By Morenike Taire
For sure, everything became uncertain after the crash last year of the money and capital markets in the worldâ€™s financial capitals and all dependent on them such as Nigeria, except one thing: the world is going to get far smaller than it has always been.
We are going to see, not the erosion of or threat to globalisation, but a consolidation of it.
In the first place, we will see-as we are already doing- a change in the definition of civilisation. Whereas the latter had everything to do with technology in the latter part of the last century and the technology boom and resulting euphoria had appeared set to last forever, it has, today, to do with a lot more and in some cases a lot less.
When those markets crashed- and the crashes were not to do with technology- two things happened. One was the loss of confidence in the almightiness of technology.
Google might be able to produce one million suggestions to your search in the twinkling of an eye, but biological scientists insist it still cannot function as fast as the human brain, depending on how hard you want to push it. It is the service and resource dependent economies, such as those dependent on tourism and â€“yes- oil, that are rocking this economic storm best.
The second is the loss of confidence in and respect for the present global economic order.
It had become the case of the physicians who could not, when push came to shove, heal themselves.
Of course, the worldâ€™s political and Economic Left has always insisted on this and not many took them seriously. And neither should it have been.
What appears to be the triumph of Socialism over Capitalism is actually not, but the triumph of realism over the abstract, the seen rather than the imagined, the material rather than the virtual. Capitalism is like the psychotropic drug cocktail colloquially referred to as crack.
No one gets a taste of it and the freedom it inspires, and doesnâ€™t get hooked. Certainly, no one can imagine any longer a world without competition.
But this is diverting. While jobs are being lost and ways of life are being threatened, governments are getting desperate to get back the confidence ofÂ the people by discovering new markets, exploiting emerging ones and creating those that did not exist.
The way developing countries such as Nigeria relate in terms of trade and other economic affairs with the first world will become far more flexible as the first world will be more interested in giving concessions than in the not at all distant past when it dictated conditions both for obtaining raw materials from the third world and for selling its finished products.
All the talk about election re-engineering from the US Secretary of State during her most recent visit is a drive for the furtherance of the cause of democracy. It is also, doubtless, a push for the employment of US technology and intelligence. It is just diligence, fair and square.
There is no doubt that we need e-technology, not only in solving our legendary record keeping national habits which have kept hospitals as much as law enforcement underdeveloped, but for the reduction of corruption in elections and resultant governments.
There is also no doubt that we need our raw materials now more than ever.
Last week, a song and a dance was made in the media over an Indian company which bought off former Katsina Steel Rolling Company (KSRC) remitting almost a billion naira to the Nigerian government in taxes. This company employs less than 300 people, by its own accounts, from the local communities. The Chinese want us, and the Indians and the Scandinavians; the Lebanese, even the Middle East.
The set ofÂ challenges facingÂ President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua are therefore peculiar, and different to a significant extent from those that had faced his predecessor, President Obasanjo, who had spent a great amount of time junketing around the globe looking for favours.
Yarâ€™Adua is a lucky man. Never in her post independent history has Nigeria been so much wooed, both overtly and covertly, by external forces with an eye not as much on her oil money or her natural resources as on the 140 million strong market, her greatest asset. Whether or not we will make the best of this will depend on the will to bring to the fore our negotiating skills.
This is a moment in our economic history that will define the Yarâ€™Adua presidency more than any other time during his tenure(s). He will either, along with his team, manoeuvre things for a rearrange in our favour, or compromise and/or sell out as others before him.
Which is it going to be?