Lukmon Akintola, Lagos
Various political analysts have questioned Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa owing to series of crises ranging from political malfeasance to incessant security challenges to economic downturn have rocked this nation. This position, however, seems quite untrue as revelations from other African states, especially its immediate neighbors have shown that they are highly dependent on Nigeria.
Nigeria, being the Africa’s most population state with about 182.2million is currently experiencing economic downturn. This is evident in the statement of the minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who affirmed that the current economic situation of the country is in a state of quagmire. She said in her words “In economic terms, if you have two periods of negative growth, you are technically in a recession. But I don’t think we should much time on labels, we are in tough situations.” Other stakeholders like the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele also painted a gloomy picture of the current Nigerian economy, where he noted that inflation cum stagnation has simultaneously struck the Nigerian state.
This pitiable Nigeria’s economic situation has had dire consequences on other African states like Benin Republic and Ghana which depend on Nigeria for supply of electricity and power. This is apparent in the comment made by President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon, who disclosed that his country has been severely affected by the downturn in the Nigeria’s economy. This is base on the failure of the Nigerian government to supply power to Benin Republic that highly depends on her. This is not unconnected with the incessant bombing of gas pipelines by the Niger Delta militants that have led to a sharp fall in the power supply to 3,485 megawatts.
In his words, Patrice Talon noted that, “As Nigeria is not using its potential, it is making other West African countries suffer. The crisis hitting Nigeria is what is hitting us. This is an opportunity for us to go back and develop other sectors.” This revelation shows that Nigeria holds a significant stronghold in Africa and indeed it is a ‘big brother’ in the continent. This also reveals that an injury on the Nigerian state is an injury to the African continent.
Series of events in the past have indicated the importance place Nigeria holds in the continent of Africa. A good instance is the Nigeria’s military and economic support to some African states in the quest for political independence. State like Angola and Zimbabwe enjoyed Nigeria’s support during their struggle for political freedom. In the same vein, In 1976 , Nigeria championed financial assistance tagged South African Relief Fund (SARF) to the victimized blacks in South Africa during the peak of the Apartheid regime in the state. Nigeria also provided $5million to the ANC and the Pan African Congress (PAC) annually. All these aids were borne out of the Afro-centric nature of the Nigeria’s foreign policy and the dominant belief of the Nigerian founding founders the state exist in other fulfill ‘a historical mission’ and ‘manifest destiny’.
It is also imperative to note that the xenophobic decrees of General Mohammodu Buhari to resolve the pervasive economic crisis during his military regime in 1983 have dire consequences on Nigeria’s immediate neighbors and the rest of Africa. Buhari’s move to close Nigerian borders, reduction of importation and the extermination of illegal aliens in Nigeria affected our neighboring countries because most of their citizens were deported to their countries. These decrees affected African countries like Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Chad, among others. The trajectory of these past events indicates how policy changes in Nigeria affect other countries in Africa.
It is however, worthy of note that some African states are making progress despite the downturn in Nigeria’s economy and this has put Nigeria Africa’s ‘big brother’ role in question. Countries like South Africa, Ghana are still recording successes in their economy.
Nevertheless, the current economic recession in Nigeria has affected other African states and thus, still remains a major concern in the country and the continent at large. Efforts by policy makers and stakeholders are ongoing to end the sorry case of the Nigeria’s economy. This was made known by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, who said the federal government will keep engaging experts to tackle to the present economic problem of the country.
“We will continue to engage with experts and other stakeholders so we can measure progress of the economic policies that have been put in place. The challenges are many but the opportunities are much greater, we are clearly on the path to building an economy that will create jobs and ensure inclusive growth.” he expressed