I nominated the country as one of the “Next 11” emerging economies – countries with lots of people and untapped economic promise, capable of following the path cut by the Bric nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). More recently, I’ve drawn particular attention to four of the 11, the MINT countries: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.

 

This weekend Nigeria rebased its figures for gross domestic product (GDP), adding in previously uncounted industries such as telecoms and information technology. On this new basis, the country’s GDP was roughly $500 billion (R5 trillion) last year, making Nigeria’s economy the biggest in Africa.

 

True, even on this new measure, Nigeria accounts for only around 0.5 percent of global GDP. The whole of Africa has an annual output of only perhaps $2 trillion, comparable with India or Russia.

 

But the region is growing well and its potential is impressive. Nigeria’s government has set the goal of becoming one of the world’s 20 biggest economies by 2020. I think that’s too soon to be likely, but I think Nigeria could be one of the top 15 by 2050.

 

In this scenario, remembering that Nigeria by then will be home to roughly 20 percent of Africa’s people, the country’s growth will power the continent. By the middle of this century, Africa’s economy will be close to 10 times bigger than it is today. That kind of growth will lift a huge number of Africans out of dire poverty.

 

It can be done, but it shouldn’t be assumed. African policymakers should be asking whether the recent improvement in the region’s economy and the rising interest of foreign investors is thanks to them, or thanks to a decade of strong commodity prices and staggeringly supportive monetary policies in the US and other advanced economies, causing investors to search far and wide for decent returns.

 

The external environment has already turned less friendly. China’s growth is slowing, commodity prices have eased and the US Federal Reserve is scaling back its bond purchases. For Africa, this puts the focus back on domestic policy.

 

Investors, contrary to what you may have heard, distinguish between countries that rise to such challenges and those that don’t. The recent strength of financial markets in India and Indonesia reflects, in part, a recognition of those countries’ efforts to deal with worsening external imbalances and rising inflation.

 

After many years of strong performances, Nigeria’s stock markets have been weak lately. This may be nothing more than a correction, but the feud between the government and Lamido Sanusi, the well-regarded governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, hasn’t helped. (Sanusi was suspended after he made allegations of mismanagement and misconduct at the state-owned oil company, where billions of dollars in revenue appear to have gone missing. Just this week a court awarded him damages in a harassment suit he brought against the government.)

 

In the longer term, demography is likely to dominate – along with three other factors: first, the ease with which modern technologies (such as mobile telecoms) can be brought to bear; second, the willingness of ambitious young Africans to travel abroad for education in elite universities in Europe and the US, then return to seek opportunities at home; and third, the striking energy, ingenuity and creativity that so many Africans – not just the well-travelled – bring to their work.

 

These things, vital as they may be, need the backing of better governance. Here’s a modest suggestion for African ministers, officials and heads of business: Turn up to meetings on time. That kind of thing isn’t hard and makes a good impression.

 

Next, find ways to make economic policy institutions more independent, transparent and honest. This goes double for central banks. Make it a priority to promote trade with neighbouring countries and with the rest of the region, rather than letting old animosities hold this back. International trade is one of the best ways to succeed, and the continent can easily make big wins here. And finally – maybe most important of all – promote better basic education. A well-educated elite isn’t enough.

 

I do some work for Teach for All, a network of social enterprises that aims to widen educational opportunity. At the recent Nigerian Economic Summit, a Teach for Nigeria initiative was announced.

 

That was good to hear. No nation or region can achieve its potential if its children are denied a decent education. Don’t worry too much about commodity prices. They won’t decide Africa’s future.


Jim O’Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

 

Nigeria's recalculated economy is worth $510 billion, by far the biggest in Africa, officials announced Sunday of a long overdue recount that gives the West African nation continental bragging rights but does little for the nearly 70 percent of its citizens living in poverty.

 

The new estimate of Nigeria's GDP adds previously uncounted industries like telecommunications, information technology, music, airlines, burgeoning online retail outlets and Nollywood film production that didn't exist when the last GDP count was made in 1990. Then, there were 300,000 landlines. Today, Nigeria has 100 million cell phone users.

 

With one fell swoop, Nigeria knocked out of the ring South Africa, whose GDP of $353 billion was previously counted the biggest on the continent, winning it a place as the only African member of the G20.

 

Figures announced by Nigeria's statistician general, Yemi Kale, nearly doubled previous estimates of the economy — from 42.3 trillion naira in 2012 to 80.3 trillion naira for 2013. He said that equated to $509.97 billion, using an official exchange rate of 157.48 naira to $1. But the naira has been trading more realistically at about 168 naira to the dollar for months, giving a figure of $477.98 billion.

 

Finance Minister Ngozi Ikonjo-Iweala told a news conference Sunday that the recalculation makes Nigeria the 26th largest economy in the world and raises its per capita income to $2,688, making it No. 121 in the world, up from No. 135.

