Economic Diplomacy amongst Nigerian States will create jobs.
Cacheblog continues to harp that Nigeria is a well endowed country of 36 states. Each of these states has natural resources that can be tapped for the economic sustenance of the federating units.
However, a certain unitary mindset seems to have robbed the states of initiative and vibrancy which we are told existed in colonial times. Today, only a single revenue stream, discovered by Westerners sustains the economy.
Sadder still, is the fact tat the oil economy which the country has run for many decades now, is still at infancy. The nation exports crude oil and imports diverse fuels and finished goods in costs that outstrip its oil income.
Today, Nigeria is experiencing a gnawing recession that is making an aggressive advance at the already bare threads of the national fabric. Yet, the natural resources- agricultural, human, mineral and others remain robustly untapped.
Every month, the governors lower their caps before the Federal government for benevolence while population and unemployment figures continue to rise. The State Governors can do a lot more to stem this threatening tide.
In early 2016, two state governors made an exemplary move at what I would call, economic diplomacy in order to solve the fiscal, employment and food needs of their states and by extension, the nation.
This singular move still contributes to national stability and security as it engenders friendship and cooperation between the South and the Northern parts of the country.
WHAT IS ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY
Although economic diplomacy is usually an arrangement between nations, it can exist within the federating states of Nigeria each of which is larger than many an African country.
According to Wiki sources, Economic diplomacy is the use of the full spectrum of economic tools of the state to achieve its national interest.
Economic diplomacy includes all the economic activities, including but not limited to export, import, investment, lending, aid, free trade agreements etc..
It requires the application of technical expertise which analyze the effects of a country’s economic situation on its political climate and on economic interests. For the purpose of this article, let us substitute the words, ‘country’, with ‘state’.
THE LAGOS STATE AND KEBBI STATE EXAMPLE
The Governors of Lagos and kebbi States have set a pace in Nigeria by setting out to explore the possible gains in jointly venturing to exploit their states’ natural endowments.
They did not slouch into the hackneyed practice of wasting scarce resources visiting China or Thailand to “learn” how rice is grown; as has been the practise where Government officials visit foreign countries to understudy what is already known, just for the benefit of a foreign trip.
These governors rather decided to look inwards to discover their potentials and how they can be traded between them to provide value for both sides.
The ensuing exchange of visits and ideas led them to discover how their their individual comparative advantages could be built up to competitive levels.
Kebbi State is known for rice production but it is almost basically a rural state while Lagos State is an industrial and commercial hub. Each state could benefit from the other’s area of comparative advantage to provide economic dividends for their people.
Their findings now serve as a reference point for others.
In an analysis of the food needs and consumption capacity of his state, the Lagos State Governor had said: “Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of our State population.
We have the market, with the required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tonnes of milled Rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum…”
Analysis done, the State headed to Kebbi where the Governor of that State had also done his calculations to quantify the production capacity of his state in rice production that could be harnessed for economic benefit.
The report reads that, “Kebbi is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes.
The people are traditionally Rice farmers with average land holding of about 10 Hectares.
Presently, Kebbi has over 50,000 metric tonnes of paddy in store produced from the last 2 planting seasons…”
Their joint statement read: “With these considerations in mind, Lagos State and Kebbi State have decided to collaborate and exploit our areas of comparative advantage to create value for both States.”
Such economic expeditions replicated amongst governors of the many states in the country would readily pull the nation back on its feet within a short time.
The money in Lagos State is used to energise production in a state that has the land mass and environmental conditions that favour rice cultivation; while the rice is milled in Lagos, Nigeria’s industrial hub.
Both states create jobs for their residents through this initiative, conserve foreign exchange for the nation while also developing local industry.
OTHER STATES CAN EXPLORE MORE AREAS OF COOPERATION
Other areas where the cooperation between Nigerian states would also yield impressive returns include the exploitation of the nation’s mineral resources, especially gemstones.
The less developed but no less endowed states of the country can strategise on how they can synergise with the more affluent states to develop resources in their states to create jobs and make goods available and affordable within the country.
For example, the nation expends about 600million dollars (2014 figures) annually on the importation of ceramic products whereas the country has the capacity to produce them to meet local demand and for export.
A state like Rivers could partner with Kano State for the production of ceramic ware. Kano State has the raw materials while Rivers State, as one of the seats of the nation’s oil wealth, could set up industry that would consume the raw materials from Kano State.
In the same vein, Plateau State, where gemstones are mined by artisans, could enter a liaison with Lagos State to set up cutting centres and gemstones buying houses in Lagos where many of the nation’s jewellers are. This would also attract the world to Nigeria.