Nigeria and the IMF

Lou Paulsen wwchi at
Tue Aug 1 11:27:47 MDT 2000

This article originally appeared on a site called and was
recirculated on a mailing list... the author's name was not reproduced.


The thing about being that attractive girl in the neighbourhood, perhaps
just come of age and with a certain reputation for independence and daring,
is that every rascal within the area wants to do you, dreams about doing
you, and in any case has the full confidence that he can tell any wild
stories about a dalliance with you with a reasonable chance of being
believed by the other dreamy boys in the neighbourhood. You've got a

And none of them will stop at any thing even if such has the potentiality of
ruining whatever good is still left of your reputation permanently. After
all, you are the "bad girl" of the neighbourhood and everybody knows that
you deserve what is coming to you. And if you happen to develop a bit of a
case of the jitters and begin to weaver in your rebellious resolve, there
will be no end to the number of these horny big and little guys who will
come forward in hopes of rescuing you and perhaps making you a willing
mistress. In every case, they want control of you, a mitigation of your
rebellious "wildness" for their own personal pleasures. Some of the more
business minded ones among them might even turn you out to earn some money
for them... if you let them.

Okay, it may be stretching it just a bit to apply this analogy to Nigeria
vis a vis the international community, specifically the Western powers, but
Nigeria has, for much of the 90s, been the whipping boy of the international
community with every one decrying our lack of democracy, and making a lot of
hoopla about this supposedly suphisticated fraud scam that was the preserve
of Nigerians only. It got so bad that many Nigerians turned their own worst
enemies by actually believing these tales or developing a guilt complex. And
the more we cringe over these so called terrible things about Nigeria, the
bolder our accusers become. There is something so very fishy about it all.
Recent statements coming out of some quarters, especially in Europe, leaves
one to wonder what the intention truly is.

Nigeria is indeed the new international paramour, eager to please every
comer, 'cause having tasted the unenviable state of being a pariah among
respectable nations is now more than ready to jump over the moon and into
bed to fulfil the kinky demands of whichever lover, or do a comic pratfall
for any one of its many "benefactors" that demands it.

And the demands keep pouring in. According to an editorial report carried
recently by a UK-based Nigerian e-zine, the Nigeria Today Magazine, at a May
4, 1999 conference organised by the Financial Times in London, the British
Treasury Secretary, Ms. Patricia Hewitt, told the audience that Britain's
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gordon Brown, sent a letter to the new
finance minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Isma'ila Usman, telling the latter that
the Obasanjo government should not expect any debt rescheduling, relief or
new loans unless it allowed Britain to direct the privatisation programme
for Nigerian state industries. Any debt relief would also be contingent on
the IMF being given permanent day-to-day supervision of the Central Bank of
Nigeria, the Finance Ministry, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company

It was a British think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, which not
long ago published an article in its journal, Economic Affairs that
suggested, with a straigth face, that what ought to happen in Africa is for
each nation in the continent to be leased back to Western business types who
would then manage the countries much like European chartered companies did
with colonies in Africa and elswhere during the 19th century and earlier and
much better than African leaders are doing today.

More recently still, buried innocuously inside a Guardian Newspaper report
about a joint Nigeria-EU announcement on bilateral relations, was a
statement that the European Union wanted its member-states to apply a
uniform National Implementation Policy (NIP), in other words, another
Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), as part of the basic conditions for
each state's economic or development assistance loans and agreements with
the new Nigerian government.

What all this amounts to is a less than secret desire to dictate Nigeria's
domestic and international economic policy. It is a strategy designed to
bring Nigeria into compliance with Europe's plans within the new world
order. It is also a less-than-respectful assessment of Nigeria's ability to
transcend the challenges of the emerging economic order, hence this indecent
scramble to bring her into line with "first world" plans.

The last time Nigeria allowed itself to be subjected to outside economic
prescriptions, the country suffered severe economic recession and a drastic
lowering of living standards. About the only people that benefited from the
SAP of 1992 were the multinationals and the economies of Europe and North
America. It is not going to be any different this time around. The economic
strategies of "first world" nations, whether for their own domestic needs or
in relation to other countries, are developed not with the economic
interests of less developed or "third word" nations in mind, but in such a
way as to consolidate the interests and advantages of the former.

Hence, most of the talk about helping "third world" countries like Nigeria
economically is deceptive. The only unequivocal statement that one can make
of industrial nations' policies regarding Nigeria right now is that they are
all positioning themselves for strategic advantage regarding this most
populous and rich African nation. They all want a piece of Nigeria,
preferably to dampen her ability for developing an Afrocentric worldview
capable of altering the evolving balance of international power. Whether
this is the intention of Nigeria or not is immaterial. The current political
wisdom is to prevent the African nation from developing this capability. The
methods employed can vary.

Canada, for instance, has sought to use its "soft power" of diplomatic
persuasion, even coercion (as opposed to US hard military might) to
influence events and choices within Nigeria. Throughout much of the 90s,
Canada remained at the forefront of the demand to impose sanctions on
Nigeria and oust her from the Commonwealth. More recently, she was the only
country that refused to welcome President-elect Obasanjo during his
pre-inauguration world tour to drum-up support for Nigeria and its economy.

Canada also sent a relatively low-level Canadian delegation led by Secretary
of State (Latin America and Africa) David Kilgour to the Abuja inauguration
of President Olusegun Obasanjo, on May 29, 1999. "Canada has helped with the
transition from military to civilian rule, and is committed to working
closely with Nigeria directly and through various international organisation
to assist in consolidating its democratic gains," said Mr. Kilgour through a
government press release.

The delegation, before leaving Abuja to return to Canada, told the Nigerian
press the same thing every other European and North American interest has
been telling Nigeria: Adjust your economic policies to suit our demands
before we can encourage public or private investment in your country.

All of these things add up to pressure. To agree to any of the demands will
put a greater gulf between Nigerians and the control of their economy. More
and more the role of controller of our political economy will go to bodies
like the IMF, Western multinationals and, in some cases, their governments
as well and slowly that dream of the British Institute of Economic Affairs
will become reality.

The worst thing Nigeria can do right now, therefore, is to accede wholesale
to these various but similar demands. In order to protect and preserve
Nigeria's economic independence, her political sovereignty and social
freedoms, President Obasanjo and the new legislature must exercise great
discipline and caution in their own decisions and actions in the domestic
and foreign areas. The kind of renegade behaviour that characterised the
last legislature between 1979 and 1983 and the ineffectual presidency that
accompanied it can not suffice under the current situation.

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