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How COVID-19 is blessing for Nigeria, others, by Akinyemi

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Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi

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Former Minister of External Affairs and Director General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a blessing to Nigeria as well as other medium and low income countries.

Contrary to beliefs that the pandemic has disrupted the universe, Akinyemi said it did not abolish the world structure but restructured it by narrowing gaps within structures in certain aspects.

According to him, the pandemic is a blessing to Nigeria because it has extensively checked financial recklessness of politicians through travel allowance, medical tourism, parties and other unfruitful ventures.

Akinyemi, who appealed to government to invest massively in research and development, made the comment at the weekend as a guest lecturer at Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) 11th convocation titled “New World Order: a post COVID-19 world.”

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The former minister, who explained that the pandemic has collapsed the gaps between super powers and lower powers in some areas, urged poor nations to take advantage of the global situation to redefine their position in the world map.

“For example, the lack of drugs to address the issue meant that there was no difference between super power and a failed state in not being able to cope with the pandemic. The insufficiency in all cases of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and total lack of the same in some cases, obliterated the world structure as we know it.”

According to Akinyemi, some countries have stepped up from an “internationalist mode to a nationalist and monopoly mode.” He noted that countries like United States (US), Britain, Russia, Germany and China curtailed air travels, exports of essential medical supplies and other essential products.

On how to square up with the developed nations, Akinyemi said: “Medium income countries could change the structure of the paradigm here in the sense that they could and should become active participants in the industrial process.

“It provides opportunity for the medium and low income countries to become industrial countries by concentrating on production of import-substituted goods, and export value-added goods.”

The former minister bemoaned the negative effects of COVID-19 on democracy, saying the various lockdown measures by government led to huge loss of human rights. He said governments might make vaccination compulsory for travels and access to other social benefits.

On brain drain and search for greener pastures abroad, the guest lecturer said: “Don’t discourage your children, your lecturers from going abroad. They will acquire skills and knowledge, and they all come back to develop Nigeria,” Akinyemi said.

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