Monday, 28 October 2019

Takeaways from Russian Visit: I commend President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR —by Ceejay Ojong

28 October 2019 

1. I sincerely commend PMB for the takeaways from his recent outing at the Russian Summit. Quite frankly and in my considered opinion, this outing is one of his most successful so far on behalf of Nigeria. His composure, coherence and clarity in articulating Nigeria's expectations and areas of cooperation were indeed outstanding. 

2. As an economist and a patriotic citizen, I cannot over-emphasize the potential gains and beneficial spillovers to different sectors of our economy if the projects and agreements are followed through and implemented seamlessly to completion in the short-to-medium term. From what I could glean from reports on the meeting there are nearly forty items of agreement and areas of cooperation advanced by Nigeria for which the Russian Federation is also favourably disposed. 

3. The key or most significant takeaways and agreements in principle include assistance and technical support in the following areas: Revamping and completion of Ajaokuta Steel Mill, construction of the proposed coastal rail-line from Lagos to Calabar, revamping of the Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) at Ikot Abasi, cooperation in oil & gas exploration including repairs and upgrading of refineries, building of nuclear power plants, cooperation in military training and government-to-government procurement of armaments to assist in tackling terrorism and insecurity, etc. We couldn't have asked for more at this time. 

4. Truth is, we live in an inter-dependent world where everybody needs everybody somehow to succeed. Nigeria can use Russian technological expertise to facilitate the rapid expansion and modernization of the different sectors of its economy. There is bound to be huge beneficial spill-over effects on job creation, incomes, standards of living, poverty reduction and much more in the short-to-medium term. The focus there is not necessarily about monetary aid as Russia does not have that much money to dole out to African countries but more about technical cooperation and technological support/transfer.

5. Suffice it to say that the usefulness of cooperation and collaboration among countries towards tackling the core issues of underdevelopment, poverty reduction, expanding economies and midwifing technological advancement cannot be over-emphasized. Russia itself for instance was a backward agrarian economy at the 1919 Revolution. Illich Vladimir Lenin took up leadership and set up the Communist Government between 1919 and 1925 when Josef Stalin (Iron Stalin) took-over, reigning from 1925 to 1952. Despite their ideological differences Russia invited America to help develop its railway, power plants and similar industries in the period between 1925 and 1940 such that by 1940 Russia was already industrialized. By this period the Arms race and cold war had not commenced or heightened to its later known feverish pitch in the era of Nikita Khrushchev who took over as General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1952 before becoming Premier of USSR in 1958.

6. Similarly, Japan opened up to American investments especially after World War II and developed rapidly. China is another candidate that had its economic and industrial landscape changed by American investments and technological transfers only a decade or two ago. China learned so fast, grew so rapidly and even became a threat to America forcing a consideration or temptation to shift the nexus of development to Brazil by the US as a strategic policy under the platform of Inter-Americas Cooperation. By this time the horse had already bolted away and it became useless shutting the stables door. So, in all of these cases collaboration and cooperation was important but not monetary aid necessarily. 

7. Nigeria has the benefit of learning fast from the experiences of these countries to develop rapidly especially if we add good leadership, sound institutions and a laser-sharp vision into the mix.

Congratulations Mr. President!
God bless Nigeria!

Citizen Ceejay Ojong
Abuja - Nigeria
24th October 2019

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