The morning of August 15, 2007 brought every one to a jolt; I had actually shunned the dailies because I was having a recording session with a client for a couple of days now, though I later heard the news when I was out on a stroll and checked in on the newsstand. For me, it brought a confirmation I needed- we are on the verge of hitting in on a capitalist system. Nigeria is about to become an international market haven for Africa and the world. Even though I am not an economist, I had been trying to understand the direction in which the policies of the FG was moving, how to position myself and likewise, what happens to the middle class and the common man of the street.
Under socialism and communism, economic decisions and property were national and publicly owned. However, over the past few years we have been witnessing with our transition to large scale capitalism, with the privatization of almost all basic industries, energy, mining, communications, infrastructure and wholesale trade industries have been taken over by European and multi-national corporations and by political capitalist billionaires. This kind of economic system will foster the emergence and performance of capitalist politicians, privatizations, competitive quality products and other restoration measures on the economy, and the improvement of the general welfare of the population. Capitalism breeds an internally and externally stable economic system that allows the market forces to dictate policy shifts, which is consistent with most international states. It also prepares a level playing ground for individual expression, open competition and diversity – which I believe depends on freedom of expression, access to information, and education.
This situation depicts Darwin’s explanation of the survival of the fittest. People understand that life is not fair – there’s no “free lunch”. You have to work to survive and only the “lucky” who have positioned themselves within the socio-economic matrix can make it to the top. For there will be two major polarities; the rich, the poor and a small section, the comfortable average. Because of the inequality of wealth in a Capitalist society with little Government welfare interventions, great poverty will occur. This will result in the collapse of the middle class, thus causing a great economic divide between the rich and the poor. This will lead to massive income for the super rich, rise in unemployment and temporary employment of the “unfittest”, homelessness, slums, localization of disease, etc. Forced migration will also increase these problems in large cities and towns (ask Lagos and Abuja administrators!).
The truth is that the world has unconsciously embraced the idea of capitalism and Nigeria is positioning itself to gain maximally from this thrust, thus these policy changes are necessary to create a platform for international trade- the redenomination of the naira is a fallout of this. Change is an undeniable fact of life, and those who lead and rule the economy have learned to take advantage of the situation. The story was once told of two friends who took advantage of the great depression of the 1930s in the US. At that time lots of people were losing jobs, people were selling all they had to make a living. They decided to discover what part they will play to succeed amidst changing times. While discussing one day, it came into their minds that a lot of people were selling all they had to make some money to earn a living, why not buy? With some amount of money, they decided to generate money by working as presenters in a radio station. Thus they began to buy lands in bits from clients, houses and hotels, then hotel and hotels…today that is the history of how one of America’s largest networks of hotels, Hilton hotels was born.
Actually, it is an insult to the intellect to say that the war, the survival of the fittest has begun; it did a long time ago-but the reality is more glaring. As discussed in the advantages of Capitalism the consumer has all the power in the economy. However individuals’ purchasing power will drastically be unequal because of the inequality of wealth within the economy. This is due to the fact that some people will always be able to work harder, be more innovative and be more talented than others, and therefore be more profitable and promote themselves higher in the economy whilst others will fail. The race towards being the financial hub of Africa has begun and lots of individuals are repositioning themselves already. Where and how we position ourselves to ensure we are not swept away, is left to us and our creative juices. Dateline 2010: which part of the divide will you be?