Today, China’s economy is reasoned to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Their economy is so big, fast and modernized that they are also the biggest donors in Africa in terms of direct investments and openness to trade.
But China’s economy wasn’t always as robust as it is today. Life in China in the nineteenth century was worse than the present day Nigeria; it was associated with economic hardship, poverty and food shortages. It took China’s government, under the Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping, the determination to make sustainable differences in the life of every Chinese and this determination made him lead a reformation team that ushered in a new era of economic, technological and political reforms which enabled China to open up to the world. That single idea of modernizing strategic areas in China through urbanization and industrialization benefited the country economically as it rises as a world power in the 21st century.
Infrastructure development was, and still remains, a top priority for China’s government. They have long recognized that a modern economy runs on reliable road and effective rail system, they also understand the strategic importance of constant electricity, quality education, excellent health care and the eradication of corruption in their political atmosphere. The country leaders have charted ambitious plans for the future of their country, their goal is to bring the entire nations urban infrastructure and educational standards to the level of standards in the advanced country, a vision which they are still aggressively pursuing.
The explosive growth of China’s middle class is also a contributing factor to the country’s sweeping economic and social transformation. The middle class continued expansion is powered by policy and labour market initiatives that increase wages, financial reforms that stimulates employment and income growth and the rising role of private enterprises which encourage productivity and help more household acquire more income.
Now, China and her rapid development should be a big example for African leaders, especially Nigeria. It is clear that Nigeria’s economy needs re-balancing because from the recent crying out by our finance minister, it is clear that the country is on the verge of collapse and only strategic economic principles are the panacea to the impending problems facing the country. Desperate times calls for desperate measures.
It’s high time Nigeria’s leaders acknowledged that Nigeria’s economy must be re-positioned by reducing its reliance on oil and increasing consumption of goods produced by other countries. I haven’t seen a nation that prospered with a single source of income, especially when that source is riddled by the highest proportion of corruption imaginable. China’s prospered because it killed corruption, diversified her economy and vigorously increased consumption by establishing and promoting the country’s manufacturing sector. A sector which is fueled by Africa’s unabashed quest for low cost made in China commodities.
Nigeria’s leaders must understand that maintaining growth and stability in the country requires both sustainable economic and radical political changes. Our economic policy adjustments must focus on eradicating poverty, shifting our Nigeria from a consumer oriented society to a producer oriented one, tackling unemployment through creating more job opportunities and establishing a sound educational model.
Our leaders must acknowledge educational development as instrumental to nation building and socioeconomic development. My belief is that the implementation of a progressive curriculum with an emphasis on practical, adult and teacher training, in a national system of education, is a basis for self-development. And a model that focuses on entrepreneurship, youth policies and science and technology, is the basis for national development.
Entrepreneurship must be allowed to thrive. Globally, SME’s are regarded as the backbone of every thriving economy, it also allows for the creation of environments that allows jobs to flourish.
One salient way to bring about radical changes in our political atmosphere is to make our political environment less attractive. If we look closely, Nigeria’s political environment is one of the most expensive in the world. The leadership of Nigeria is less than 5% of the population of the country, yet they live in the kind of luxury that exists only in the imagination of 90% of the entire population, all in the name of politics. The irony of this is that they lavish the country’s wealth without having anything to account for year after year.
Believe me, if Nigeria’s political environment is sanitized and made less attractive, if the politicians don’t enjoy bonuses and allowances worth huge millions of naira, they won’t bother running for political positions unless they have the motivations and deep capacity to serve. No kind of political transformation will succeed until we have fully embarked on the process of making the political positions less attractive.
If Nigeria really wants to re-position and re-balance her economy, China’s example must be important because it has shown clearly that it can be done, it also shows that modernization does not mean westernization. China embraced modernization but their management was completely Chinese, they showed that developing countries need to learn from developed ones but they do not have to abandon their cultures and traditions in the process, except the ones that are inimical to modernization. We have to look up to China and copy their best methods. We have to harness their ideas and technologies and build the kind of society that we need, we also need not sacrifice our values and traditions on the altar of modernization.
Westernizing our lives is one of the major problems in Africa and, to a large extent, Nigeria. I doubt if the Chinese are concerned about issues like who has the hottest legs or who has the hottest bum. I doubt if they allow programmes that encourage their youths to spend three months of their adult lives in the atmosphere that encourages acts of moral and cultural degradation. I think they would rather encourage their youths to think creatively. I also think they would create programmes that stimulate the youth’s intellectual capacities to solve huge, impending, problems.
We must act with the urgency of now to correct the ills in our society so that we can re-balance our economy before it collapses. China understands that development depends on good governance, and good governance is that single ingredient that has been missing for a long time in Nigeria. Good governance is the change that can unlock Nigeria’s potentials to the world of immense possibilities and it is a responsibility that can only be met by Nigerians in Nigeria, not the Chinese in Nigeria.
Richard Chilee is a writer, thinker and entrepreneur.