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I don’t have a problem becoming a Chinese

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Sir: Gone are those days when folks were happy to come from the country we refer to as giant of Africa. Recently, the report of alleged lethal clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China, which allegedly “wills the sovereignty of Nigeria” in the $400 million loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, was signed in 2018. Is the country call Nigeria really a sovereign nation? 

I know some learned persons in the society may want to question my educational qualification or ask about my knowledge about the country. Around the time that Nigeria discovered oil and the boom in the early 1970s, Saudi Arabia took a position and increased the price of oil from about $3 to over $20 per barrel. Kuwait used the windfall to establish refineries in many countries. They started refining and selling their crude outside their territory but Nigeria did not know what to do with their own money.

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By the time former President Goodluck Jonathan was leaving office, Nigeria was one of the four fastest growing economies in the world but as soon as the new regime came, the economy crashed. This came because of trading blames, making scary statements that made the international community to lose faith in the economy of Nigeria. It took the China less than 70 years to emerge from isolation and become one of the world’s greatest economic powers.

When the Communist Party came into control of China it was very, very poor. There were no trading partners, no diplomatic relationships, they were relying on self-sufficiency.” Over the past 40 years, China has introduced a series of landmark market reforms to open up trade routes and investment flows, ultimately pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. The 1950s had seen one of the biggest human disasters of the 20th Century. The Great Leap Forward was Mao Zedong’s attempt to rapidly industrialise China’s peasant economy but it failed and 10-40 million people died between 1959-1961 – the most costly famine in human history. This was followed by the economic disruption of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, a campaign which Mao launched to rid the Communist Party of his rivals but which ended up destroying much of the country’s social fabric.

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Yet after Mao’s death in 1976, reforms spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping began to reshape the economy. Peasants were granted rights to farm their own plots, improving living standards and easing food shortages. The door was opened to foreign investment as the U.S. and China re-established diplomatic ties in 1979. Eager to take advantage of cheap labour and low rent costs, money poured in. From the end of the 1970s onwards we’ve seen what is easily the most impressive economic miracle of any economy in history.

But Nigeria, 60 years later, we grow in size and number, our population increased from 45.14 million in 1960 to over 200 million in 2020 and over 90 million citizens were dumped into abject poverty within five years. With current unemployment rate rising to 21 million and unstable political leadership, this shouldn’t have been Nigeria. We leave human growth behind, loot our resources like rats looting cassava and a common bird is mocking us. I read a report that claimed the Buhari government is constructing a 27.3-kilometre perimeter fence for University of Maiduguri at the cost of N64 billion. That’s about N2 billion per kilometer. We have suffered more than enough and it won’t be out of place for the Chinese government to manage Nigeria.

Eniola Daniel wrote from Lagos.

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