After a life time of being disappointed by governments in Africa and their ineffectiveness in lifting Africans out of poverty as done on other continents, I chose to become a libertarian as the foundation of my economic thoughts. I celebrated this by writing an article titled, LIBERTARIANISM NIGERIA’S UNWRITTEN ECONOMIC POLICY. This has been in circulation for a decade but I seem to remain the only libertarian in Nigeria. With the passage of time, I am more than ever convinced that the policies of libertarianism can be used to successfully address the developmental goals and needed transformation of the continent. It can act as a panacea to Africa’s developmental issues. This article is written to show how libertarianism defined as minimal government meddling in economic life, would bring direct benefits to the continent.
This article is also about adopting pragmatic economics as history has shown that pragmatism delivers. For example, Japan’s economic recovery after the Second World War was aided by a strong dose of central guidance as to where to direct the scarce hard currencies under the auspices of their Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) yet under American capitalism. Also Chinese renaissance and overtaking Japan as second largest economy was done under capitalist market forces under the Communists Party of China. I am pre-empting the communism capitalist ideological debate. Just plain pragmatic tools to move the African union irresponsible Agenda 2063, so so far away, to a more urgent Agenda 2033 or 2043.
CURBING CORRUPTION: This is a direct consequence and benefit of libertarianism, because orruption is fueled by government largesse that comes from government expenditure, remember Nigerian government has been declared the worst spender in the world. Libertarianism will take the oxygen out of corruption or put in another way, wean the corruption-addicted politicians and career government officials off their fix as done to addicts in rehab. This time government officials, bureaucrats and politicians are the addicts and the money they claim to spend for us is the abused substance and they literally consume it. Remember most government services and functions can be and are being provided by individuals in the private sector and informal sector. The few exceptions being armed forces, police, administration of justice, law and order. Even in these areas we have alternatives such as vigilante groups, neighborhood watch in policing the society. Traditional rulers also hold court to administer justice. Currently the integrity of our justice system has been questioned and doubted. Steps will be taken to emphasize and increase self-discipline and self-policing over imposed policing.
By adopting libertarianism what happens in the ‘fight against corruption’ is that we will be PREVENTING CORRUPTION rather than fighting it with EFCC or ICPC after the horse has bolted. By now it should be obvious to us that FIGHTING CORRUPTION is a losing battle, as in disease management it is always better and more effective to prevent an ailment than to treat it.
SEPARATION OF ECONOMICS FROM POLITICS: Libertarianism will separate and insulate the economy and pure business decisions from politics and politicians. Projects will be sited not by political balancing but purely on economic viability basis. Manning of vital businesses will no longer be by federal character. Take a look at federal businesses and parastatals, Ajaokuta Steel, Aluminium smelter ALSCON, several refineries, just to name a few, all laid prostrate by politics. Even education is said to have been destroyed to allow the North to catch up.
Let’s compare, while in Nigeria our developmental dreams were pinned on government owned parastatals, in South Korea they achieved their transformation from third world to first world within a generation by use of individuals in the private sectors, the likes of Daewoo, Hyundai, LG and Samsung. That is the difference. Find me 50 Dangotes for Africa rather than the 55 governments to deliver the transformation of the continent.
CROWDING OUT OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE FINANCIA SECTOR: The financial sector both local and international, love to lend to government because they believe government unlike individuals cannot default. They perceive lending to government carries lower risk than lending to the private sector, invariably big government is crowding out private individuals from the financial sector and contributing to the rentier behavior of our banks. Why lend to a business that can fail when government doesn’t fail. As we practise minimal government government borrowing should fall and the banks are forced to finance the private sector to remain in business. This is a positive consequence of libertarianism.
INFLUX OF FOREIGN INVESTORS: Libertarian posture would attract higher foreign investments into a nation that accepts the policy, leading to more industries, more infrastructure, more jobs and rapid poverty eradication (possible in a generation of twenty-five years). Business persons will see and deliver more than bureaucrats or career politicians even in welfare sectors like health, education and security. Investors will see more profitable opportunities than that dictated by government bureaucrats. The removal of the PUBLIC in PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP and allowing for 100% conceptualization and private ownership will open a floodgate of investors both local and foreign as happened in telecoms industry and in the United States of the 19th century.
This goes for acquisition of all infrastructural services as well. This mental posture must change. Operating now is a “government sitting on its high horse and deciding which project to concession” to a partner and still wanting to call the shots. Concessions are given and then withdrawn. Signing an agreement with government counts for little as such agreements are torn when a new administration comes. A liber policy means government getting off its high horse and liberalizing the provision of infrastructural services from power to communication to transportation.
TRUE LIBERATION: Libertarian posture addresses the core crisis of the African race which is, I believe, the retention and sustenance of a slavish mentality. I wrote an article on this inspired by Bob Marley’s words “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery….none but ourselves can free our minds!” Libertarianism nurtures a free can do spirit, can go anywhere spirit in opposition to the dependency psycho-cultural spirit and slavish mentality that currently afflicts the peoples of African descent. An extreme libertarian does not expect the divine to do any other thing for him. He appreciates that God has put in man his creative spirit. Stemming from this is an abhorrence of governments doing this and government doing that. He becomes a freedom hugging citizen and vehemently opposes government intervention in people’s affairs. It is on this spirit Americans left the Latin American countries behind & later overtook Europe. You can see this spirit in George Bissel, initiator of the global petroleum industry, the Wright brothers in flight and Elon Musk adventuring to planet Mars. This spirit is so rigorously entwined in the DNA of the Americans unlike we Africans…….NONE BUT OURSELVES CAN FREE OUR MINDS.
Olugbenga Jaiyesimi 08123709109 email@example.com