 

That is still feeble compared to South Africa's $7,336 for its population of 48 million. South Africa, bedeviled by mining strikes, violent protests over services and a lackluster performance that has kept annual growth at around 3.5 percent, still has infrastructure unrivaled on the continent, most notably a power sector that generates 10 times more electricity as Nigeria.

 

Nigeria's revised figures will lower its much-vaunted growth rate of 7 percent but also will decrease an already low debt to GDP ratio of 21 percent, which should lower interest rates should the government want to borrow more, economists said.

 

Financial analyst Bismarck Rewane called the revisions "a vanity. The Nigerian population is not better off tomorrow because of that announcement. It doesn't put more money in the bank, more food in their stomach. It changes nothing."

 

Nigerians took to social networks to share their feelings. "So Nigeria has now supplanted South Africa as Africa's largest economy. But I've not had light (electricity) for seven days, so it means nothing to me," said one tweet.

 

Another commented: "Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy - on paper. So technically, I'm rich in theory."

Kelly Rowland Thrills Lagosians At 'Love Like a Movie 2'  and Brandy was in Enugu to perform with UB-40

 

A U.S. music star, Kelly Rowland, on Saturday night performed alongside some Nigerian musicians at the second edition of "Love Like A Movie " Valentine Concert in Lagos.

 

The concert, organised by Darey Art-Alade, took place at the Ocean View Grounds of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

 

The Nigerian artistes who featured at the show include Timi Dakolo, Waje, Tiwa Savage, Zaina, Mo Eazy, Eva, Abigail, Muna and Lamborghinny.

 

The show was centred on love.

Kelly-Rowland-spends-Valentines-Day-with-fiancé-Tim-Witherspoon-in-Nigeria-460x344Kelly Rowland and her Manager cum fiancé, Tim Witherspoon

Brandy performing in South Africa 2013.Brandy


It kicked off with a crane dropping a singing Art-Alade on the stage to the excitement of the audience who gave him applauds.

 

He sang a number of his popular tunes and some evergreen love ballads from different artistes worldwide.

 

Kelly Rowland dropped tunes from her own personal repertoire and from a collection recorded while a member of the girl group, Destiny's Child, which also had Beyonce and Michelle Williams.

 

The crane remained a major part of the show as some of the dancers performed their routines while hanging on it or dangling from it.

 

A minor hiccup occurred during Kelly Rowland's performance as some technical hitches with the sound led to her walking off the stage.

 

She later returned to conclude her performance after Art-Alade tendered an apology.

 

A U.S. music star, Brandy, was in the audience.

 

She looked happy throughout the show and danced to some of the tunes.

 

Brandy was in the country for another Valentine's weekend show where she would perform with UB-40.

 

Art-Alade told NAN after the show that he was glad to host the second edition of the show successfully.

 

He said that music was one of the biggest exports from Nigeria at the moment, and that having such a show in Nigeria was a sign of advancement.

 

"We have come a long way in our art; we are glad to take it to the world or bring the world to see it here," he said.

 

The first edition of 'Love Like A Movie' held at the Expo Hall of the Eko Hotel and Suites on Feb. 14, 2013.

 

The special guest at that time was a U.S. reality television star, Kim Kardashian.

 

(NAN)

 

South Africa could soon lose its status as Africa’s biggest economy to Nigeria, but in the race to be the continental powerhouse, being biggest may not be everything.

 

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, will complete a rebasing of its gross domestic product (GDP) by next month, its statistics office says, which economists estimate could expand the size of its economy by between 20 and 60 percent.

 

This exercise, which has missed a string of previous deadlines, looks set to transform Nigeria into the continent’s most important economy measured in terms of GDP size.

 

With a current economic output of around $290 billion, the West African country – whose population is more than three times the size of South Africa’s 51 million – already boasts faster growth.

 

While it has expanded by an average of seven percent annually over the past decade, South Africa has averaged three percent growth, held back by rigid employment laws and recurring labour unrest.

 

But even if it slips from the top spot, South Africa can still claim the crown of being the more diversified and sophisticated economy. Its financial markets are among the world’s most advanced and while its $350 billion economy is smaller than Mexico and Indonesia, its stock market is larger.

 

For Nigeria, the aim of the rebasing exercise is to change the base year for calculating output to 2008 from 1990 to reflect sectors of the economy that have since grown in importance, such as telecoms and IT.

 

However, it is still heavily reliant on oil exports, accounting for some 80 percent of government revenue, and an enlarged GDP will do little to immediately improve life for nearly 100 million of its citizens who live on less than $1 a day.

