Feature: Peter Obi should be a member of the National Economic Council


By Ayo Akinfe


Were I in Bola Tinubu’s shoes I would appoint Peter Obi as the chair of my National Economic Council who I would give free reign to replicate South Korea’s policy of anything we don’t produce we don’t need

Ayo Akinfe

This is what my National Economic Council would look like were I the one being sworn-in on May 29:

[1] Peter Obi
[2] Pat Utomi
[3] Kingsley Moghalu
[4] Charles Soludo
[5] Arunma Oteh
[6] Kemi Adeosun
[7] Wale Edun
[8] Shamshudeen Usman
[9] Uzoma Dozie
[10] Lamido Sanusi

Their mandate would be to replicate this Korean manufacturing model:

[1] In South Korea, they have a national slogan – “Anything we do not make, we do not need.” Basically, what this means is they agreed as a people to cut their coats according to the size of their national cloth

[2] Contrary to the view of the pessimists that this would make South Korea a rural and peasant economy, the policy actually spurred them on to become a major manufacturer and producer. In 1945, South Korea’s economy was no more developed than that of Nigeria but today, South Korea is known for its spectacular rise from one of the poorest countries in the world to a developed, high-income economy in just a few generations. This economic growth is called by some a miracle, and described locally as the Miracle on the Han River

[3] Having almost no natural resources and always suffering from human overpopulation in its small territory, South Korea adapted an export-oriented economic strategy. By 2014, South Korea had become the seventh largest exporter in the world. They still need to buy a lot, so are the seventh largest importer in the world but they always make sure they sell more than they buy, so they always have a balance of trade surplus

[4] In 2017 for instance, South Korea exported goods that totalled $577.4bn. They have a total GDP of $1.65trn, so basically, about a third of all they produce goes to export

[5] At the epicentre of their economy is the national company Hyundai. Founded in 1967, Hyundai, along with its 32.8% owned subsidiary, Kia Motors and its 100% owned luxury subsidiary Genesis Motors, is the third largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. Do you know that Hyundai operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, which has an annual production capacity of 1.6m units. Worldwide, the company employs about 75,000 people

[6] Before their other national company Daewoo went bankrupt, South Koreans basically had a slogan that anything Hyundai and Daewoo could not make was surplus to requirements. These two companies were into everything, basically manufacturing every industrial good out there

[7] I have long argued that Nigeria needs about four or five industrial conglomerates to manufacture all our consumer goods. I would convert the NNPC into an industrial giant and then back it up with Dangote Industries, Innoson Motors, Transcorp International and Man of God PLC. This Man or God PLC would be the combined assets of all our evangelical churches. I believe that if they pooled all their resources together, they would be as formidable as the Catholic Church was in 19th century Europe. These five conglomerates would manufacture every single item under the sun if I had my way

[8] One of our biggest tragedies of Nigeria is that we consume a lot and produce too little. We love luxury cars, private jets and Gucci handbags but produce none of them. How many Nigerian ladies ever say to themselves: “Rather than keep buying Lui Vitton handbags, I want to actually establish a rival brand to compete in the Nigerian market?

[9] We live in a society where the modest are ridiculed and derided and we then complain when corruption thrives. We cannot have it both ways. If we define ourselves by how much we consume, we cannot then complain when people go about amassing wealth by any means necessary. Be the change you want to see!

[10] Today, we could easily manufacture cars, motorcycles, oil rigs and shipping vessels in Nigeria if we were serious about it. We should do that on one hand, while on the other, luxury goods like private jets, Gucci bags, Luis Vitton handbags, lavish Dubai parties, etc need to go. We have no moral right to complain about the poor state of Nigerian tourism if rather than patronise it we dash off to Dubai to hold lavish bashes rather than hold them in Lagos, Abuja, Uyo or Calabar. Vanity breeds corruption!


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