Nigeria: Political, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Discussions

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Chinese Are Raping You, Indians are Molesting You, and Your Mama Seems to Care Less

By

Ahmed Garba

In a previous article, “Mega Stores, Foreign Investors, the Nigerian Retailer, and the Reign of Compradors” (https://issuesnigeria.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/mega-stores-the-nigerian-retailer-and-the-reign-of-compradors/), I raised some issues regarding the penetration and subjugation of African, and particularly, Nigerian markets by the two most bloated nations of the world—China, and India. The negative effects of our blind and unregulated trade relations with these countries are still being debated, but some honest observers have stated their unequivocal position on this matter. Recall the remark by former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido on the dangers to Nigeria, even the whole of Africa, of our unchecked trade relationship with China, a remark which engendered a retort from the Chinese government. In this article, I will re-visit this seemingly unattended or still unresolved issues. I will set aside the obvious economic, that is, international trade imbalance, international finance, and debt consequences of these relationships. More importantly, I will focus on the human consequences of these lopsided relationships.

Pure Water or Dead Water?

There was a time in Nigeria, Lagos, to be precise, when, if a house lacked its own pipe-borne water, supply, there were public water faucets strategically located around the city, which were maintained by municipal water services (a.k.a Public Water Works). However, once Nigeria was cursed with the reign of the short, gap-tooth devil, water, a basic necessity of life has continued to remain a commodity beyond the reach of an average Nigerian, so much so that water supply has become more than a profitable business. A venture that is now being aided by, particularly the Chinese and the Indians, who have wasted no time to feed our “goo-goo-eyed” entrepreneurs known for their tendency to amorously adore wealth, no matter the source, with endless supply of Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration or distillation systems. And that is the problem—RO filtration and Distillation systems.

Today, a lot of communities in Nigeria can boast of “neighborhood millionaires” whose sudden wealth is attributable to the business of “pure water”. However, what Nigerians have been consuming as “pure water” is actually DEAD WATER! so called because, the water has been “demineralized”. Scientists around the world generally agree that “life” and healthy drinking water must contain certain levels of some essential minerals including, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, zinc, etc. But, when water is processed via RO or distillation, what comes out the other end is “dead water”, because these processes filter out everything—the bad, as well as the good minerals that I have listed above.

According to Scientists, when one consumes excess amount of “dead water”, it offsets the body’s pH (presence of hydrogen) balance, while increasing the acidity in the body. Excess acidity promotes the presence of “free radicals” which are known to raid and pillage healthy cells in the body. In fact, we may have already started seeing evidence of this assertion. I once heard that in one of the northern states (perhaps Jigawa?) there has been unusual increase in reported cases of organ failure, which may have been somewhat or loosely linked to “pure water”. Added to the dangers of dead water is the fact that, in Nigeria, this water is distributed in either plastic bags or plastic bottles. It has since been found that plastic materials, especially the cheap ones, often contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a dangerous chemical substance known to sip into the liquid that it contains. So, you see, if the dead water doesn’t kill you, BPA may give you cancer. They sure get you going and coming.

A more scientific and detailed report of the negative effects of RO or distilled water (a.k.a Deminerailzed water) has been documented as far back as the 1980s and again in 2004, by no less entity than World Health Organization (WHO), in this article:

http://web.archive.org/web/20130626043055/http://www.who.int:80/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutdemineralized.pdf

The facts revealed in this article in itself makes one wonder why and how the business of “pure water” could have been allowed to proliferate so much in Nigeria.

In western countries, many who used to think that bottled water was the “in-thing” are fast realizing that these “waters” are not only inferior to their own municipal drinking water—which by law has to observe the standardized pH value of 7.0–but that such bottled waters are even dangerous, for the simple fact that, they are more acidic than they are alkaline. There have been many demonstrated tests to proof this point. Little wonder then, why countries known for their health consciousness (e.g. Japan) have for very long time, been in the forefront of consuming alkaline (a.k.a. Ionized water). Granted that water ionization machines are beyond the reach of an average Nigerian, but, at least our agencies (hint, hint, NAFDAC) can establish a minimum of pH value that water purifiers must observe. How about that pH value of 7.365, which scientists (of whom I am not one) have agreed upon, accompanied by some acceptable ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) value? Better yet, how about we eliminate the Chinese and Indian supported business of “pure water” and go back to properly processed municipal water supply? After all, consumption of “life”, healthy water should be, if it isn’t already, a part of fundamental human right.