 

While agriculture and power sector reforms would improve Nigeria’s fortunes, turbulent politics and a resilient and bloody Boko Haram insurgency in its north take some of the shine off its positive growth story.

 

Whenever it happens, Nigeria overtaking South Africa as Africa’s economic top dog is “kind of everything and nothing,” said David Cowan, Citigroup’s Africa economist.

 

“It is everything because you are then the largest economy in Africa so there’s a lot of kudos attached to that. But the reality remains that, on the ground, for every Nigerian there’s no difference ... South Africa can still call itself the most sophisticated economy in Africa.”

 

South Africa’s expected retreat in the GDP ranking will nevertheless be a big psychological adjustment for a country that has often taken its lead position for granted.

 

It may also have geopolitical implications, raising questions about whether South Africa should be the sole African representative in the G20 and the Brics group of the most powerful emerging economies, alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China.

 

Nigeria has been included in the freshly coined Mint group of emerging economic giants, along with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey.

 

INVESTOR APPEAL

 

Michael Power, investment strategist at Investec Asset Management, likens South Africa’s situation to that of the United States, whose economic power is expected to be superseded by faster-growing and more populous China eventually.

 

“Just as the United States is contemplating the prospect of what it’s going to be like to be number two in the world, South Africa (will) have to contemplate what it’s going to be like to be number two in Africa,” he said.

 

The rise of Nigeria has taken many South Africans by surprise, said Kevin Lings, chief economist at Stanlib, as the country, burdened with an image of corruption and violence, is often portrayed negatively in the media.

 

“Every time I’ve raised this discussion in the last year, that it looks inevitable that Nigeria will become Africa’s biggest (economy), most audiences are shocked,” he said.

 

“People have had a certain mindset about the role of South Africa. They haven’t updated that in terms of more recent developments.”

 

The GDP rebasing is likely to enhance Nigeria’s appeal to investors looking for high growth and alternative markets, while South Africa, with its anaemic economy and faltering currency may appear less compelling, analysts say.

 

“South Africa’s good infrastructure and sophisticated services industries provide a much easier business environment for investors than Nigeria, but relatively low growth rates, market size and saturation are areas of concern that may turn investment to Nigeria,” said Dianna Games, chief executive of business advisory Africa @ Work.

 

Still, Simon Freemantle, a senior analyst at Standard Bank, believes multinationals looking for a base from which to expand into the continent will continue to choose South Africa given its effective financial and legal systems.

 

For investors who may need to seek redress when things go wrong, its enduring, more independent and transparent institutions are a plus.

 

Decades from now, the gap in size between the two economies will be even wider. By 2050, Nigeria’s GDP will be just under $6 trillion in today’s money as its population heads towards 400 million, predicts Charles Robertson of Renaissance Capital.

 

South Africa, by contrast, would have 57 million people and a $1.5 trillion economy.

 

Yet that would give Nigeria a per capita GDP of about $15,000, to South Africa’s $27,000, underscoring the huge development challenges faced by the former.

 

“Even with the very good trajectory that we see for Nigeria it’s going to take a long time for 170 million people to benefit from this,” said Robertson. “It’s the same in China. You’ve still got hundreds of millions earning virtually nothing and that’s after an extraordinary 30 years.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 05 January 2014 18:53

Nigeria: Rethinking the mistake of 1914

But what was the “Mistake of 1914”? Was it the fact or the act of amalgamation? Those who blame the “fact of amalgamation” say there should never have been a Nigeria, that Nigeria is a fraud, that the various ethnic groups had nothing in common and that Nigeria is just a colonial contraption.

 

In the beginning, there was a mistake – the “Mistake of 1914”. In split seconds, some 250 ethnic groups were compressed into one map by the British colonial masters. The contraption was poetically nicknamed “Nigeria” – an obvious contraction of “Niger Area”. There had been an unruly competition for African territory among the European colonial powers. They hovered over the continent, like vultures, looking for territories and resources to capture and devour.  In 1884-85, they queued up at the Berlin Conference to share the loot. The British were gifted with the slices of Nigeria. They then created the Nigerian protectorates for their pleasure.

 

Before then, there was no Nigeria. No Southern Nigeria, no Northern Nigeria. There were many ethnic groups sprinkled randomly over the landmass. There were empires, kingdoms, city-states and emirates. War and peace united and divided hamlets, communities, villages, towns, cities and territories. Trade, military adventures and political alliances crossed borders, tribes and tongues. But there was no Nigeria.

 

Then, the tag “Yoruba” did not refer to all the people we now call Yoruba. It referred to only the Oyo-speaking people who lived in places such as Oyo-Ile, Ibadan, Ede, Osogbo, Iwo and Ogbomoso, etc. Ekitis were called Ekitis. Ifes were called Ifes. Egbas were called Egbas. Ijebus were called Ijebus. Ijeshas were called Ijeshas. They were not called Yorubas.

