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Opinion

The Oracle: How China is Re-Colonising Nigeria (Pt. 1)

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and one of the largest in the entire world (214.4 million people as at 18th February, 2022). Nigeria has about 374 ethnic groups (Onigu Otite) amongst its population, with over 500 languages and roughly 65% younger than 25 years. The Nigerian government runs on a democratic presidential system modeled after the American system. One of the oldest locations that showed signs of human existence with evidence dating back as far as 9000 BC, Nigeria has the potential to become one of the strongest economies in the world. Some have even tipped Nigeria to top the charts by the year 2050.

The economy has since become the largest in Africa. However and most unfortunately, Nigeria is highly dependent on revenue from a-mono-product from oil and gas, being one of the largest producers of crude oil globally. Changes have now been proposed to help diversify the economy with other industries showing significant growth opportunities being consumer goods and retail, real estate, agriculture and infrastructure.

INCENTIVES TO INVESTORS

The Nigerian government has also introduced a number of incentives to attract foreign investors. These include a favorable company income tax, Pioneer Status Grants, Free Trade Zones and tax relief for research and development. Investors can also repatriate 100% of profits and dividends, while full ownership of companies is granted in all sectors apart from oil and gas.

CHALLENGES OF DOING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA

Outside these advantages, the potential challenges of doing business in Nigeria include wide-spread corruption, cyber threat and political risk with violence, terrorism, armed banditry and ransom-oriented kidnappings. Furthermore, analysts and risk-managers cite difficult macroeconomic conditions and market volatility as other obstacles to be aware of when considering to business in this part of Africa. For these reasons, Nigeria appeared better suited to experience and establish export missions, rather than early-stage start-up companies.

THE SINO-NIGERIAN PACTS

In the light of the foregoing, Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China established formal diplomatic relations on February 10, 1971. Relations between the two nations grew closer as a result of the international isolation and Western condemnation of Nigeria’s military dictatorships (1970s-1998). Nigeria has since become an important source of oil and petroleum for China’s rapidly growing economy, while Nigeria looks up to China for help in achieving high economic growth China has since provided extensive economic, military and political support to her. Bilateral trade reached US$3 billion in 2006 – up from $384 million in 1998. During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit in 2006, China secured four oil drilling licences and agreed to invest $4 billion in oil and infrastructure development projects in Nigeria. Both nations agreed to a four-point plan to improve bilateral relations – a key component of which was to expand trade and investments in agriculture, telecommunications, energy and infrastructure development. Furthermore, China agreed to buy a controlling stake in the Kaduna oil refinery that would produce 110,000 barrels per day (17,000 m3/d). Nigeria also promised to give preference to Chinese oil firms for contracts for oil exploration in the Niger Delta and Chad Basin. In 2006, China also agreed to grant a loan of $1 billion to Nigeria to help it upgrade and modernize its railway networks. In 2005 Nigeria agreed to supply PetroChina with 30,000 barrels per day (4,800 m3/d) of oil for $800 million. In 2006 the CNOOC purchased a share for $2.3 billion in an oil exploration block owned by a former defence minister. China has also pledged to invest $267 million to build the Lekki free trade zone near Lagos.

CHEAP CHINA, CHEAP ARTICLES

Chief Dana Chen, Chairman China-Africa Business Council (CABC); early 2021, promised to increase the volume of trade between China and Africa from $30 billion to $300 billion. However, the “flooding” of Nigerian markets with cheap Chinese goods has become a sensitive political issue, as – combined with the importation of second-hand European products – it has adversely affected domestic industries, especially in textiles. This has led to closure of 65 textile mills and the laying-off of 150,000 textile workers across the country over the course of a decade. Nigerian militants had also threatened to attack Chinese workers and projects in the Niger Delta. In 2010, trade between the two countries was worth US$7.8 billion. In 2011, Nigeria was the 4th largest trading partner of China in Africa and in the first 8 months of 2012, it was the 3rd. Today, Nigeria with over $26 billion is the second largest trading partner to China, next only to South Africa with about $54 billion.