Useless and Substandard Electronics

Virtually every day, the shores and ports of Nigeria, even the whole of Africa are impregnated with ships off-loading container-loads of items that Nigerians/Africans have been convinced they must have, or things that, by the sheer failures of their own governments, have become necessities of life. Consider the quantity of sub-standard cell phones and other electronics that are shipped into Nigeria from China or India. Phones that are glued together with poor antennas (which result in bad reception); hardly reliable batteries; screens that can make you go blind from horrible pixel patterns, etc. To be sure, in their own countries (e.g. China), they do produce relatively better quality products for domestic consumption. A case in point, unlike the “Chinco” phones that they sell to us, they have phones of decent quality such as, Oppo N1, which they only consume internally or ship to western countries.

How about the Chinese and Indian forays into solar energy products? Here we have these two countries lounging ahead of western countries, into African markets, where they are bent on selling us products that conscious solar installers have come to realize are not only substandard, but have been known to fry and perhaps burn down parts of houses. Solar panels that are too underpowered for their stated voltages, shoddy soldering of solar cells that leads to malfunctions, resulting in at least, loss of money invested, if not lives. How about inverters where their internals have been tacked onto mere “cardboard” circuitry, or poorly wired parts, or dangerously soldered control boards?

I suggest readers ask themselves, how many Su-Kam inverters are being sold in Europe or USA? If none or not many, why not? Isn’t India a signatory to several world trade regimes? We have even seen Taiwanese-made solar inverters making brisk business in places such as Europe and Australia, even the USA, but not those made in India.

It might also interest the reader to know that when SME (a German company)—one of the foremost manufacturers of solar inverters–decided to look for ways to cut cost and expand their market share, they did not choose to work with the Indians. Instead, they went into partnership with the Chinese company, Jiangsu ZeverSolar. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-12-21/sma-solar-buys-majority-stake-in-chinese-inverter-maker. Perhaps the reason for such decision is what someone has aptly stated that, ‘Indians thrive in an environment of chaos’, which is an anathema for the Germans known for their orderliness and quality work. And, it is this affinity for chaos that makes Nigeria a fertile ground for Indians, because lord knows, there is no place more chaotic than Nigeria, as demonstrated by the mind-boggling public theft that we have been reading about lately.

We don’t even want to talk about those unbiquitous power generators that have become sources of noise, air pollution, avoidable accidents, and even deaths. One wonders how many cases of asthma would have been avoided, if Nigerians have not been condemned to the life of “I pass my neighbor”. In a country where solid waste disposal has been a challenge for generations, we are now adding to the pile, this excess load of dangerous electronic products, that if not properly recycled or disposed off, could spell doom for us, in terms of health care epidemics. Meanwhile, the Indians and the Chinese would have carted away their loot.

Life-threatening Consumer Goods

I have often wondered, had Nigeria been a country with well-funded consumer protection agencies, how many dangerous imported consumer goods would have been uncovered by now. Take children toys for example, from time to time one reads that in Western countries, certain Chinese-made toys have been found to be dangerous for kids, and therefore, their importation must be banned. But, in Nigeria, our “Nouveau riche”, will arrogantly walk their over-pampered kids to the new neighborhood ShorpRite, and ignorantly purchase the same toys for them. This, while our custom service, or the police look away. Do we even have safety control boards in Nigeria? If so, what sort of safety standards have they put in place for these foreign imports? How often have these standards been enforced? Sure, there must have been occasions where some of these toys have done some damages, but would we ever know, particularly, for the Hausas, who fatalistically rests everything in the hands of God (“Haka Allah ya Qaddara”).

Now that Buhari’s administration is emphasizing the need to fund and promote agriculture, watch and see how the Indians and the Chinese will jump on this opportunity and saturate us with all sorts of crappy products, a litany of gimmickry gadgetries, some of which we haven’t even fathomed yet. We may begin to see tools/equipment claiming to make it possible to farm yams from plastic bags draped over your balcony, or a machinery that can farm, harvest and produce dried okra in a blink of an eye. The only thing they may not tell us is that, while using these gadgets, if you stand to the left or right, at an opportuned angle, you are bound to loose a limb, get mutilated, or even die. In addition, as I have noted elsewhere in the article referenced above, we may even see Chinese or Indians trying to sell us machines for making “Kosai” (akara), which may be powered by kerosene, running through a faulty hose that can leak and explode unannounced! Or worse still, we may begin to see Chinese and Indian investors buying off our farm lands with the connivance of some of our genuflecting dunces in the corridors of power. Certainly, the likes of “Mesu Jamba” Saraki, or several others of our rentiers will gladly oblige them. All these while poor Nigerians watch helplessly.