 

In fact, the first newspaper to be published on these shores, established in 1859, was named Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Egba ati Yoruba, literally: “Newspaper for the Egba and the Yoruba”. As at 1859, therefore, Egbas were not referred to as Yorubas. It was the colonial masters and their missionary siblings, for ease of demography and identity, that applied the common identity of Yoruba to all descendants of Oduduwa who greet “eku”, “eka” and “okun” – stretching across what we now have as Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun and parts of Kwara and Kogi states. Today’s “Yoruba” national identity is, therefore, largely a colonial-era development.

 

In truth, too, the people we call Igbo today were not all known as Igbo before the amalgamation. For instance, Aro and Onitsha often rejected the ideology of corporate Igbo identity. B.O.N. Eluwa, who was the General Secretary of the Ibo Federal (State) Union, told the story of how he toured “Igboland” from 1947 to 1951 to convince “Igbo” villagers that they were indeed “Igbos”. He said these villagers “couldn’t even imagine” that categorisation. David B. Abernethy wrote: “In the 1930s, many Aro and Onitsha Ibos (Igbos) consciously rejected identification as Ibos (Igbos), preferring to think of themselves as separate, superior groups.” In simple language, therefore, the popular Igbo identity in use today is post-amalgamation.

 

The Igbo story, as told by Eluwa in his book, Ado-Na-Idu: History of Igbo Origin, is instructive. Unlike the Yoruba who migrated as a group, Eluwa said the Igbo migrated in clans – and that should explain the noticeable cultural and linguistic differences. The people we call Anioma today (Delta Igbo, Onitsha, etc) migrated along with the Edo, hence the cultural and lingual similarities (dressing, kingship, “do”, “ndo” etc). The Nsukka Igbo migrated through present-day Benue State, hence the similarities with the Idoma, including facial marks. Many clans in today’s Anambra settled in Igalaland before moving Southward. On the basis of these accounts, many Igbo clans apparently lived in the North centuries ago.

 

What’s more, what we call “North” today was just a large expanse of land occupied by various sovereignties – the Kanem-Bornu empire, the Hausa kingdoms, the Kwararrafa (Jukun) empire and the Nupe kingdom, etc.  Not until the Hausa kingdoms were captured into the Sokoto Caliphate through Usuman Dan Fodio’s jihad was there a dominant sovereignty in the North. But the North was never one entity. The Kano man, though Hausa, called himself Abakani and the Zaria man Abazasage. They were Hausas and Muslims quite all right, but they were always at war, killing each other. They did not see themselves as Hausa kith and kin, but as rivals trying to expand their territories, just like the pre-colonial “Yoruba” kingdoms.

 

In sum, contrary to the popular impression, it is not just “Nigeria” that is a colonial contraption. Most of the ethnic and regional identities we so dearly cling to today were either colonial contraptions or constructed by us in the contestation for power in the embryonic Nigeria. The British created the Niger Coast Protectorate in 1893, formed the Northern Protectorate in 1900, and added the Lagos Colony to the Niger Coast Protectorate in 1906 to establish the Southern Protectorate. In 1912, Sir Frederick Lugard was appointed governor for both Northern and Southern protectorates in preparation for the amalgamation for ease of administration.

Then came January 1, 1914. Then came the mistake. The “Mistake of 1914”.

 

But what was the “Mistake of 1914”? Was it the fact or the act of amalgamation? Those who blame the “fact of amalgamation” say there should never have been a Nigeria, that Nigeria is a fraud, that the various ethnic groups had nothing in common and that Nigeria is just a colonial contraption. Conversely, those who see the “act of amalgamation” as the “mistake” posit that the problem was not the amalgamation per se but the failure of the colonial masters to consciously integrate the 250 ethnic nationalities into one nation. It was like proclaiming a couple man and wife without courtship and without honeymoon. This foundational error in nation-building, they argue, is the “mistake”.

 

Meanwhile, to say the North and the South had “nothing” in common is a complete exaggeration. Commerce and migration made their paths cross. The story of the farming, trading and consumption of the kola nut puts a lie to the suggestion that the North and the South had “nothing” in common. Many Southern ethnic groups that migrated from Upper Sudan actually settled in the North before their Southward journey. Some political scientists will even argue that the amalgamation was a natural consequence of these historical links. Those who claim the amalgamation was intended to feed the North with Southern resources apparently care little about economic history. For centuries before the amalgamation, Kano was one of the biggest centres of trade in Africa.

