A true democracy thrives on the wellbeing of its citizens, writes Dayo Sobowale

A BRICS summit of nations is going on in South Africa right now. Nigeria and Iran are two of the nations who have applied to join the group which from its acronym is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. All the leaders of the group are expected to attend physically except Vladimir Putin, president of Russia who will be present  virtually  because he is busy prosecuting the invasion of Ukraine and there is an international warrant for his arrest on account of that by the International Criminal Court  of Justice. Similarly ECOWAS, the community of West African  nations led by Nigeria has rejected the time table given by the coup plotters in a member state, Niger  Republic, who have seized power and have defied the seven-day ultimatum  given them to relinquish power or face military action. The prospects and potentiality of these two events of these  two regional and geopolitical zones in world politics , form the focus of our discussion today.

Undoubtedly, security, especially the safety of life and property of citizens in their territories bring sovereign nations together in securing the welfare of such citizens. Trade. especially international trade is a huge facilitator of that,  because it creates the commonwealth as well as national wealth which, if equitably distributed amongst citizens, assures the peace and socio – political stability of the  nation state or any geopolitical group. The global imbalance of  globalization and before it colonialism and neocolonialism gave birth to the likes of geopolitical bodies like ECOWAS and BRICS regardless of the ideological content, history and posture of the member states of these two regional  bodies today. In effect  these two alliances are seeking to put more food on the tables of their citizens by any means and in any way, because they are fed up by the way globalization, made up of selling democracy, liberalisation and marketisation  by the US and EU/NATO nations to the rest of the world, has failed to  put more, if not any food, on the tables of their  citizens thereby ultimately creating failed states especially in former colonial states like Somalia and of lately Sudan.

On the larger global scene, the US and NATO regard China and Russia as their rivals for world power seeking to oust  western economic dominance, values and replace representative democracy with one party states. Yet western cultural values and morals have changed in such a wild way. E specially with the present Biden government and the stated   socio-political values of the EU member states which idolizes the rights of the LGBTQ community at the expense of established global values of respect for the family,  the importance of the nuclear family and marriage being intrinsically between a man and a woman. It is instructive  that members of BRICS mostly reject such gay rights and even in the EU, Hungary  and Poland are putting their foot down on the matter .

 With regard to ECOWAS nations Christianity and Islam are the major religions and Nigeria has a 14 -year jail term for gays and lesbians. In fact the major factor impeding ECOWAS  military intervention in Niger on account of the coup is religion as the coup plotters have been seen to be more  receptive and respectful of  peace visits by religious leaders than with diplomatic delegations even from the US. The failure of western leadership and values in the matter is well demonstrated by the fast way western nations led by the UK and Germany evacuated their families from Niger  immediately the coup was successful. Yet, without Russia saying anything officially, and without any meaningful presence, the now well -known and  Russian funded Wagner  mercenaries are being touted as ready to support the coup plotters . Even with the presence of French troops stationed in Niamey as of the well- known policy of France in Francophone post – colonial Africa.

Let us look at the leadership of both BRICS and ECOWAS. At the Brics meeting today Putin will be absent and that puts the leadership responsibility on China’s Xi  and India’s Mordi. This is the first time that XI would travel after covid. While China is sabre rattling with the US over Taiwan it has economic problems of its own such that it has stopped publishing some crucial statistics on growth and its demographics show that birth rates are falling which is worrying.  But China has just claimed the first position from Greece is the largest ship building nation in the world and most of the world’s trade flows on the oceans and high seas .  China is rich in cement and is building infrastructure like railways, ports and airports around the world. Its Road Belt Initiative  is building railways to link China with Europe. In Nigeria its presence is very much present across the Lagoon and the railways leading from Lagos through Mile 2 to Badagry . In addition the Brics nations are planning on trading in their nations’ currencies and jettisoning the US dollar. This has given the former US president the campaign ammunition to say that America  is  falling like the dollar globally under the present Biden government.

 With Russia at war in Ukraine, China is the arrow  head of the BRICS economic and global  challenge  to the US global  economic globalization . Which has turned the world to a global village presided  over by US economic and ideological  dominance of its brand  of democracy and IMF conditionality for giving loans to developing nations on conditions that do not take into consideration the socio political cost of repaying such loans .

Such IMF conditionalities have crippled many African  economies. Just as the old  African  colonial economy was structured to supply or  export  raw materials to the governing colonial states and compel  colonies to buy  or import finished  products from the  same colonial  government state , colonial  infrastructure especially  the railways were designed to milk the colonies dry of their natural resources . In the case of ECOWAS nations,  these  resources were cocoa , groundnut , timber ,rubber . The  modern and perfidious equivalent of that in  Nigeria is the exportation of crude oil and the importation of refined petroleum and the requirement that Nigeria  will  purchase that import at the price of the currency of the buyer of the raw material ,  which is crude oil . It is because the socio political cost of pump petrol will breed unrest that fuel subsidy came in .  Repayment  of Nigeria’s  scandalous  debt   to IMF is  based  on the   devaluation of the   naira   and  since the  Obasanjo   debt   forgiveness  effort ,   the  debt  rate has skyrocketed  such that 90%  of   our earnings are  for   debt repayment .   It is like jumping into  a precipice with our   eyes   wide open  Now  that fuel  subsidy  ‘is gone ‘ there  is urgent need to do the needful for government to intervene and fix the price of petrol . Just like Kenya did after riots against the rising price of petrol with its attendant high cost of living and crushing of the purchasing power of the poverty- stricken electorate at large. A true democracy thrives on its belly and the wellbeing of its citizens and that is the lesson that ECOWAS leaders must learn and imbibe urgently even as they proceed rightly to prevent soldiers in Niger from subverting the rule of law.

Sobowale is of Arise News

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