Chemically-damaging and Perhaps, Arsenic-ladened Products

All across West Africa, the business of second-hand clothing has bloomed to the detriment of our local textile industries. In addition to these losses, most of the bales of textiles shipped to Africa from China are not only of inferior quality, but they are made with chemicals (e.g. dyes) that are not only unsafe, but may even be found to be carcinogenic. This, in addition to the decimating effect on our industries. How many of Nigeria’s textile companies are operational today?

How about those wigs exported by Indians? Wigs harvested from lice-infested hair of poor, rural, wretched Indians, sometimes mixed with materials from the tails of farmished horses, then processed with dangerous chemicals. It is quite bemusing to see the so-called Nollywood actresses adorn themselves with this otherwise filthy “fashion”, simply out of ignorance and extreme inferiority complex.

I have sometimes wondered why some Nigerian women tend to feel some itch on their heads and can’t resist scratching and sometimes pounding their heads.. Could it be the toxic chemicals used to process the wigs and/or the chemicals in their hair pomade reacting with the African sun?

What is even more disturbing is watching the so-called Kannywood movies where, otherwise cultured Hausa-Fulani actresses will forego their traditions and values in preference for some ridiculous Indian sari, or imitating Indian music genre. You have the choice of Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, etc., cultures, but you will opt for something belonging to people who, even in the 21st century still have part of their population (more than the entire population of Nigeria) that believe in worshiping rats or Shiva, the lord of erect Phallus. What a sorrowful and pathetic demonstration of ignorance and inferiority complex.

CONCLUSION

As I make these points, I am sure there will be no shortage of people (Nigerians) who will disagree with me. Some may even heave and howl, mainly because they benefit from this rape of our land and people. The Europeans did their bit during colonialism, with the connivance of our “elites” in palaces and local government. Now the Chinese and the Indians are coming for their own round of the orgy, and some of our representatives have been more than eager to aid and abet them, for the right fee. If you have ever reflected deeply on these matters, you will begin to understand that when Idi Amin Dada ejected Indians from Uganda, the man was not totally crazy after all.

Anyone who has observed these two countries–China, and India, might even excuse the Chinese, to some degree, because their sense of human relations with respect to Africans is more tolerable than the overtly insulting manners of the Indians. Here is a people, the Indians, who, wherever they go, they carry with them their abhorrent culture of caste system. Ever noticed that, in all parts of Africa—even East and Southern Africa—where they sometimes claim indigenous identity, they make a point of living in their own enclave? In fact, the only part of the world where Indians have somewhat interacted, (“assimilated”) with the local community is the Caribbean Islands, and even there, the Indians are mostly descendants of “lower caste” indentured servants brought there by the British. Contrast this with the fact that, even in the heart of China, some Africans, Nigerians included have found acceptance to the extent that, in addition to operating businesses, there have been inter-marriages between Chinese and Nigerians or other Africans. Even pseudo-homogeneous Japan, more advanced in many ways than India and China has witnessed some degree of acceptance of Africans—in their own country—at least via inter-marriages. Granted, these seeming examples of acceptance may be cases of calculated agenda on the part of both parties, for some perceived socio-economic benefits, but, finding similar examples with respect to the Indians is tantamount to looking for hen’s teeth.

We have also witnessed rare demonstration of “honor” by Chinese officials who have been willing to commit suicide or serve jail time for crime against humanity, perhaps not for “raping” Africans. Have you ever heard of an Indian demonstrating such “honor”, even as a result of crime against their own people, let alone an act of “raping” Africa and Africans? Rather, what we have seen were occasions where African students, especially Nigerians have been mercilessly murdered by Indians, often with the connivance or tacit knowledge of Indian police! And so far, no Nigerian authority has been known to have sought redress, let alone secure any justice on behalf of these Nigerians who have been so horribly exterminated, by the same set of people who come into our country in search of wealth. Compared to China, how many Nigerians run/operate businesses, even a Kiosk, in India? Yet, Indians can have a massive Sikh temple in the heart of Lagos? I wonder how many Lagosians or Nigerians practice Buddhism.