 

I would rather think the biggest challenge to our nationhood today is how to move away from the ethnocentric mindset of the pre-Independence era. Most of our founding fathers were ethnic nationalists. A notable exception, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, eventually abandoned his pan-Nigerian ideals when confronted with our stark political reality. Today, we are still searching for that pan-Nigerian identity. Unfortunately, more and more ethnic nationalists and their offspring are taking the political centre stage and reinforcing these divisions, with balkanisation in mind. Nevertheless, on several indices of integration – such as inter-ethnic marriage, cultural assimilation and internal migration – we are not doing badly, at least compared to 1914 or 1960. However, the political mismanagement of our diversity means we will continue to live with conflicts and tensions.

But we who believe in “unity in diversity” should refuse to give up on Nigeria. With competent and patriotic leadership, our march to greatness will be unstoppable. This I believe.

 

•NOTE: This article is an abridged version of a chapter in my debut book, Rethinking Nigeria, due for release later this year.

 

simon-kolawole1-250x300Simon Kolawole writes from ThisDaty

Sunday, 05 January 2014 18:50

Nigerian National Anthem and Pledge

Nigerian National Anthem

Nigerian flag

Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey

To serve our fatherland

With love and strength and faith

The labour of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause

Guide our leader’s right

Help our youth the truth to know

In love and honesty to grow

And living just and true

Great lofty heights attain

To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

Audio: National Anthem

 

National Pledge

I pledge to Nigeria my Country

To be faithful, loyal and honest

To serve Nigeria with all my strength

To defend her unity

And uphold her honour and glory

So help me God.

 

Nigeria Under-17s are world champions after hammering Mexico Under-17s 3-0 to win the 15th edition of the Fifa U17 World Cup on Friday.

 

An early own-goal by Erick Aguirre, a strike from Kelechi Iheanacho midway through the second half and a late effort from Musa Muhammed were all the highly-talented Golden Eaglets needed to seal a fourth title on Asian soil.

 

The Africans' win over the defending world and Concacaf champions sees them lift the trophy for a record fourth time, alongside their triumphs of 1985, 1993 and 2007.

 

El Tri dominated the early moments of the tension-soaked encounter but were unable to break through the Nigeria defence.

 

A few minutes into the match, Ivan Ochoa forced Dele Alampasu to make a brilliant save when his header was punched for a corner by the goalkeeper.

 

Mexico’s dominance was short-lived, though, after Aguirre attempted to clear away Taiwo Awoniyi’s pass meant for Musa Yahaya but accidentally put the ball in the back of his own net.

 

Mexico launched a comeback but their attacking forays were brought under constant check by the Muhammed-anchored defence. Alampasu made another top save midway through the first half, preventing Ulises Jaimes’s header from a free kick from finding the back of the net.

 

Yahaya went close to doubling the lead on 38 minutes when he rattled the crossbar from distance as Mexico battled to keep the score down.

 

With less than a minute to the end of the first half, Awoniyi’s acrobatic bicycle kick was parried terrifically by goalkeeper Raul Gudino, who cleared away the Imperial Academy forward’s effort.

 

Golden Eaglets’ onslaught continued 11 minutes after the restart when Iheanacho put another past a shell-shocked Mexico, after Gudino could not hold on to a strike from captain Muhammed.

 

Mexico U17 boss Raul Gutierrez made all his substitutions midway through the second half but the changes could not lift his side, as the Golden Eaglets stamped their authority on the game.

Nig 12fifa.com

 

Mexico did fashion a rare chance as the second half wore on, but Ochoa’s header from close range went off target.

 

However, Muhammed sealed the win with less than nine minutes to play in Abu Dhabi courtesy of a well-taken free kick, after Iheanacho had been fouled by Pedro Teran.

 

Nigeria now hold the record for the most goals scored in a single U17 World Cup tournament with 26 goals, eclipsing the record set by Germany in 2011.

Shina Oludare

Moghalu’s Africa is quintessentially African. It is not borrowed. It is not a copycat. It is not stolen. It is not reliant on European blueprints or leftovers. It is endogenously African.

The title of Kingsley Moghalu’s new book, “Emerging Africa,” is puzzling. Rather than being an affirmation of its title, Moghalu’s book begs the question: “Is Africa really emerging?”

 

Moghalu is suitably skeptical of conventional wisdom. He rejects popular Western thinking in days of old which derided Africa as the Dark Continent; with the cover story of The Economist proclaiming it “The Hopeless Continent.” He is also emphatically cynical about the new tendency to celebrate Africa’s resurgence prematurely, with the same London Economist seeking atonement for its previous impetuosity with a cover story now declaring Africa: “The Hopeful Continent.”

 

Not so fast, cautions Moghalu; let us address certain fundamental questions first. “Is there real economic transformation going on in Africa, or is what we are seeing merely the façade of an Africa that has become a dumping ground for foreign goods and services?” His answer provides ample food for thought: Africa’s “lions” and “cheetahs” may be on the move, but Moghalu insists this will prove to be illusory if the prognosis is that they are to be armed with Blackberry and Android devices produced in Asia and North America.

