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Economic sovereignty as pathway to sustainable development

FOR the purpose of clarity, economic sovereignty is not synonymous with isolation or closing an economy.

This is because advancement in technology has already bridged time and space, thus tearing down borders. Therefore, the world is now a global village. The reality of globalisation has grown into a tap root that no economy can be insulated from.

Notwithstanding the overwhelming positive contributions of globalisation to the world economy, it has also left in its trail, injurious foreign competition and suffocation of emerging economies. Some advanced economies like the US, now at the receiving end of the ugly side of globalisation, are mounting a fight back to reclaim their lost internal economic strength. Here comes the essence of economic sovereignty which is daily becoming a clarion call for regenerating economies raped by globalisation.

Economic sovereignty does not aim at ending globalisation because it really can’t. It is an inward looking strategy to foster self-reliance through policies and actions that make an economy internally self-regenerating. A self-reliant economy is built to be reasonably import-independent and possess inbuilt mechanisms that absorb external shocks. It is common knowledge that Nigeria’s import-dependent economy is so fragile that any hiccup from any part of the world or locally can easily destabilise it. Just like the human body, an economic system lacking in immunity is always susceptible to internal and external infections

Economic sovereignty can be a formidable strategy for leveraging an economy’s internal strength and factors of production to maximise wealth creation, generate productive employment and build a competitive economy. This means that almost all the economic dynamics that influence competition are internally contrived and not forced on the economy by external factors beyond its control. Shamefully, almost every force that drives Nigeria’s domestic economic competitiveness is foreign-determined. Starting from the fiscal economy, made up of production and trade, Nigeria cannot produce any machine or spare part needed for production. All trade facilitation machinery and equipment together with their spare parts are imported. Coming to the monetary economy, dollarisation has sent the Naira nearly into comatose. The availability or scarcity of the US dollar determines the strength of the Naira, thus making economic watchers to start doubting sovereignty of the local currency.

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Having tried in vain to be a strong sovereign economy since independence, opportunity beckons once more for Nigeria to set up the foundational structures for economic self-reliance, using the instrumentality of the 2021 – 2025 National Development Plan (NDP21-25) as launch pad. This strategic plan has been expertly formulated to unlock the potential in all sectors of the Nigerian economy. NDP21-25 is worthy of adoption by serious minded political parties as the underlying basis for their socioeconomic blueprint. Commendably, NDP21-25 recognises the primacy of population control and management as the first step towards building a poverty-free society. It advocates a population policy that strikes a balance between population growth and resource availability. However, I observe that in identifying the causes of Nigeria’s population explosion, negligible attention was paid to the massive influx of foreigners in the plan. Unregulated migration must be stemmed to also curb the security threat it brings.

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Another thing I found impressive about NDP21-25 is the honest assessment of Nigeria’s decadent socioeconomic reality. The prevalent poverty, high unemployment rate, high inflation rate, import dependence, corruption, overpopulation, technology gap, infrastructure deficit, and above all, incompetent governance, were humbly cited as the main causes of under-performance of the economy. Incidentally, these malaise have always been with us in spite of several past grandiose plans to address them. Considering the grandeur of this audacious plan, should there be any worry that this exercise may suffer the same fate as its predecessors? Of course there is.

The plan itself recognises the fact that without appropriate legislation to institutionalise it, the incoming administration may at best implement it haphazardly, as past experience shows. Beyond this, however, I am worried about the expansive coverage of the plan which overstretched it.

There may be inadequate focus and needless dissipation of energy. Perhaps the public needs to see the granular action plan with time lines together with a list of projects assigned separately to the public and private sectors before jumping into premature conclusions.

Going further, another question boggling one’s mind is whether NDP21-25 has sufficient ingredients to produce a strong sovereign economy. I can gladly say that they are there. Starting from the skilled labour development strategy, land use strategy to capital formation strategy, the need for implementation with local resources is stressed. A step in translating these strategies into desired outcomes requires that the campaign for “Buy Made in Nigeria Goods” should begin with the manufacture of “Made in Nigeria Machines and Spare Parts” for production of “Made in Nigeria Goods”.

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If the primary goal is economic sovereignty, the colossal sum of N348.1 trillion projected for financing NDP21-25 might indeed be an overestimation.

This is because the first investments, when channelled to training local technical manpower, and mining of ferrous and nonferrous metals, will feed the locally-built metallurgical industry that will in turn supply raw materials for tools fabrication and machine making.

As a result, Nigeria’s internal technological capabilities would have been created and galvanised to sustain production and infrastructure development with virtually 100 percent local content.

Therefore, capital importation will be minimised and NDP21-25 can be leveraged on the abundant local natural resources to build a resilient, sustainable, domesticated and competitive economy.

If this strategic plan, like its predecessors, is implemented mainly with foreign capital goods and finance, the outcome will not be different from the past. Also, if the purpose of mining and drilling of Nigeria’s minerals is principally for export and not to develop end-to-end economic value chains locally, the rare opportunity presented by NDP21-25 may be lost to the abyss of history.

Adonri, Vice Chairman, Highcap Securities, wrote from Lagos 

Source: vanguard news

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