By Omoh Gabriel
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has warned the Federal Government and other ECOWAS leaders against military action to resolve the political crisis in Cote d’ Ivoire, saying ECOWAS leaders have enough lessons to learn from the military intervention in Liberia. The chamber said the Nigerian economy at the moment had enough challenges.
A statement signed by the President of the chamber, Otunba Femi Deru, said: “The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has followed with keen interest political developments in Cote d’ Ivoire and the subsequent moves by the ECOWAS Heads of Government to resolve the crisis.
We welcome and commend the efforts and concern demonstrated by ECOWAS under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan to salvage and stabilise the situation in Cote d’ Ivoire. It is a mark of commitment to peace and the promotion of democratic ideals in the sub region. This is a noble cause no doubt.
“However, we would like to caution that the options for the resolution of the crisis should be carefully and dispassionately weighed and the implications properly evaluated. ECOWAS and Nigeria in particular, should resist the temptation of rushing to judgment or taking actions, the full implications of which has not been properly assessed.
“Nigeria as well as ECOWAS have enough lessons to learn from the military intervention in Liberia and Sierra Leone under the banner of ECOMOG. There are also current lessons to learn from military interventions in other parts of the world.
The cost and consequences of such interventions are often difficult to predict. For Nigeria, the cost-benefit analysis of each options in the Cote d’ Ivoire crisis should be painstakingly undertaken. We should not be in a hurry to justify our position as a regional power or be too eager to impress the international community.
“Nigeria spent billions of dollars to fund the military intervention (through ECOMOG) in Liberia. The opportunity cost to the Nigerian economy was colossal. We lost hundreds of troops. Two Nigeria journalists were killed. There was a major humanitarian and refugee crisis in Liberia, spilling over to neighbouring countries.The entire economic infrastructures were destroyed.
“In the light of this experience, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry advises strongly against a military action in Cote d’ Iviore by ECOWAS.”
Naturally, Nigeria will be expected to take leadership in the event of such an action- providing financial, material and human resources for the military offensive. We daresay that the Nigeria economy cannot afford such a sacrifice at this time.
The economy has enough challenges at the moment. We are dealing with serious infrastructure crisis which is constraining economic diversification and private sector competitiveness. The excessive dependence on crude oil poses a major risk of sustainability for the Nigerian economy. Domestic value addition is low, resulting in the weak capacity of the economy to create jobs.
“We are dealing with a high debt burden where a disproportionate part of the country’s resources is being used to service debt. We are dealing with increasing internal security challenges with inadequate funding for the police. Our excess crude account has been depleted.
We have a manufacturing sector which has stagnated, contributing less than 5% of our GDP, the unemployment problem in the country has assumed a crisis dimension. Poverty is prevalent in the country, with the incidence of poverty in some geopolitical zones in excess of 70%. We have the challenge of making a success of the current political transition programme.
“These are issues of overriding interest and concern to Nigerians which require substantial resource commitment to address. This is certainly not the time for Nigerian to be the champion of military action in any country. Military solution is not cheap.
We concede that it is good to be our brothers’ keeper. But this should be situated within the context of the strategic interests of the country and our priorities as a people. The Lagos Chamber o Commerce advises against any form of military action in Cote D’ Voire.
Rather, emphasis should be on diplomacy, dialogue, and economic and other sanctions. There should also be a neutral disposition by ECOWAS in the mediation process to earn the confidence of all parties in the crisis”.