THE FOX CHANGES HIS FUR, NOT HIS TRICKS
When we were oppressed under colonialism, our fathers knew it: they fought, and were able to secure political independence from the European oppressors. But today, some of our African leaders have taken the place of the white colonial Masters while others have become their agents.
My English friend once said, 'Lawrence, during the African colonial time, our people used to return to Europe with things they looted from Nigeria and used them to develop Europe, but today your fellow Nigerians are looting Nigeria and bringing their loot again to us in Europe'. At this stage I was dump-founded.
I am also worried that the Western governments are fooling the entire people of Nigeria by planting some of our leaders who will be making policies favourable to their own economy instead of Nigeria's economy. For instance, those who have made their career in the World Bank cannot deny not being part of the policy-making process that brought a number of developing countries' economies to their knees, de-industrialized, created large unemployment and poverty. The question now is what kind of policies do World Bank and IMF make for a country like Nigeria? In answering this question I will use two case scenarios but before then let us look at what led to the establishment of these institutions in the first place.
Preventing the developing countries from catching up first became an issue during the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. The theme of the conference was centered on the management of the post-war international economy. At that time there was anticipation that decolonization would occur. The North knew that the southern nationalist leaders were concerned with how to pursue economic independence. They knew that the economic independence of the South meant economic protectionism. The Western leaders were aware of the political consequences, such as high unemployment rates and the impact it could have on their own countries. Then, knowing that southern leaders would need money to carry out projects in their respective countries, the northern leaders created two multilateral organizations (the IMF and the World Bank or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)). The IMF (International Monetary Fund) was to supply states with money to help them overcome short-term balance of payment difficulties. But such money is only made available after the borrowing country has agreed to implement a structural adjustment programme (SAP), which usually includes the lifting of import barriers for goods from the North. The World Bank finances projects such as roads, schools and power plants, but the recipient nations have to agree to certain policy reforms too. In many nations, the structural adjustment programmes have exacerbated the level of poverty by creating a net outflow of wealth from these nations. These institutions burden the borrowers with conditions that are favourable to the North's economy. Their policies are designed to ensure that the poor countries remain locked up and never bridged the gap. That is the purpose of establishing these institutions.
Nigerians have to understand that the employees of the World Bank are answerable to the majority shareholders of the Bank, which are the governments of the former colonial powers. These institutions use their policies to under-develop countries like Nigeria when given the opportunity. Yet when a country does not want to take their loan, they wait for opportunity to give their ill advice. But the best opportunity for them to give advice is using developing countries' own people as their spy to do the dirty job. The agents will get their jobs back in the institute when they complete the assignment.
Since the military race among the world powers has reduced, they shifted to economic spying. The FSB, formerly KGB spies for Russia, the M16 spies for UK and the CIA spies for America. These people are all on Nigeria soil today doing one thing or the other and mostly attached to their embassies. They are however less dangerous than when a trusted citizen of Nigeria probably decides to work for them. The toga-and-dagger world of classical espionage has intriguing parallels for the modern security services. In other words the ancient world intelligence gathering and challenges of espionage are similar to those being used today by the owners of the World Bank and IMF. The truth is always bitter but after keeping quiet for some months, I have decided to let the President of Nigeria know this. I hope he will act swiftly.
Let us look at what happened to the economies of Mongolia (which used to be the greatest power on earth at a time) and that of Peru in South America. Both countries applied advices they received from both World Bank and IMF. Fifty years before the reforms of 1991, Mongolia successfully built a diversified industrial sector but by March 2000, the situation in Mongolia was dire. Years after the end of the Cold War, the country's previously considerable industrial sector had been eradicated. The country's imports exceeded the value of exports by a factor of two and interest rate was very high. Even bread production went down by 71%. In every other industrial sector, production was down by more than 90% in physical volume. The reason is the way in which Mongolia was integrated into the global economy. As Erik Reinert puts it 'As the dust settled around the remains of the Berlin Wall, Mongolia quickly rose to become the World Bank 'starstudent' of the former Second World'.
World Bank advice is like an onion, after the fuel subsidy removal, you peel another layer off, then another layer off, then another layer off, and so on. They do not have to give us these advices directly because their employee is heading the most powerful Ministry in the land. She needs to love Nigeria to be able to withstand their pressures. In other words, will she remain loyal to World Bank or to Nigerians? No matter how civilized the West may claim to be, we have to be extra careful when dealing with them.
I am advocating a poll tax on every political office holder in Nigeria especially those earning more than N24 million per annumThis tax revenue can be used for whatever purpose the Federal Government wishes to use it than removing common man's fuel subsidy.
Ekeh writes from Abuja.