In April 2018, Nigeria signed a $2.4-billion currency swap deal valid for 3 year. In 2019, bilateral trades between China and Nigeria reached $19.27 billion. From 2000 to 2011, there are approximately 40 Chinese official development finance projects identified in Nigeria through various media reports. These projects range from a $2.5 billion loan for Nigerian rail, power, or telecommunications projects in 2008; to an MoU for $1 billion construction of houses and water supply in Abuja in 2009, and several rail networks.

Since 2000, trade relations have risen exponentially. There has been an increase in total trade of over 10,384 million dollars between the two nations from 2000 to 2016.

However, the structure of the Sino-Nigerian trade relationship has become a major political issue because Chinese exports accounted for around 80 percent of total bilateral trade volumes. This has resulted in a serious trade imbalance with Nigeria importing ten times more than it exports to China. Nigeria’s economy is becoming over-reliant on cheap foreign imports to sustain itself, resulting in a clear decline in Nigerian Industry under such arrangements. In September 2018, Nigeria yet again signed a $328 million loan with China to heavily boost the development of telecommunication infrastructures in Nigeria.

China has provided the financing for the following projects in Nigeria:

  • Abuja-Kaduna Railway; Abuja Metro Light Rail, Abuja and Port Harcourt Airport terminals;
  • Lekki Free Trade Zones, Ogun – Guangdong;
  • Zungeru Hydro Power Dam; and
  • University of Transportation, Daura.

In exchange, Nigeria often systematically hired a Chinese firm to oversee its development projects, such as the 3,050 MW Mambilla hydroelectric Power Station. China’s investment in Africa and by extension Nigeria, is phenomenal and has over time progressively transformed into Africa’s largest trading partner surpassing traditional partners such as Europe and the United States of America.

THE CATCH

Perhaps, not many developed countries of the world will be ready to play the big role that China is currently playing in Africa to develop infrastructural projects that will liberate the continent from the clutches of acute poverty due to a lack of basic infrastructures. Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa is a major beneficiary of some of these initiatives through ambitious infrastructural projects that are springing up across the country. But, this at a huge cost.

In Nigeria, it is estimated that over 70 per cent of imported products are fake and substandard. The high volume of counterfeit and sub-standard products in the domestic market is threat to Nigeria’s economy, raising serious doubts on current efforts by the Federal Government to resuscitate the real sector to contribute meaningfully to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2015, I went with my wife to China. We wanted to buy transformers and generators. The Chinese sellers asked us pointedly if we wanted the standard original, or the Nigerian downgraded version. We were shocked.

An estimated N15billion is believed to be lost annually to fake or counterfeit goods in terms of loss of tax revenue to the government, income to local manufacturers, and employment generation to Nigerians. In fact, it is a tragedy to report that in Nigeria, for every fast-selling genuine product circulating, counterfeiters would either pirate or produce something similar without regards for standards and specifications, especially to the health and safety of the populace.

There is virtually or hardly any product that is not either faked or its quality sub-standard when compared with the original. From the pharmaceutical to the textile; beverage, ceramics, electrical and electronics; book publishing; music and even Nigeria’s fast rising home video industry. The greatest fear nursed by genuine investors remains how best to recoup their investments and remain in business amid challenges of infrastructure and the untrammeled influx of fake counterfeit goods, counterfeiting and piracy in the country.

Counterfeiting destroys creativity, acts as a bane to the efforts of genuine manufacturers, discourages investments and entrepreneurship, as it renders their goods non-competitive. But more worrisome is the fact that sub-standard goods are inimical to the health and safety of citizens. Hundreds of Nigerians are reported to have died after consuming sub-standard drugs. The establishment of NAFDAC in 1993, was in fact government’s direct response to the high casualty rate recorded from the use of fake drugs.

There are many cases of collapsed buildings which are linked to the usage of sub-standard materials by builders. People die like chickens under such circumstances. In the road construction industry, billions of naira are invested in road construction only for them to collapse after few months of their commissioning due to use of substandard materials.

