The auspicious aspect of the Nigerian angle is that Nigeria’s fate is in its own hands as the country is abundantly blessed with human and material resources to engineer an immediate turnaround.
As the global economy goes into a tailspin, Nigeria may lapse into dire straits if requisite action is not taken. With the price of oil falling and Boko Haram killing at will, our country is truly besieged. To save the economy entails looking into history to see how other nations battled out of woe. Digging deep into history it can be seen that other nations have suffered worse fates than Nigeria and emerged stronger for it through proper visioning.
To take Germany for example, there was the insane inflation of 1923 in which the German Mark was declared effectively dead on all accounts by economists.
The Mark in one week recorded an amazing output of, wait for it, 389,000,000,000,000! The discount rate at Reichsbank stood at an unparalleled rate of 90 percent by mid-September of 1923.
Even with all the pessimism holding sway in Nigeria today it has to be admitted that the country’s situation has not gone as bad as that of Germany then. If Germany can survive with proper economic planning it stands to reason that Nigeria cannot do much worse if it gets its act together.
Still on the thread of Germany as a ready example for Nigeria, the trauma of the Second World War would have ruined any nation for good. At the end of the war in 1945, Germany and all of the Western European nations were in economic ruins.
It took the imaginative statesmanship of then United States Secretary of State George Marshall to propose what became known globally as the “Marshall Plan”, a vision that started the rebuilding of the war-shattered economy of Western Europe into the mighty industrial engine of today.
It was while being decorated with Harvard University’s honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1947 that George Marshall said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world.”
As in the case of Nigeria where battle is geared toward hunger, poverty and creeping chaos, the United States felt correctly that it had to intervene in Europe at a critical moment to halt the drift of the world order.
The auspicious aspect of the Nigerian angle is that Nigeria’s fate is in its own hands as the country is abundantly blessed with human and material resources to engineer an immediate turnaround. The Nigerian landscape actually provides a large canvass as much as Europe to galvanize an exemplary economic growth.
The US Congress approved $13 billion in aid to Europe, of which a whopping 70 percent was spent on US goods. Talk of enlightened selfinterest. This would of course stand Nigeria in good stead in extending her influence in the West African sub-region.
In Nigeria where organized labour is forever suspicious of governmental plans, it is crucial to note that Britain’s arguably greatest trade unionist and Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, supported the Marshall Plan wholeheartedly when he exclaimed, “When the Marshall proposals were announced, I grabbed them with bCoal was a central issue in the Paris discussions of the Marshall Plan.
Nigerian leaders have needed lessons to learn how the European powers and the Americans overcame the issue raised by the fact that the US needed to shore up the German economy through the coal produced in Rurh for the Marshall Plan to be effective.
Initially, following the occupation of Germany after its defeat, the US government had issued a decree to its commander to take “no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany.” But for the Marshall Plan to be effective, the directive was reversed thus: “An orderly, prosperous Europe requires the economic contributions of a stable and productive Germany.”
The US then boosted German steel production from 5.8 to 12 million tons per annum much to the consternation of the European leaders who would have wanted “troublesome” Germany held down. But then it had to be realized by all concerned that it was better to make the Marshall plan succeed than to keep Germany perpetually in check.
By 1952 when the Marshall Plan ended Europe’s industrial production stood at 35percent above pre-war levels.
The accord of the general populace in Europe was for a prosperous Europe in the same way that the common people of Nigeria will always opt for any plan that would save Nigerians from want, disease, hunger etc.
In the implementation of the Marshall Plan, many commoners in Europe appeared to be far ahead of their own leaders.
Time magazine of 1947 quoted Henri Albert Joinville, a 46-year-old road repair man as saying, “The Marshall Plan was quite simple when it started and now the politicians are trying to make it complicated.”
It is the prayer of many Nigerians too that the politicians should not end up complicating matters in getting the
Nigerian economy out of the woods through the application of a homegrown make of the Marshall Plan.
– UZOR MAXIM UZOATU e-mail: maxim. firstname.lastname@example.org