 

Moghalu sees beyond the fig-leaves. He does not deny the fact that sub-Saharan Africa currently enjoys remarkably more buoyant economic output than most other areas of the world. He even acknowledges that seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are African. Nevertheless, he insists, the bottom-line remains that Africa accounts for a measly 2% of world trade and the combined GDP of its 54 countries is only equal to that of Chicago, USA.

 

So when Moghalu asks if we are nearing the end of poverty and under-development in Africa, the answer is inevitably: “Not yet!” He laments the fact that the fundamental questions of why-is the-world-the-way-it-is, who-are-we–in-it, where-are-we-going, and how-do-we-get-there are yet to be addressed and answered in Africa. This is what his ambitious book sets out to provide. Its success or failure rests on the extent to which Moghalu brings any degree of clarity to these burning issues.

 

Worldview

Kingsley Moghalu is first and foremost a teacher. He writes as a teacher. Although his book is essentially policy prescriptive, it nevertheless targets the young and upcoming African to whom the future belongs. Moghalu’s Africa is quintessentially African. It is not borrowed. It is not a copycat. It is not stolen. It is not reliant on European blueprints or leftovers. It is endogenously African. Here is a man who obviously feels no inferiority complex to westerners. I believe he has competed with them one-on-one and has bested them. Therefore, he negotiates an Africa with a worldview of self-confidence and self-belief.

 

Moghalu’s siren is an African version of Obama’s “yes we can.” Yes, we can transform our economies within a generation. Yes, we can do it without undue reliance on foreign aid. Yes we can create our own endogenous technology without relying on the pipe-dream of technology transfers. Yes we can renovate, innovate, and modernize by forming a nexus between politics and economics. We can re-energise and mobilize ourselves through an A-team of constructive leadership. We can engage with the international community on our own African terms. We can move beyond reliance on natural resources and extractive industries to science and technology.

 

But first, there must be a paradigm shift in the African worldview. Moghalu’s position is that Africa has not developed because Africans have not yet agreed to develop. Agreement to develop would create a paradigm shift in African thinking; a drastic review of Africa’s place and role in the world, and where it needs to be. This would then require the mobilisation of resources, not only economic, but also political, in order to achieve that end. Says Moghalu: “it is the channeling of group energy based on a unity of belief about origins and destinations that creates transformation.”

 

Lofty words from a man who admits belief in the value of propaganda. He declares: “The fundamental proposition of this book is that the conscious propagation of ideas, values, intent, plans and knowledge is fundamental to the establishment and actualisation of worldviews; and economic transformation must be based on a worldview if it is to have depth, meaning and sustainability. Development is first a state of the mind, brought about on the basis of a view of the world and a people’s place in it.”

 

Resource flows

Moghalu maintains foreign aid is not a path out of poverty into development. Certainly, the volume of aid is grossly insufficient relative to need. But Moghalu goes further to argue that foreign aid actually militates against growth and development. Indeed, he maintains the chief instrument for the under-development of the continent is foreign aid. This is surely an exaggeration he fails to substantiate adequately. He is right that decades and billions of development assistance has failed to produce significant development in recipient countries, but this does not mean Africa’s underdevelopment must be laid at the doorstep of foreign aid. The fact that many aid-dependent countries are poorer today than they were decades ago does not mean they would not have been even poorer still without foreign aid.

 

However, Moghalu is right: aid is not a prerequisite for African development. He justifies this by reference to extra-African examples. Emergent China has not relied on foreign aid. Neither has India in recent times. But what really riles Moghalu is the master-servant relationship that the aid structure creates between Western donors and African recipients and its psychological impediments to self-reliance.

 

In the same vein, Moghalu is sceptical about the value of foreign investment in Africa. He insists there is no such thing as “transfer of technology.” Nations and firms do not willingly transfer their technological advantages to others. For Moghalu, the real interest of foreign capital is not the recipient country’s development, but profits and raw material extraction. It becomes important therefore to formulate investment policies that ensure that the economic and strategic interests of African countries are adequately served by foreign investment inflows.

 

Globalisation

Moghalu raises a simple but fundamentally important question: who is responsible for Africa’s future? His answer is without ambiguity: it must be Africa itself. His caution is that we must not be seduced by all the current talk in the West about globalisation. Yes, Africa is and remains an indelible part of the international community. But Moghalu insists we must negotiate our participation in that community on our own African terms.

 

For Moghalu, globalisation is easily colonialism in a modern garb. This neo-colonialism is infinitely more sophisticated and better disguised. The IMF gospel of structural adjustment and liberalisation simply led to the de-industrialisation of the continent by opening local manufacturers to disadvantaged competition with more sophisticated foreign goods. Premature trade liberalisation also denied poor African countries of income previously derived from tariffs.