Modern infrastructure availability is one of the indicators of advancement of any society today. It is the blood that keeps any modern society and economy alive. This ranges from roads, bridges, airports, seaports, railways, power plants, dams, telecommunication facilities, etc. Indeed, the level, quality and standard of the infrastructure of a country is a core indicator of its rating in development or advancement.

One major area of the Chinese strategic relationship with Nigeria is the building of rail infrastructure as stated earlier, which is gradually positioning Nigeria as a modern economy with infrastructural underpinning. In this stead, in recent years, the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) has delivered four major railway projects after completion, all with a total stretch of 712km. However, critics who have travelled abroad believe that qualities of the projects are highly suspect.

Take note, sometime in December 2020, one of the latest of China’s many industrial investments in Nigeria, the railway line between Lagos and Ibadan, became operational. Running 156 kilometres long and costs about $1.5 billion US dollars. Its opening was accompanied by public fanfare in Nigeria and China, where it was seen as another double victory for Chinese-led development, and China’s public image in sub-Saharan Africa. (To be continued).

FUN TIMES

“As you dey wear leg chain try rub cream for the leg this dry season make your leg no resemble stock fish we dem use rubber band tie”.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“We cannot be mere consumers of good governance, we must be participants; we must be co-creators”. (Rohini Nilekani).

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Kayode Emola

What is happening to the Yoruba Nation Struggle? Is sovereignty still an attainable possibility? These questions and many more are on the lips of enthusiastic Yoruba begging for answers whilst awaiting the birth of their new nation. Rightly so, given that many of us in the trenches promised that there would be no 2023 election in Nigeria, as we would have already left the country. Alas, it is less than a month before the 2023 general election is scheduled; only a miracle will be able to thwart the election now.

How did we get it wrong? Why haven’t we got out of Nigeria by now? I don’t think this is the appropriate time to start apportioning blame. However, I do believe that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, then we are bound to repeat them again and again. We must be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, those hell-bent on causing schisms amongst the advocates of independence are not only impairing their work, they risk jeopardising the entire struggle if care is not taken.

The solution to the Yoruba question is hiding in plain sight, yet it is so simple that only a few can decipher it or see how to implement it. Rather than focusing on the practical steps to get us out of Nigeria, some people are now being cajoled by meaningless slogans. Consider the claims of the Ominira Yoruba 2022 team, that if 5 million people signed a petition in support of independence, Yoruba would be able to exit Nigeria and nothing could stop it. The petition surpassed its five million target and yet nothing happened.

So Ominira Yoruba 2022 announced that they would make a declaration of independence and this would be the catalyst that would bring us our own nation. Yet no plan was put in place on how this was to be implemented aside from flippant announcements on Facebook and other social media outlets. When this failed to materialise Yoruba Nation, they then came out with Reclamation, and following its fruitlessness, then Occupation. The truth is that, no matter how catchy a slogan we produce, if we don’t have a concrete plan on how to get Yoruba out of Nigeria, we will continue on this trajectory of big grammar inside empty cannon.

The first step in achieving anything in life is to ask if anybody in the world has done the same thing already. If so, you can learn from them and apply their methods to your situation. If there are none, then by all means go ahead and invent the wheel, do some trial and error and work out a strategy to get you to the finish line. However, in this situation, there are many countries whose precedents we can learn from, including Norway/Sweden, South Sudan/Sudan, Czechoslovakia and finally, former Yugoslavia etc.

Whilst some of these countries exited peacefully, some had extremely violent departures. However, the key element was that they were determined to exercise their right to self-determination. The unifying feature that they all shared was that they all declared their independence from the larger, and dared to face the consequences. For some countries like South Sudan leaving Sudan it led to a long and bitter civil war; in contrast, when Norway left Sweden, the latter accepted the declaration of the former and they parted peacefully.

If the only option that allows for every indigenous nationality to exit Nigeria is through the declaration of independence, then the simplest and most logical route would have been to bring everyone together in consultation. In this scenario, any declaration of independence by one indigenous nation in Nigeria could be followed immediately by simultaneous declaration from other regions. This would dissuade the Nigerian government from attempting to take a stand against these nations or starting a war that they could not possibly sustain.