Remember the case of the Indian owners of Dana Airlines who fled the country as soon as they have killed Nigerians, by operating defective aircrafts? Of course, their flight was probably aided in part, by our “trusted” officers in the police force, the immigration, and the judiciary, who have elevated the practice of vertical corruption to an art. Furthermore, with the depth of poverty and desperation that Nigerians have been subjected to, coupled with the many instances of professed Indian disdain for African lives, it is quite possible for us to wake up one day only to find out that there have been underground Indian-operated rackets for human organ harvesting going on right under our noses. After all, they have been known to conduct similar operations (for Kidney harvesting) in their own country, using their own lower caste members, sometimes for the benefit of wealthy Middle Eastern Oil Sheikhs. Besides, our own domestic baby factory operations are enough to serve as excuse for them.

Yes, they are raping and molesting us, and sadly with the help of our own people.

In light of the preceding discussions, I will, along with other well-meaning Nigerians, hope that, as this new administration takes shape, we may begin to have some control over what our people are being “fed” by our foreign trade partners, especially, the Indians and the Chinese, who have demonstrated high level of aggression in their dealings with us. Simply put, we need to “Take Back Nigeria”.

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Mega Stores, Foreign Investors, the Nigerian Retailer, and the Reign of Compradors

By

Ahmed Garba

Recently, in a conversation with a friend, it downed on us that slowly but surely, the Nigerian ruling class is definitely hammering the nails on the coffin of what used to be a proud Nigerian class—The Small Business Owners or Retailers.  Once upon a time, the bulk of Nigerian “middle class” was essentially comprised of people/families engaged in the business of buying and selling–from small scale retailer, to some sort of pseudo wholesaler.  The economies of cities such as Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, etc., were heavily propelled and kept alive by the activities of Mom and Pop businesses, where services as little as hawking food on the streets, local eatery/bakery, roadside vulcanizing were legitimate, albeit, marginally sufficient income earning businesses.  It used to be that you could find that street-corner Carpenter to build your furniture from scratch.

But alas, we are beginning to see the death of this hope! 

Let us forget for the moment, the widely known perversion of the oil sector.   That is, the decimation of the refineries in preference for the importation of refined petrol–an objective nurtured and sustained by our very own abominable “leisure class”, to borrow from Thorstein Veblen.  Let’s not even talk about the absurdity called “privatization”, where we have seen all sorts of permutations of “investors” consisting of our very own embezzling compradors, and all manners of shady characters from foreign lands.  No, let’s look at more banal, mundane economic life.   If you canvass cities such as Kaduna, Kano, etc., you will find out that, with respect to the business of bakery alone, local bakers have lost out to the Chinese.  The reign of Idris Moro in Kaduna has come to an end.  In places such as Kano, certain markets that used to be populated by “Kanawa” (e.g. Kanti Kwari) have been taken over by the Chinese as well, who now sell to us, things that they were never known to consume or produce until recently (e.g. printed fabric such as, batik, “atamfa”).  Our fishermen are also fast losing out to the Chinese, as even the tilapia that we eat now come from China.  The cabinet makers who used to produce locally made furniture from our local trees (e.g. mahogany) have been usurped by the Chinese, who now sell us substandard products, imported from China.  Even our cobblers/shoemakers have lost out to the Chinese.  The same Chinese people that were never known to be the first name in shoemaking; not even in the business of leather goods. All these while our callous elite class ‘grin’ all the way to the bank.

Our compradors, from national “leadership” to lowly pen-pushers have sold us out and they continue to do so, without batting an eyelid.  They now serve as “fronts” or “facilitators” to both large and small foreign investors such as Shoprite, Walmart, or what have you, who somehow manage to secure visa and enter Nigeria to conduct business at the drop of a hat.  In fact, in the case of entities such as Shoprite, they simply annihilate/obliterate our small scale retailers and not to the chagrin of our “leaders”. Unfortunately, our somewhat educated but unenlightened city dwellers have been sold the idea that mega stores, such as Shoprite, Walmart are indicators of progress.

