The Corona Pandemic is a game changer. To some of us this comes as no surprise, knowing the 250 year trend of global structural changes – Oyo Bashorun Gaa, USA independence from UK in 1770s, Protestanism breakup of Roman Catholic Empire and Oyo vs Nupe in 1520 etc.
In traditional African philosophy dualism that believes every single thing has a material and spiritual side, we would examine the logical progression then trends based on geometric and trigonometric influences deciphered by ancient knowledge banks.
First, is the effect of the Corona lockdowns on local and international trade. The expected massive unemployment would probably rise 10 times of what it was pre-Covid. This would be caused and lead to a lot of business and bank failures. Though, in Nigeria, government is business, the economic system of distributing petrodollars. This political economy dictated by the unitary government would have no choice but to yield to the sound reasoning of restructuring advocates, led by the South and Middlebelt leadership forum of Afenifere, Ohaneaze, Pandef and Middlebelt forum.
The Chairman of Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State stated the obvious when he revealed that by June 2020, there would be no petrodollars to distribute as federal allocations. The current system will effectively be dead since at least 80% of the states are totally dependent on federal allocations. Even after the global lockdown is over, it is unlikely the price of oil would raise above its break even point. It is viewed that this break in fuel consumption of cars might serve as the turning point to electricity cars.
Without crude oil sales and import duties from maritime trade, the federal government would have to move from a unitary arrangement to true federalism. The states would have to find ways of increasing their internally generated revenue.
A good example is Ondo State that had been begging to be exempted from federal laws prohibiting it from using its forests to grow medical Marijuana to supply the lucrative global market. Not to mention that federal laws and structures that has prevented Ondo State from exploiting its Bitumen, which it has one of the world’s largest deposits. This is just one example of what most states are leaving to waste.
The inability of the federal government to pay the states will make them seek freedom from the center and true federalism will evolve. This will be the beginning of true economic and political freedom within the federation and it would grow exponentially over the next twenty years.
That’s the not so good news because the restructuring might not happen fast enough to prevent mass sackings, hunger and anarchy. The not so bad news is how international geopolitics might sabotage our best laid plans. The fight for global supremacy that has been brewing between Western imperialists and Eastern communists has been brought to the fore with the Corona Pandemic and the final conflict could be acted out in Nigeria, Africa’s economic and political heartland.
Following the Covid pandemic, the USA has been leaning on its Western business partners to cancel contracts with Chinese companies, like Huawei and Chinese construction and energy companies. Between 2000 and 2015, Nigeria was the highest recipient of China African investments with 440 projects followed by South Africa with 280 projects, with over 70 percent of Chinese investments in Africa being transport, energy and mining projects.
China’s single largest foreign investment was the now bungled $12b Lagos-Calabar railway due to Western pressures. With the post-Covid increased anti-China trade war, the West will influence the IMF, Paris and other debtor clubs to call in the loans made to Nigeria, in its attempt to shutdown China business.
Actually the Sino-USA cold war in Africa had been kicked off by Hilary Clinton that raised the alarm in 2010 over Chinese investment that was revitalizing the African economic scene since 1999. Trump from day one had insisted China was threat to White global supremacy.
With the Chinese opening the barriers to Ghana’s crude oil production, the Chinese attempt to link Southern Nigeria with the Lagos-Calabar railways to exponentially boost the economy, South Africa development programs, Kenyan’s railways, the West unable to compete financially resorted to inspiring a corruption propaganda and terrorist campaigns to embarrass the Chinese friendly African leaders out of offce. Only Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta survived.
Post Covid due to the fall in crude oil revenue, we would need to reschedule our debts. While we can renegotiate with China, the West will draw blood by insisting on aborting Chinese projects while not coming up with alternative development finance. The Eurobonds can’t be renegotiated and their repayments might be higher than all other Western and Chinese loans combined.
The West unable to help with cash infusions, will frown at Chinese help to sort our credit and liquidity problems. This will lead to a vicious anti-China colonization propaganda. Africa has about $30b outstanding Eurobonds debts which will be the source of a China-USA cold war since the West can’t come up with the money.
Rather than China’s debts, mainly based on commodity swap, being a tool of colonization, it is the Eurobonds that will be a tool of neocolonization as the West through IMF uses it to force African nations to follow its dictates. In Nigeria, it might lead to a proxy war, based on how political sensitive this issue as we see from the examples of Zambia and Sri Lanka, coupled with our overheated polity with Northern hegemons and Southern separatists used as pawns.
What is ahead for us can only be fully understood by what happened in Zambia, contrary to current perception of Chinese colonization. Especially as we see the hands of the likes of Senator Leahy, John Bolton and the Western establishment in the current massive anti-Chinese propaganda.
Zambia external debt stood at about $9b in 2019 – one third ($3b) in high fixed interest rates eurobonds, $3b to the West and $3b to the Chinese in mostly commodity swaps. In 2004, like Nigeria, Zambia went the privatization route, leading to 4 Western companies taking over its copper mines while without available finance the West deferred to their Saudi partners investment in its Zesco electricity company.