In light of this, what should we now do? We need to organise ourselves into formations, working towards the greater good. Those in the diplomatic circles need to intensify their diplomatic outreach to those countries around the world that will be sympathetic to indigenes’ independence. Whilst those in humanitarian circles need to embark on massive campaigns with humanitarian agencies, explaining the reasons why Nigeria must be dissolved

If we all come together with this resolve, then Nigeria would have no option but to let us go because we would have the support of our people and the international communities. Undoubtedly, we will not achieve unanimous acceptance from every country, or even across own our people; but those who do believe in the cause must press on until victory is achieved.

Therefore, my advice to those still being deceived by slogans and jamboree is this: open your eyes and see that, unless we do the work, no amount of camouflage or deceit can bring us out. We need to be ready to be open-minded, to put in the effort required to achieve success. Yoruba nation *will* come, but not by lies of ¬_”a tí gbá”_ (“we have collected it”) or “God has done it”.

Even if God has said Yes, if we fail to put in the necessary work, we will remain on this mountain for a very long time. The year of 2023 still has a long way to go: we can work towards something meaningful, or we can continue to deceive ourselves that Yoruba nation will be served to us on a platter of gold with no effort on our own part. A word is enough for the wise.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Power of Imagination

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Success and failure start from the mind. The human mind is like a rubber, the more you stretch it, the more it expands. The human mind is the brain, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. We all have the power to change the course of our life without allowing us to be victims. This is because the greatest power God gave us at creation is freedom and choice. Just like you have the power to think positive thoughts, you also have the power to think negative thoughts. It should be noted that whatever you focus on expands.

It’s quite unfortunate that many of us don’t know how we can use our mind to attract opportunities, if properly stretched. For the human mind to work at optimal capacity, it must be capable of using the power of imagination. According to Napoleon Hill, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it. The right question we should ask ourselves is if we are using the power of our imagination.

Imagination takes several forms. The human mind can be artistic in nature, it can be creative, and it can also be challenging. The mind will only work on how you program it. If you program your mind to think like a leader, it will be activated, if you program the mind to overcome challenges it will be activated, if you program the mind to either think positive or negative thoughts, it produces the desired fruits for you.

You may be wondering where the power of imagination comes from? The power of imagination starts from the mind. To understand how the mind works, you have to look at the brain. The neocortex and thalamus are responsible for controlling the brain’s imagination, along with many of the brain’s other functions such as consciousness and abstract thought.

One may ask, is imagination the same thing as intelligence?  One can imagine something, but don’t take proactive steps to implement it, but the man who takes actionable steps can be regarded as an intelligent man because he got the inspiration and knows what to do. According to Albert Einstein, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. This is a fact because the true intelligence level of an individual is not dependent on the facts a person knows but on how he applies them creatively to solve problems in the world.  Albert Einstein further stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The power of imagination cannot be overemphasized. One of the distinguishing traits between wealthy men and the poor men is their mindset. A big difference between a rich mind and poor mind lies in how they process information. While rich and wealthy minds have a positive and growth mindset, poor men have a negative and fixed mindset. While the growth mindset sees problems as opportunities to make impact by solving them, fixed minds see problems as obstacles to making impact. While rich and wealthy minds spend money to invest, poor minds spend money to impress. While rich and wealthy people spend after saving, poverty-stricken minds save from the remnant of their expenses.

This power of imagination works in different ways. Sometimes, it comes like a vision, a revelation. inspiration or even feelings. This imagination can be something you would like to change, or a cause you would like to work on. When you get this prompting, the best thing you can do is commit it to prayer and believe in it especially if it’s a revelation or vision you have been shown. It might look so big and impossible to attain. Whenever you feel this way, just know that you must activate your growth mindset.

Wealth creation starts from the mind. If you want to be successful in any craft, you must envision it in your mind. Most of the great people if not all the great people we celebrate in the world utilized the power of imagination to create a product. If you want to be rich or start a business, you need to take the bold step, if not, you’ll remain where you are.

