By Sunny Ikhioya
AFTER giving the order to strike Iran, President Donald Trump of the United States of America, withdrew his order at the last minute, because, according to him, too many human lives will be lost in the process. He, therefore, opted for further trade sanctions which, he hopes, will bring the economy of Iran on its knees and, therefore, force them to the negotiating table.
That is the situation right now in the growing feud between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, whether the result will pan out as envisaged is yet to be seen.
That is the trend throughout the world: global wars both in trade and cybernetics, big powers engaged in opposition to themselves and on the other hand, poised against weaker countries. The South American country of Venezuela has been brought almost to its knees because of the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies against the government of President Maduro.
Although, the government is holding fast and resilient, the sanctions are really taking their toll on the citizens of Venezuela and people are leaving the country in droves. The big economies are now virtually matched in sanctions: the US and its allies against the Russian republic, the US versus China and so on and so forth.
Nigeria readily comes to mind as one takes note of the attacks and counter-attacks between China and the United States, the resilience of both countries, compared to the situation in Venezuela that has totally collapsed the economy.
If Nigeria is to be faced with sanctions by other countries like the US, China and the European Union, how are we going to cope? Are the people we have in government thinking about this? Will Nigeria survive trade sanctions imposed by the US and EU over dispute in trade or other matters? Ordinarily, with all of the resources available in Nigeria, both in human capital and natural resources, the answer would have been a definite yes. But can we say yes, given the situation we have found ourselves today?
If we cannot say yes, what then is responsible for the negative answer? What is it that has made Nigeria to fail so badly in the midst of abundant resources? Waste, poor management of resources, apathy, illiteracy, all amplified by deep-rooted ethnic and religious sentiments. So, we swim in poverty in the midst of so much waste; in gas flaring all over the place, in pipeline leakages, crude oil theft and agric produces without accessible roads to bring them to towns, a situation made worse by poor storage facilities and lack of processing facilities.
As a result, we are faced with a manpower that is so focused on trading abroad. Even without sanctions, Nigerians are already leaving in numbers to other countries. What will happen if we are then faced with sanctions? How will the scenario look like for Nigeria? Are we going to be like Venezuela or will the situation be worse? A country that cannot feed itself cannot be said to be sovereign; a country that cannot generate its electricity to power manufacturing and processing cannot be said to be independent; a country that cannot guarantee security for its citizens is not independent, and a country that allows free-flow of illegal immigrants to cause mayhem amongst its population is a docile country.
Therefore, if such a country is faced with trade or cyber attacks from bigger nations, the result will be catastrophic. It is not rocket science, it is what everyone should know, right from the beginning. If government officials are serious, they should be worried about the situation that we have found ourselves. As every sector of the economy appears to be hopeless, what do we do? What are the things we should do that will make us truly independent? What are the things that we can produce for ourselves over here and what are the things we must, of necessity, import from abroad?
We must begin to consider our priorities. Again, what are the things that we can do without if faced with a worst case scenerio? These ones must be identified. The next stage is to identify what it will take to produce enough of what we have, so we do not have to import them from abroad.
This is very important because sometimes we introduce policies without looking at the implications for the people and country. If items are necessary in the country, we do not have to impose a blanket ban on such items; all that is required is to put in place effective machinery to get such items produced locally, especially raw materials, spare parts and others.
It requires effective planning, not just propaganda. So, our focus must be in the areas of research and development. A country that is not spending enough or spending a significant part of its budget on research and development has no future. We must seriously encourage the Aba, Nnewi and other Nigerian made products with full government support.
Why is it that countries in the desert are becoming self-sufficient in food production and over here, we are not making progress? Our researchers must find out why and give us solutions; when they do, government must reciprocate by giving them full support. And, there must be enough sensitisation; the citizens must be made to understand clearly why they must patronise home-made products. The people in government must lead the way by setting worthy examples; you cannot be mouthing the use of locally manufactured goods and be seen to be using foreign made.
We also do not have accurate data base to hinge our planning on. The world is going electric; we are investing heavily on petroleum and search for new oil wells. We should be looking ahead. Above all, government must possess the necessary political will to enforce its programmes and policies.
The governor of the Central Bank has just announced the prohibition of some items on our import list to promote local manufacturing. But you will still find these banned items displayed conspicuously in our markets; how will the policy be effective? There must be no sacred cow, the consequences of not getting ready for tomorrow is very disastrous; government must begin now. Self- sufficiency is the only sure way to earn global respect.