By: Tayo Oyekanmi.
Since the demise of the “state of nature”, scholars of different orientations and sensibilities have continue to reflect on the purpose of government in relation to man’s social existence. Irrespective of disagreement on perception, there’s consensus on the fundamental essence good living condition and that government exist primarily to provide for the promotion of social happiness for all.
Recently, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its latest quarterly reports said Nigeria’s unemployment rate has risen to 21,764,617 in the second quarter of 2020 representing about 27.1% of Nigeria population. The debilitating effect of COVID-19 is becoming glaring and alarming. It is under this reality that smuggling or better still economic sabotage is becoming more alluring for a good of populace thereby taking Nigeria back to Hobbesian Era where life was nasty, brutish, short and even the survival of the fittest.
Inspite of the endemic implications of smuggling to the Nigeria economy it is as if not much is being done by the Authority concern to stem the tide. About a year ago, the Federal Government placed embargo on petroleum products from going beyond 20km radius to the border areas to address the hydra headed issue of economic sabotage and security challenges. The embargo has not been lifted but it is still business as usual across the country. Even as the security agents manning the various routes has been become more of undertakers and throat cutters cum deal makers. The whole process has even become more liberalized to the detriment of Nigeria economy as a whole.
Rice and other poultry products are still entering the country even on a large scale. Some neighbours of the country feature prominently on among the top importer of rice and other produce even when they do not have the population to consume their imports. Sadly, Nigeria is the final destination if not the dumping ground. The negative impact of these unwholesome activities and economic sabotage cannot be overemphasized. Factories and companies are closing shops because of their inability to cope with the unfortunate and unfavorable economic situation, resulting in the loss of jobs. The textile industries particularly in the Northern part of the country that used to be a good employer of labour are not finding it funny any longer. They have all gone comatose. The Dangote Textile has long joined the closing down race. Just as many government interventions has not been able to resuscitate the sector. Nigeria has the market on the account of her huge population. Are we saying Nigerians are no longer wearing clothes or making use of textile materials again? Of course not. Legal importation constitute a little fraction of what is coming into the country. The biggest proliferation of the market is coming from smuggling through our various land borders. The mining sector is not exempted from the smuggling menace. Gold and other minerals are now being smuggled even through the legal route of ports and airports. This is definitely a disservice to Nigeria economy. No wonder illegal miners are on the rise. Cars are still being moved across the border without paying the necessary duties. Economic saboteurs are at work rendering whatever efforts the government is putting very irrelevant. The cartel and their network of syndicates are strong and have their eyes and ears even in our various governmental institutions. Forget about the various seizures and impounded items of those who fails to play ball or when negotiations break down with agents of the state. Those are just for the airwaves to raise the adrenaline of Nigerians. Huge scale of nefarious activities are taking place across the over 2000 border communities of 105 Local Government Areas and 21of 36 States in Nigeria sharing border with neighbouring Countries. All these continue to bridle down heavily and metaphorically on the neck of our economy. All these are happening even at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFcFTA) is yet to fully take effect aftermath of COVID-19 global pendemic which delayed the July 1st 2020 earlier effective date. Who knows what will be our lots when it eventually commences operations. How much of role will economic saboteurs play in it underbelly?
Government must rise to the occasion and fight aggressively economic sabotage. It’s a crime against humanity. Until then, Nigerians will continue to groan under the weight and yoke of unscrupulous elements who are all bent on extending the misery of Nigerians. Government must change the economic narratives of Nigeria from being a consuming Nation to a productive one. The locals who are trying to bring their ingenuity to bear on lifting the economy from the doldrums must be supported and protected against the rampaging economic syndicates. Smuggling is destroying creativity and innovative ideas of Nigerians because of the quick cash syndrome it offers. A lot of people of the border areas are beginning to think low of value of education because smuggling brings quick results. But at what expense? At the expense of future of Nigeria and Nigerians? Agriculture and local productions of major needs is the surest way to go. We will always get better with time. Government must come up with disingenuous ways of curbing smuggling. Anything short of this, will continue to be efforts in fultility of building or developing the Nigeria economy. Ripple effects of reducing smuggling will resonates positively on the other sectors. Smuggling cannot and should not be a way of life for a blessed country like Nigeria. Changing the fortune of economic narratives in the border area is the way to go. One of such case of Agricultural initiatives that’s berthing Agosasa, Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun by Cleveland Agro Allied Services should be replicated across border sharing 105 local government in Nigeria. It will help in discouraging the unwholesome activities going on in the border areas.
Managing the Nigeria economy for good results and optimum performance requires the patriotic appreciation of the fact that government exists for the social happiness of all and not a few economic saboteurs. This is what the management of Nigeria economy should seek to address.
– Tayo Oyekanmi is a trained Human Resources Manager, former Leader of Ipokia Legislative Council and a farmer.