Forty years ago, there were two countries in different parts of the globe. One country is situated in Asia and the other country is situated in Africa. These two countries were in a similar economic dystopia. They faced similar smorgasbord of economic challenges. They were characterised as poverty-stricken countries. They were called poorest of all the poor countries in the world. They were labelled the most corrupt countries in the world. And they were laden with internal political conflicts that had undertones of civil war that both countries had faced at different times in their histories.
However, these two countries are unequally endowed with natural resources. Truly, nature endowed the country in Africa with a variety of natural resources more than the country in Asia. Though both countries have different political systems, they are connected somehow to the economic policy and political reform prescriptions of the West – who deem themselves to be the messiah of the developing countries.
Then forty years after, the story of economic progress is different for these two countries. While the country in Asia has transformed impressively to become the second biggest economy in the world, the other country in Africa has continued perennially to remain in the poor state where the two countries used to be in the past. While economic progress of the country in Asia is quite instructive, economic situation in the other country in Africa is alarming. There are many questions begging for answers regarding the huge disparity in economic progress of these two countries. But the key question is why does the huge disparity in economic progress of the two countries even exist? There are many reasons for this.
First, in the last forty years it would appear that the sense of economic dystopia in the country in Asia became pronounced; hence the country’s search for solutions to the myriads of economic problems that it faced became a desirous priority. This is not the case in the other country in Africa. It would seem that in the last forty years the country in Africa was complacent with the idea that a foreign messiah from the West would come to salvage her from her multiple economic problems.
Second, while the country in Asia became somehow aggressive with structural reforms and developing policies that targeted long term uninterrupted economic development, the other country in Africa became somehow obsessed with foreign aids and the wave of democratisation that the West had orchestrated.
Third, while the country in Asia defined its own democracy, governance and development, and as such created its own economic development path that is totally different from the economic and political prescriptions sold to developing countries by the West, the other country in Africa was complacent with the development path prescribed by the West without even questioning the compatibility of that path with the structures inherent in her political and socio-economicsystems.
Lastly, while the country in Asia was busy building a formidable central state that put the welfare of its people at the centre of nation building and as such allowed its people to participate in that nation building, the other country in Africa was busy building an authoritarian state under the guise of alien electoral democracy to oppress and suppress its people while celebrating victories in bogus elections.
Forty years has gone by quickly and the difference in economic development of the two countries is crystal clear. Indeed, the country in Asia has left behind, in all aspects of economic progress, the country in Africa. Today, the gap between the two countries in the global economic settings is wide. While the country in Asia has a sit and negotiating powers at the table of big economies in the world, the other country in Africa is still dreaming of a sit at the table of big economies in the world. Though both countries were once at the bottom of the pyramid of global economies, the country in Asia has emerged to become a global power to reckon with and the other country in Africa has continued to crawl to the country in Asia for development aids. As a result, the country in Asia has quietly, yet courageously, economically capturedthe country in Africa and even other African countries with her portfolio of investments and development loans and grants.
However, it is not too late for the country in Africa to catch up. Opportunities still abound for the country in Africa to harness its abundant natural resources to make life better for her people and make similar economic progress that the other country in Asia has made. But taking advantage of those opportunities for the greater economic benefits of all her citizens depends on whether the country in Africa has truly learnt her lessons; the lessons of how she has squandered forty years of economic development. Age is still on her side – she is just 58 years old. That country in Africa is Nigeria and the other country in Asia is China.