Nobody can stop a person whose time has come. Nobody can stop you; you are the only one who can stop yourself if you doubt yourself or tell your dreams, vision, or ideas to the wrong person. The wrong person in this case can be your parents, friends, mentors or even your spiritual leader. Don’t get me wrong, these people may not be bad people, they may not understand the calling or vision you had. They may not even see you as the person capable of doing it because you don’t look it. They may be speaking from their experience which may not be your reality. Let me tell you, if God wants somebody else to get the revelation or inspiration, he will put the imagination in their mind. Just to encourage you, God does not call the qualified, he calls the unqualified and then qualifies you.

In conclusion, the power of imagination is a very powerful and creative tool a progressive mind can use to excel in life if properly activated. This is because nobody knows you more than you know yourself.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Be Empowered to Remain in Power

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“When you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to “MANifest”! Chase excellence, and success would chase you pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

 Commitment has been described as dedication, steadfastness, allegiance, faithfulness or loyalty to a course, and individual, group or a supreme being. It is about giving one’s self to a course with success as the only option. Commitment binds you irrevocably to a course you believe in until success comes. It is not the same as mere involvement, but dedication to seeing a course(s) completed or fulfilled to cause an effect or impact either within one’s self, others, corporates and the world at large.

The world is filled with peoples. Anybody can be involved. Being involved in an activity that involves other people does not make you part of a team. As a matter of fact, it only takes a number of people involved in working together to have a group. You must understand that a group is absolutely not a “team”. The difference? In a group, people are involved in activity(s). In a Team, people are committed to a process and a goal. The difference between commitment and involvement is known by the difference in the “omelette and “corned beef”. In the making of omelets, the chicken is involved, in the corned beef, the cow is committed!

Commitment is the secret to the success of the postage stamp. To get the letter to its destination, it must first commit to the envelope. After that, the rest is a matter of time. A train gets to its destination because of its commitment to the rails.

Commitment operates in five major levels which would be expatiated below:

  1. Commitment to God (The Creator that gives to all that gives and receives)
  2. Commitment to a Course for a Cause

iii.              Commitment to Process

  1. Commitment to People
  2. Commitment to yourself

Commitment to God

Those who have discovered themselves in God have no problem committing to Him. Those who sideline God in success ventures will find out soon enough that it is the pathway to “frustration” and an insignificant “death”.

Commitment to a Course for a Cause

You must always remember that, you were never created to simply pursue wealth and all trappings of the worldly successes. After all your bills are paid, and you have a spill-over, what next? Highly successful and effective people, first of all, find a higher course for a greater cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives if need be, then throw themselves wholly into it. The principle is that, if death does not scare you, the possibility of failure cannot! As the Bible rightly said, “those who keep their lives lose it, while those who lose it, find it!” The other name for it is significance or relevance. Make money in order to enhance your platform(s) for significance or irrefutable relevance. At a recent time, Bill Gate has committed time and resources to finding solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication in Third World countries. What he did caught the attention of Warren Buffet (who wasn’t reputable for charity), the World’s Second richest man at that time. This made him donate the sum of $37billion (US Dollars) to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When asked why, he answered, “Because they know how best to give it away better and faster than I can.”

Commitment to a Process

Everything in life evolves. The only tree that grew to full stature in one day died the same day! Ask Prophet Jonah in the Bible. If you cannot commit to a process, you will forfeit the promise.

To master your skill in life, there is always a process of apprenticeship. Permit yourself to fail…but don’t remain a failure. The Olympic medalist who won the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds was only celebrated for what he had invested years of consistency and hours of practice to.

Tiger Woods had played golf as a child and he had always nurtured a vision to win every championship in golf. So he started to work towards that, easily.

The father (being a good Lawn Tennis Player) of Serena and Venus Williams (The World Lawn Tennis Champions) had coached them to always win since they were very young.

What the world celebrate today in these people is actually the process they had committed too long before they started winning laurels.

Commit to Yourself

Budget for self-development. Your greatest investment is the one you make on your personal development. When you are right, everything around you will be right!

Things don’t happen because you chase them to happen, rather they happen become you have become a center of attraction that commands the necessary attention. For instance, when you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to MANifest! Chase excellence and success would chase you, pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”

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