 

In spite of all the song and dance made about globalisation, Moghalu says African countries need to realise that there is actually no “international community.” While paying lip-service to globalisation, the countries in the international system continue to pursue their national interest with even greater single-mindedness. Africa must be no different. Moghalu prescribes an endogenous growth model that graduates out of raw materials and the extractive industries into manufactured goods provided first for the protected local market and then the regional market. It is only from there that we can then launch out to engage the lip-synching globalisation world as an economic power in our own right through the exploitation of our comparative advantage.

 

In the words of Moghalu: “Africa’s path from poverty to wealth goes through one main highway – African countries themselves and endogenous production for internal markets; value added manufacturing and the export of complex, differentiated products to regional markets.”

 

Cautionary notes

Seminal books like this one are written out of office. How Moghalu managed to pull this off is remarkable, even if “Emerging Africa” was edited from the agglomeration of different things he had written over the years. But I am reticent when policy-makers get busy with making policy prescriptions. Who then will implement the prescriptions and when?

 

In addition, a book about emerging Africa should not be too focused on Nigerian exemplification. Nigeria is not the only country in Africa, even if an important one. Moreover, a book about finding African solutions to African problems should provide critical audit of African institutions such as the African Union. The United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions that fell under severe criticism of Moghalu are already invalidated as institutional frameworks for Africa’s development.

Conclusion

Someone once said in order to get the right answers; you have to ask the right questions. This is what Moghalu achieves in “Emerging Africa.” Some of the questions he asks seem to point to his own personal frustrations and dilemma: “Why have African countries failed to prosper when several of them, like Nigeria, have numerous intellectuals and high-achieving professionals?”

 

Undoubtedly, Moghalu himself is one of Nigeria’s leading intellectuals and high-achieving professionals. Moreover, he is not a bystander. He is now engaged in the highest echelons of government as Nigeria’s Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, no less. So what are we to expect now that intellectuals like Moghalu have decided to return to serve?

 

The danger here is that, wittingly or unwittingly, Moghalu might end up with some kind of self-indictment. But he seems up to the challenge. Inevitably, he dwells on the salutary changes that have taken place within the Nigerian financial system since Lamido Sanusi took over at the Central Bank. But how far-reaching are those changes? Moreover, how long-lasting will they be? As can be expected, Moghalu protects his turf jealously. He says: “Nigeria needs to establish a culture of policy continuity in order to achieve sustainable economic transformation. Too many policy initiatives have short shelf lives.”

 

Moghalu’s book is a must-read for all those concerned about the pace and trajectory of Africa’s economic transformation. It brings fresh new insights into the nature of the African economic quagmire and provides a beacon light at the end of the tunnel for Africa’s resurgence.

 

Mr. Femi Aribisala writes from lagos, Nigeria.

Nigeria accused Liechtenstein of using legal challenges as a pretext to cling on to 185 million euros ($250 million) stolen by former military dictator Sani Abacha who died 14 years ago.

Nigeria has been fighting to recover the money for years, but companies linked to the Abacha family keep going to court to prevent the funds being repatriated, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

A Liechtenstein government spokesman said the country was making efforts to return the money but a complaint in the European Court of Human Rights brought by companies affected was still pending.

"We feel that the Liechtenstein people have been stalling for 14 years," Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters.

"They are just looking for excuses and I think this is where international civil society should mount pressure on these people," she added. "The authorities are holding things back."

Abacha looted between $3 billion and $5 billion of public money during his five years ruling Africa's top oil producer from 1993-1998, Transparency International says.

A Liechtenstein court ordered the Abacha money confiscated in 2012, but companies linked to his family have mounted a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights and Liechtenstein fears being liable for the money should they win.

"We're asking: why have they been keeping our money all this time? Fronting companies for Abacha family are trying to delay things and Liechtenstein are hiding behind that," Okonjo-Iweala said. "Somebody's making money off it."

 

Finance Minister, Okonjo-IwealaFinance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala



BANKING SECRECY

The Liechtenstein spokesman said one of the reasons the cases have dragged on for so long is that Nigeria refused the examination of witnesses in its courts as part of the procedure.

Liechtenstein, like neighbor Switzerland, is seen as an attractive destination for wealth, partly because banking secrecy laws can help keep it away from prying eyes.

Nigeria has recovered around $1.3 billion of Abacha's money so far from various European jurisdictions - more than a third of it from Switzerland.

"Switzerland has actually been quite good. They returned $500 million. But there's still money lying in other parts of Europe," Okonjo-Iweala said.

Other places where Abacha held money include France, Britain and offshore centers in the British isles like Jersey.

