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How pandemic holds new economic opportunities for Nigeria, Third World


It’s zero levels for all countries, says Akinyemi
•Former external affairs minister urges import substitution post-COVID-19

Nigeria and the rest of Africa will have to pursue more nationalistic policies as they reboot their financial bases to bring back their respective economies to gradual boost post-COVID-19.

With the Coronavirus as a leveler of sorts that has economically weakened world’s superpowers, developing countries, including Nigeria, now have an opportunity to compete without necessarily having to begin from zero level as was previously the case.


Professor of Political Science and former Minister of External Affairs, Bolaji Akinyemi, who stated this in a telephone chat with The Guardian yesterday, stated that nationalistic measures by African countries were, in the past, met with criticisms.

“So, this is an opportunity for third-world countries to pile up palliative funds for critical sectors; Nigeria should go back to the textile and industry-based economy,” he said.

At the heart of the nationalistic approaches to be evolved, he said, has been import substitution, wherein African countries must de-emphasise imports and begin to add value to their exports.

Akinyemi, who advised that Nigeria should stop exporting cocoa and start exporting derivatives like chocolate, revealed a deep concern over the country’s propensity for felling trees and exporting timber to China, whereas the country imports toothpicks from China and furniture from Italy.


He expressed the hope of gradual economic rebound after the pandemic, saying, “once industries start operating again, people will start importing oil and the market will again receive a gradual boost.”

On International Monetary Fund (IMF’s) COVID-19 emergency loan for Nigeria and other facilities approved for the Presidency by the legislative arm of government, the former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, urged a more prudent expenditure pattern.

“We should stop being illiterate in the way we spend that money,” he said, stressing that the economy remained consumption-based, even as Nigeria’s parliamentarians were still the highest paid in Africa.

He advised the country to aggressively build up its Sovereign Wealth Fund {SWF) and allocate the highest percentage of government’s expenditure to industrialization, health services and functional education system.

According to him, the intervention from IMF is acceptable but the Federal Government must be very intentional and pay attention to what the $3.4b would be spent on.


“I have seen Ekiti State and Federal Government slashing salaries of political office holders by 50 per cent. I haven’t seen National Assembly members slashing theirs; it should be a general thing, don’t spend recklessly,” he stated.

Akinyemi also canvassed revitalisation of the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) as a catalytic symbol of the country’s preparedness to return to industrial-based economy and to compete with its peers.

DICON was founded in 1964, about the same year its Brazilian counterparts (Embraer and Avibras and Engesa) were created, but the Brazilian enterprises currently make military and civilian aircraft.

Notwithstanding, DICON successfully manufactures arms, military hardware and, potentially, ventilators in its most recent response to COVID-19 challenges. This leap, according to Akinyemi, could be improved with far-reaching impact on the general industrial economy.

He opined that “for the country of 200 million people (Nigeria), there should be enough factories in the mould of Anambra State-based Innoson Vehicle Company Limited (IVM) to stem unwarranted imports of foreign brands.


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