January 10, 2021

Let’s adopt Chinese model to tackle poverty— Sagagi, expert in global economics

Let’s adopt Chinese model to tackle poverty— Sagagi, expert in global economics

Professor Murtala Sagagi

Professor Murtala Sagagi

*Says AfCFTA needs Biden’s support to succeed

By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor

Professor Murtala  Sagagi is a lecturer at Dangote Business School, Bayero University, Kano. In this interview, the expert on global economics compares Nigeria’s relationship with the US and China under President Donald Trump, saying the country should copy the Chinese economic model to rescue millions out of poverty.

Since it is considered impossible for a country to live without the support of the United States, how would you describe Nigeria’s economic relations with the US under President Trump?

Everyone believes that Trump is a leader who has come up with his own style of governance. He believes the United States can do without any other country. This led to a crackdown on China and other European countries.

He thinks that in the past the US leaders gave a lot of money to other countries, especially in terms of jobs. He thinks the jobs should be done by Americans. He also believes there are some agreements that the United States has entered into with the European Union which he believes have contributed to the slowdown of the US economy.

Therefore, he came up with the America First idea. Any country that wants to deal with the United States should sit down with President Trump and come to an agreement.

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Prosper Africa

That was why he withdrew from some of the agreements that have been made between the United States and the rest of the world. This also applies to many African countries. He thinks those who voted for him are the whites who are the ones he wants to please. Trump believes they are the ones who have money, agriculture, and industry among others.

The economies of most countries from 2016 to 2017 show that oil imports are very low because many countries have reduced their oil purchases. President Trump does not mean that he does not like or dislike African countries because he has introduced a system called Prosper Africa in the light of China’s domination of the African continent.

The United States, under President Trump, came up with this plan to invest and double what it does for African countries, but because President Trump’s focus is not on African countries, his Prosper Africa programme is not being developed. You can say that here in Nigeria, President Trump has not done anything useful.

I can say that we have not benefited or benefited from President Trump’s administration. All his statements on Africa are either not good or insulting to Africa. Surprisingly, there is no single benefit for African countries. But a survey has shown that Nigerians like President Trump.

You mean Nigeria is not benefiting from his administration?

Absolutely! Research shows that Nigerians love Donald Trump even though you have nothing to show for it in terms of economic benefit for Nigeria. But there are reasons for doing so.

There are some agreements the United States signed with some non-governmental organisations that were withdrawn during President Trump’s administration. How do you see the impact on African economy?

The United States used to give African countries about six or seven billion dollars to support the African economy, but President Trump wants to reduce it. The US Congress puts such money in the US budget. I can tell you that aid to African countries has not faced any problems during all these years of President Trump’s presidency.

Now that the election has taken place and outgoing President Trump will hand over power to Biden, what should be expected?

I think things will change. For example, in the last few months, Nigeria has been included in the reduction of visa ban, which will allow you to live in the United States, along with many other African countries. I think he can repeal this law because the law does not please other Americans. President Trump does not agree with the multilateral agreement. He prefers the agreement between two countries.

Why does it appear as if African economies are dependent on big global economies like the US?

Africa does not have a strong economy. $ four trillion is the economic strength of all the 53 African countries while China has $13 trillion which is three times that of Africa. The US has 20 trillion. We are talking about a total of four trillion for African countries.

If four trillion is divided into 53 trillion, how much would each country get as its economic strength? We, Africa, don’t have the capacity to participate in President Trump’s economic plans. President-elect Biden is expected to support the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA, signed by President Buhari. It is an initiative by African countries to invest and enable people to participate in trade and economic development.

The plan is expected to have the support of President Biden, whose system may be similar to that of former US President Bill Clinton’s African Growth Opportunity Act, AGOA, a programme that has helped some African countries such as Kenya. The second thing is that he wants to work with Africans such as Adewale who was appointed as Deputy Treasury Secretary.

President Biden interacts with people of all backgrounds and religions. Trump has no experience in work and world politics. Trump is strong in business. I have read his books on business. Biden has worked in many countries, making it impossible for Biden to visit a country without a friend. He understands the global economy. I think that is why Americans elected him.


If African countries see trade with China as the best option for them, they will follow suit. When it comes to science and technology the US is ahead of China.

But some reports claimed that the Chinese have the largest capacity in science and technology…

Capacity does not matter here. China has launched a programme on where it wants to be in the next 30 years. They want to destroy the United States in this regard. I am talking about computers, military affairs and trips to the moon. The United States is still ahead.

But there is no country after the United States except China. China did something 25 years ago when I went to study in the United States. In some of the most expensive high schools in the United States, only the rich go to the same schools. But before you see one American you will see two Chinese. Where Americans go to learn the latest technology and science, the Chinese also go there.

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The Chinese graduate and return to their homeland, unlike Nigerians. About two years ago, the United States issued 20,000 green cards. Surprisingly, 14,000 were Nigerians. Only 6,000 were from other countries. That is why if you go to Washington State in the United States, half of the doctors are Nigerians.

There was a time Nigerian government wanted to start using the Yuan instead of the Dollar…

When the idea was proposed I knew it was not possible. I said the world economy is too strong to be controlled or changed in such a manner or direction in just one day. The United States has been occupying the global economy since the end of World War II.

Before World War II almost all the gold in the world was in Europe, but after the end of World War II, they returned to the United States.


How do you think European countries could have paid for the support given to them by the United States for weapons and military allowances? They didn’t pay in pounds sterling or any other money except gold. They took a large amount of gold to the US treasury.

Since the gold is now theirs, the United States, they replaced the measurement scale of the value of gold with their currency which is the American dollar. That is why the United States goes ahead and imposes sanctions on any country at any given time because wherever you are dealing with money in the world, your money must go into the United States financial system. They tried to keep the world economy afloat. Many countries tried to find a way to avoid the use of the dollar but it didn’t work.

You have talked so much about China, what should Nigeria learn from the country?

In China, 40 years ago, there were about 700 million people living in poverty who could not feed themselves. They could not eat twice a day.

China has lifted 900 million people out of hunger and poverty. But in Nigeria, many people fall into poverty yearly. Like this year we expect about two million people to return to poverty. According to the World Bank report, there are about three million people who will go into poverty this year. Anyone who tells you there is a plan to lift Nigerians out of poverty is lying.

There are no plans. I challenge whoever comes to debate it. I know there are three governors who have the full names of their unemployed people.

Nigeria has no money. Anyone who tells you that Nigeria is a rich country does not know what wealth is. Our budget is now N13 trillion. Government says it does not have N5 trillion but it will borrow. It is also a problem, we need people to come from all over the world and invest in the economy of this country.

If you ask me to invest, I will invest in agriculture, industry, education and health. Nigeria should embrace the Chinese model in tackling unemployment. In doing that, many people would be taken out of poverty.

How will the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea affect trade between Nigeria, China and the United States?

Our leaders need to start thinking about how to end this problem because the way things are, no serious investor would invest in a place that is not secure. Our strategy must change because you can’t repeat the same mistake and expect a positive result.

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