Sept. 8, 2013
Why Nigerians’ hopes and wrong choices are intertwined with ours
By Donald B Kipkorir
Except where a defined indigenous group speaks same language, all other boundaries are artificial and need to come down. I support open-door policy on immigration giving unqualified and unrestricted entry to foreigners unless they are convicted criminals or engage in criminal activities. Our Government, therefore, did salutary work in deporting one Anthony Chinedu and cohorts. But it seems over-zealous civil servants and police want to deport all Nigerians from Kenya. We must tread carefully lest we trip, if not fall. We could think we are pulling the trigger on Nigerians, but the barrel could be pointing back at us.
Nigeria though only nearly twice the size of Kenya, has more than four times our population. Our exports valued at paltry $6B are dwarfed by Nigeria’s $92B. Basically, if Nigeria were compared to a shopping mall, our economy is a roadside kiosk. Nigeria’s immense oil wealth and highly literate population is undermined by its deeply flawed political system, entrenched tribalism and cancerous corruption. CIA warns that Nigeria will implode by 2015 or thereabouts. Before then, we need Nigeria more than they need us. US, the world’s largest economy by a big margin, has 75 per cent of its GDP contributed to by domestic consumers. When the world economy tanked at the turn of this Century, Americans spent their way out of it through a $787B economic stimulus plan.
Kenya’s middle class which swings between being rich and poor is less than 16 per cent of our population. Such a fickle group is not big enough to stimulate and sustain our economy. Prof Sadullah Çelik of Marmara University, Turkey, in his paper “The Importance Of Consumption Index As A Leading Economic Indicator In The Emerging Market: The Case Of Turkey”, and Masahiko Nakazawa, Director, Econometric Analysis, Japan’s Ministry of Finance, in his paper “Domestic-Demand-Led Economic Growth: Japan’s Lessons Learned”, have argued in near similar lines that Turkey now and Japan in its heyday economic boom, were spurred by strong domestic consumerism. In the absence of a strong and permanent middle class, Kenya needs Nigerians who are known for being big spenders. When Nigerians visit our upscale bars and restaurants, they buy literally all the moët & chandon in stock. If we allow a million Nigerians to settle in Kenya, and give them confidence to invest, they will surely cause our housing and retail market to grow. The Chinese we have allowed, stay in dormitories, and don’t buy anything local. Infact, the only legacy of the Chinese will be brown children with small eyes born by Wambui on Thika Road! One million Nigerians will never overwhelm us. After all, America is built on the backs of immigrants.
As for the few Nigerians who are criminals and have dragged Nigeria’s name through the sewer, we have the law to deal with them.
Organised crime, whether at village, national or transnational level, is a scourge that must be fought with all resources available. Organised crime is a structured group of outlaws who basically engage in but not exclusively in money-laundering, drug trafficking, prostitution rackets, gambling, counterfeits, gun-running and cyber-crime. Being outlaws, they resolve their disputes by extra-judicial processes like murder and abductions. Luckily, we have enacted, The Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, 2010, and The Proceeds Of Crime & Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009, to give our Government sufficient legal tools to deal with organised crime. And Nigeria is in Africa. Inspite of its weakness as aforesaid, Nigeria is still our big brother. Jubilee led by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto ran its campaign and won on a Pan-Africanist platform. Repeatedly, I have argued that we cannot afford to dump the West for China. China is like a well-fed child wearing shiny shoes with no trousers. Its poor are still more than the entire population of Africa. With its growth rate now going below 8 per cent, China will run out of steam soon. Whichever choices we make, we cannot severe Africa where we belong. With all its beauty spots and ugly warts, Africa is our continent. Nigeria is emblematic of our hopes, dreams and wrong choices. We can deport other Chinedus, but we cannot deport Nigeria. The two are mutually exclusive.
— The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.
The article was originally posted on StandardDigital on July 27th, 2013