The poor Nigerian retailer has been so beaten down that he/she has had to engage in his/her own little paradigm shift—if you cannot beat them; cannot join them, then crawl over there and take some crumbs off their table.  Now we have our retailers “sub-wholesaling” from the Chinese or from those serving as fronts for the Chinese.  Look around, you will find that whatever is left of your local shop is full of Chinese substandard goods; notice the goods being hawked by those kids who put their lives on the line at various traffic intersections and you will find that they are all made in China or India.  In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that pretty soon, the old lady frying ‘Kosai/akara’ by the roadside, as well as the old ‘Buka’ owner, aka “Mama Put” will soon be overtaken by Chinese, who will set up a Kiosk with Chinese-made gas stove and shoddy plastic benches to impress poor Nigerians, who will be oblivious to the fact that their mothers/grandmothers have just been trampeled! If you are in doubt, observe the sudden proliferation of Chinese eateries in the country.

Already, the business of bore hole drilling has been taken over by those teaming Indians, who now enter Nigeria in droves.  This, in spite of the fact that one will be hard pressed to find Nigerians doing business in India with the assistance of Indian governments at any level.  One has to wonder how it is possible for Indians in faraway India to be able to figure out that there is money to be made, by going to Nigeria to dig holes all over the place in search of water, while throngs of Nigerian college graduates are roaming the streets unemployed.  Nigeria’s “patriotic” leadership never thought it fit to divert the opportunity granted these Indians to helping Nigerians for the sake of Nigeria.  An example here might be, granting loans to the unemployed graduates who are willing to take on bore hole drilling business.  After all, the Indians trooping into Nigeria might have taken loans from their own governments or family members, with the guaranteed hope of repatriating handsome remuneration right before the eyes of Nigeria’s heartless elite.

Even Ethiopian Airlines has edged out whatever Nigeria/Nigerians can boast of in the airline industry, thanks to the grand gamin from Otta, Obasanjo, who supervised the shredding auctioning of our erstwhile Nigerian Airways.  Not to be left behind, the Nigerian Police is already being “rented” out to serve the Chinese; even protect Chinese laborers.  I suppose this is what happens when reprobates are at the helms of affairs.

While Nigerians may have been sold a dummy—that mega stores are good things, let us remember that, even in mega wealthy America, with its diversified economy, local communities often shiver, and rise up against intrusion from large corporations such as Walmart, due to the ‘Pac-man’-like mentality of these mega corporations.  It has never been lost on their small business owners that mega stores mean the death of their own future or the future of their community as they know it. In fact, even American large corporations enjoy government protection against foreign competition!

Love him or hate him, one of the things General Buhari did as chairman of PTF was to enforce a policy that PTF contractors MUST patronize Nigerian businesses and manufacturers. Call it import-substitution, with a little dose of mercantilism.  However, since that agency was sent to the “defunct pile”, none of the subsequent governments since 1999 has thought it necessary to continue such sensible policy.  One wonders why our “economic policy experts” never bother to fashion a development strategy based on one of the two prominent competing choices available to developing countries.  That is, import-substitution or export-led growth.  For, as we have been witnessing, “consumption” whether conspicuous or not, is a dead end for Nigeria. Remember the countries formerly known as (NICs) Newly Industrializing Countries (e.g. Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brazil)? They are light years ahead of Nigeria now, thanks to good governance and commitment to sound economic policies. Not the policy of “its own turn to chop”. Instead of fashioning sensible economic policy, we are being led down the path of stupendous borrowing (in billions, trillions, centillions of Naira). All these, in the midst of plenty–Nigeria’s oil revenue has never been quite as high as it has been in recent years.

We recently read that the Carpet Crosser of Bauchi, Governor Isa Yuguda has committed the lives of the people of Bauchi state, for 25 years, into the hands of some Chinese investors, to the tune of $201 million dollars (320 billion Naira), in order to provide the state with 140 mega watts of electricity. Since no plebiscite was ever approved by the poor people of Bauchi state, who, by the way, are still reeling from the devastating menace of Boko Haram, one wonders why this moral hypocrite of the Northern Governors Forum, did not invite his mother-in-law, Turai ‘Yar Adua, the one time cabal comandante and a master pilferer in her own right, to step forward and join in this “sensible” venture. After all, coughing up some ill-gotten wealth may expiate some sins.

All these events, coupled with the seemingly endless insecurity; unabated vertical and horizontal corruption; and unbearable hardships make one wonders if Nigeria is not fast becoming a form of dystopia, managed by anti-human compradors.  Unfortunately, such is the Cul de Sac that we have found ourselves. We can only hope that the country’s rulership will one day ‘find religion’, and realize the value of good governance.
 

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