Hell broke lose when in 2015 Zambia tried in British courts to seek compensation and to revoke the copper mining agreement on its largest mine, with the biggest of the four, the British company Vedanta Resources. This was following ten years of bad business practices that included poisoning of the water supply of over 40, 000 villagers, irregular payments to local suppliers. Vedanta stalled the judgment by contesting jurisdiction while it delisted from the London stock exchange to avoid the $10b liability and immense pressure was brought on Zambia.
Like during Jonathan administration, when Western oil companies helr back their proceeds from the forex window, Western copper mining companies sabotaged Zambia’s efforts to repay its eurobonds while their Western allies Saudi stalled on cash infusion into Zesco. Zambia had no choice but to turn to China that infused cash to help the liquidity issues.
The Western geopolitical pressure started with a letter dated 3rd August 2018 by six USA senators led by David Perdue, Patrick Leahy, Ted Cruz compelling the US Departments of Treasury and State, Secretaries Mnuchin and Pompeo, to force IMF to act against Chinese infrastructural finance in countries like Zambia and Sri Lanka. On September 3rd, African Confidential, the British business intelligence magazine, started the unfounded rumors that the Chinese were taking over Zesco. This lie was adopted as official propaganda in John Bolton’s pronouncement of the new US foreign policy in Africa at Heritage Foundation on December 13th 2018 in response to the Senators August 3rd request. The US engaged in heavy disinformation campaign that China was planning the colonization of Zambia, Sri Lanka and the rest of Africa.
In the post Covid financial meltdown, the West would use the lack of crude oil revenue and inability to fulfill our eurobonds obligations to force us to cancel Chinese projects. The Buhari government sabotaged China’s foreign investment, the $12b Lagos-Calabar railway, eventually re-awarding it to GE USA that neither had the financial nor technical capabilities, before turning to Russia. It was hoped that the Nigeria government would resist the further Western pressure to stop other Chinese projects but this might not be the case with appointment of Prof Gambari to Aso Rock that will attempt to play both sides.
Post Covid, the Nigerian government has two choices – suck up to the West even though they want Buhari out or turn to China for help. The West has no money to give, so he would have to ignore the depressed economy and suffering, which might lead to anarchy, strikes and the West still sponsoring the regime change.
If he turns to China for financial relief and further infrastructural development to boost jobs and income, the Western propagandists will scream colonization, provoke economic and political instability through Southern separatists. Playing on political and religious sentiments, they would arm Southern separatists with the promise of nationhood, but which they have no intention of fulfilling, since with no access to the sea, the British are not willing to lose the North to the surrounding French colonial sphere.
Even though China normally shies away from Western confrontations or backing Sunni led governments that are normally traditional Western allies, in the post Covid environment whereby China has been squeezed out of Europe and the Americas, China will be forced to support the Nigerian government by giving it weapons o suppressed its insurgents.
The Afroasiatic government might use this to finish off what it couldn’t during the Civil War and Abacha regime, the decimation of Southern economic, political and cultural infrastructure, in the guise of fighting the separatists.
The divisive nature of the separatists prevents a unifed original African front that could muster 70% of Nigerians. The Middlebelt has categorically stated its support for the restructuring towards federalism but rejects separatism of its Original African cultural sphere that leaves it with the Afroasiatic North. So essentially it will be a tribal war against the federal government. A unified Southbelt platform for restructuring or separatism that includes the Middlebelt in one country with the South is not likely to attract Western backing and can only get support from China.
The Afroasiatic civilization being master strategists, seeing the writing on the wall, might either handover to Tinubu to hold onto a semblance of Islamic rule or totally succumb to Western demands and handover to Fayemi or an Igbo to pacify the loudest separatists, but without restructuring and keeping the status quo.
Like with the Haitian, Bolshevik and Chairman Mao revolutions, a third force might take the imperialists and local collaborators by surprise. The only surprise is if the Yoruba and Igbo political and cultural elites can unify the South and Middlebelt based on cultural linkages and a fair and justice perspective focused on rallying behind a 2023 pro-restructuring Igbo presidential candidate.
Most important is a focused collective discipline to prevent the repeat of past mistakes of the 250yr Oya cycle whereby the Original African leadership took foreign weapons to fight oppostion. The first time was in 1520s when all groups Yoruba, Edo, Igala, Akan took foreign weapons and plunged the subregion into an arms races that fueled trans Atlantic slavery. The second started in Oyo around 1770 with Bashorun Gaa and ended with Afonja leading to Fulani invasion, the Kiriji War that ended in British colonization.
The question is if we have raised our collective intelligence to see the big picture after 2 trials of 250 years intervals to understand that you fight as a civilization against bona-fide civilizations of the Europeans and Afroasians. It is time to know whether we are still emotional tribes pumped up with chants of Apes Obey to rush downhill into advanced military formations.