Nigeria has appointed World Bank consultants to oversee the money and ensure it is properly spent, Okonjo-Iweala said.

The Liechtenstein spokesman said that, despite the court case, authorities were "looking at the possibility of returning money ahead of schedule whilst still covering liability risks."

The role of Western banks in aiding African corruption was highlighted during the trial of James Ibori, ex-governor of Nigeria's oil-producing Delta state last year.

Ibori and his mistress were convicted in a trial that showed they had laundered millions of pounds (dollars) through accounts they held at several British banks.

($1 = 0.7373 euros)

Monday, 30 September 2013 12:57

My Tribe is Nigeria

A year ago, my five year-old son was asked to give a talk to his class about himself. He stuns his teachers when he tells them he’s Nigerian. The teacher corrects him. “You’re American, your father was Nigerian as were your grandparents,” the head teacher tries to correct him.

 

“No, I’m not American. I’m a Nigerian. I just live in America,” he shot back.

 

The panicked teacher who has probably never taught a black kid in her career puts a call to his mother. His mother tried to correct my son’s impression of who he was. But, the boy was stubborn. This is what his father told him and his father is never wrong.

 

Funny thing was, at about that same period, I was making my way through the immigrations lines at Murtala Muhammed airport where there is really no sign that says “welcome to Nigeria” but the stuffy heat in the tiny hall and the customs and immigrations officials with 19th century methods and attitudes straight out of a dentist’s chair welcome you in their own unique way.

 

At the moment my son was affirming his “Nigerian-ness” I was probably staring angrily, as I always do, on a portion of the form that asks questions about my tribe, religion and local government area. Of all those, the one I hate the most is tribe, disguised on the forms as place of origin.

 

Tribe. Just five alphabets and it’s the one poison that is ruining the Nigerian nation. Once, men and women fought for Nigeria’s independence. They were called nationalists because they represented a nation. Then came the military who set in motion a bitter war that made us aware of how very different we were.

 

My son sees my friends gather in the house and talk things Nigeria. He sees us watch Nigerian games on television and proudly waves the green-white-green flag. He rides in the car and mimes the Nigerian hip-hop songs. He doesn’t know under the American skies, he’s been shielded from the reality of a country sometimes so divided you wonder, is it really a country?

 

A government that should be busy repairing infrastructures instead tasks itself with reminding Nigerians what makes them different. Once, a key part of the anthem was, “though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”. Now, it might as well mean “ yes, tribe and tongue are different so pack your bags and go to your forefathers’ house”.

 

A man is born in Lagos but his parents are Ibo. He has no right to aspire to the highest office in the state because everyone thinks he’s a stranger in the land of birth even though he pays his taxes in Lagos. It’s the same for a Yoruba in Kano and an Hausa kid in Onitsha. Forget it if you’re a minority. You have no hope except you were lucky enough to go to school without a shoe and happen to be reading newspapers to pass the time when your boss dies and you have to fill his shoes.

 

Worse, you can get deported in your own country. I thought the Russians did it just to freeze the butts of criminals in Siberia. In Nigeria, they do it because you’re poor, forgetting that it’s the government’s duty to provide a threshold of survival for the citizens. And, everyone is quiet until it affects one tribe and they forget that within that tribe, they also self-discriminate.

 

Yet, we are a federation. We’re not talking Goodluck Jonathan. He’s just been here a few years and being a minority, you can’t accuse him of getting here on the wings of his tribe. Or, can you? We’re talking about a life, a pattern and a cancer that’s ridden the whole nation for decades.

When they don’t haul tribe at you, they fish out its twin – religion.

Love him or deride him, one thing Majek Fashek, the one time musical prodigy who took a wrong turn on the streets of New York got eternally right about Nigeria was the line in his song that “religion na politics. Lots of people know all the tricks. Religion na politics”.

 

You wonder why this is so? Why should this continue? Why should a country with so much promise because of its diversity at birth be trashed in the gutters of history half a century later? You wonder if there’s a way out?

 

You can’t hide from the grip of tribalism in Nigeria, even amongst the learned elite. I’ve noticed that even my friends now congregate mostly in tribal caucuses. I sit with a politician waving a broom that he says will sweep the country clean but he’s surrounded by men who speak his tongue.

 

You can argue that tribe is essential to an identity, that a tongue gives you a sense of historical continuum and you may argue that every country has a tribe. But, what you can’t argue is that no country uses tribe and religion to divide and batter its people like our leaders do in Nigeria.

 

I still wonder what I’ll tell my son the day he asks me what is the meaning of tribe. They don’t really have it in his America. And, you wonder why they still celebrate it in his father’s father Nigeria fifty-three years after we all came together formally as a nation.

Kindly follow the writer  on Twitter:  @iam_ose

Ose Oyamendan is a Nigerian writing from United States of America.
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