New World Order, BRICS and Nigeria
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
It is pedestrian information that the BRICS economic bloc, one of the leading global voices for more representation of the developing world and the Global South in world affairs, ended a historic three-day summit in South Africa where it addressed a large set of socioeconomic issues pertinent to the members of the group in the presence of interested foreign representatives and organizations as well as announced to the watching world that six countries are set to join the group in 2024: Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt and Ethiopia.
The summit was themed “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism”.
To better understand the piece, BRICS is an acronym that started as BRIC in 2001, coined by Jim O’Neill (a Goldman Sachs economist) for Brazil, China, India, and Russia. Later, in 2010, South Africa was added to become BRICS. Goldman Sachs claimed that the four BRIC economies will dominate the global economy by 2050. The main reason for such a claim was that China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa were ranked among the world’s fastest-growing and emerging market economies for years. The main comparative advantage of this group is their low labour costs, favourable demographics, and abundant natural resources during the global commodities boom.
Essentially, while Nigerians lament this deplorable inability of Nigeria to make the list, Vice President Kashim Shettima, contrary to expectation, reportedly stated that the country never applied for BRICS membership.
“So far, we have not applied for the membership of BRICS. And it is majorly informed by the fact that my principal, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a true democrat that believes in consensus building,” “There are so many variables that need to be taken into cognizance. We have to evaluate so many tendencies and issues that require engagements with the economic advisory council, the Federal Executive Council, and even the National Assembly before an informed decision towards joining the BRICS would be taken’’.
Peripherally, the Vice President’s claim appears acceptable. However, the argument may not hold water when faced with embarrassing arguments. Take as an illustration, it was in the news that South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, In early March, said that worldwide interest in the BRICS group was “huge.”
She further told television interviewers that she had 12 letters from interested countries on her desk’ “Saudi Arabia is one,” she said, adding that, “United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, and Argentina”, as well as Mexico and Nigeria.”
The crucial concern here is how do we reconcile the varying and conflicting claims discussed by Naledi Pandor and Nigeria’s Vice President?
Away from Naledi Pandor’s revelations, Nigerians with critical minds believe that the non-admission of Nigeria into BRICS is largely a sure sign of Nigeria’s battered economy and a manifestation of the current administration’s disrespect for healthy economic policies that could bring the nation’s economy out of the wood.
‘With malice to none but charity to all, this piece believed and still believes that there exists no reason as to why a serious body like BRICS would admit as a member, a nation that its economy under immediate past administration suffered brink of collapse with two consecutive recessions. Also, a reality to worry about is the fact that those negative policies that landed the nation in recession in the past are today embodied by the current administration’s anti-human economic policies characterized by protracted inabilities to stabilize the currency, the economy or grow the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Undoubtedly, looking at the BRICS growth potentials, the sustainability of their rise, and the impact they have already created on the environment of member nations, no one can describe as groundless the deep concern expressed by well-meaning Nigerians over the country’s failure to get enlisted as a member of the body.
Aside from the awareness that right from October 1, 1960, when Nigeria got her independence, it has related with the West with little or nothing to show for the relationship other than huge economic burden, infrastructural deficit and security challenges, there exists the other hands, hopeful signs, and possibility of economic growth and sociopolitical re-engineering if Nigeria joins BRICS.
For instance, reports have it that the cooperation among BRICS-member nations so far serves the common interests of the developing countries as well as the emerging market economies of member states. Also alluring is the awareness that cooperation and dialogue among the BRIC countries have also assisted the world’s harmony, peace and shared prosperity.
That is not the only benefit.
Viewed broadly, according to reports, BRICS countries from 2009 to 2014 agreed on economic and financial issues, including World Bank and IMF reforms. They agreed to undertake measures of mobilizing sufficient resources so that the IMF can strengthen its potential to combat all kinds of crises. They also created the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, which provides an Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency, and the BRICS Exchanges Alliance.
In the same vein, the BRICS nation, it was reported, offered a source of foreign expansion for firms and solid returns for institutional investors. They also focused on some regional issues, including the problems related to Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iran (their indigenous nuclear program), and coordinated together in resolving Conflicts, IMF reforms, the struggle against illicit drug trafficking, the need, use, and development of technologies in information and communication.
Also interesting is the awareness that, unlike other blocs, BRICS partners’ relations are built on the basis of the UN Charter; they follow the recognized principles as well as international law’s norms. All the member countries agreed to the following principles during their 2011 Summit. Those principles were: Openness, Pragmatism, Neutrality (regarding third parties) and Non-bloc nature’.
While this piece insists that joining the bloc remains an opportunity that Nigeria as a country must not miss, I hold the opinion that the country (Nigeria) will continue to suffer rejections in the hands of international organizations as well as face difficulty at home accelerating the economic life cycle of its people until leaders contemplate industrialization, or productive collaboration with private organizations that have surplus capital to create employment.
Therefore, as the debate rages, one point that Nigeria and Africa as a whole must not fail to remember is that from what experts are saying, the current wealth disparity among nations (industrial economies), represented by highly industrialized Europe, North America and Japan on one hand and most developing (non-industrial economies) countries, in particular, those in sub-Saharan Africa, on the order is largely a function of difference in the technical capability and capacity to produce and manufacture modern technologies and to use the technologies to produce and manufacture globally competitive industrial goods and to sustain the commanding tasks of science and technology in the economy.
The disparity, it was noted, has since considerably widened and will continue to widen as long as the developing countries depend almost totally on industrial nations for the technologies and industrial inputs they need to sustain their economies. Consequently, the only way to bridge the wealth gap is for the world’s developing countries to build their domestic endogenous capabilities and capacities to produce modern technologies and competitive industrial goods in their own economies, he concluded.
Catalyzing the process will again necessitate recognition by public office holders in Nigeria that public order, personal and national security, economic and social programmes, and prosperity are not the natural order of things but depend on the ceaseless efforts and attention from an honest and effective government that the people elect. They must collectively recognize that it takes a prolonged effort to administer a country well and change the backward habits of the people.
Nigerians, on their part, must admit that it is time to recover their moral and strategic ‘health’ to demand accountability from their leaders for poor decisions, missed judgment, lack of planning, lack of preparation and wilful denial of the obvious truth about serious and imminent threats that are facing the country.
“The destiny of the ship is not in the harbour but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it. If we are able to manage this situation and other social menace effectively and navigate out of the dangers of disintegration, it will once again announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace, love and new order shall reign supreme.
Utomi is the Program Coordinator (Media and Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]