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On Nigeria and BRICS

The 15th summit of the BRICS group of countries took place amidst great expectations regarding the place of the group in the emerging world order.…

The 15th summit of the BRICS group of countries took place amidst great expectations regarding the place of the group in the emerging world order.

BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was established in 2001, with the first four as BRIC and after South Africa joined in 2010, it became known as BRICS.

The idea of the group was formulated by Jim O’Neil, a chief economist at investment bank, Goldman Sachs, from a study on the global economic, financial and business potential of the emerging economies outside of the United States of America (USA), Japan, Germany and France. The conclusion of the study led to the belief that with their huge populations collectively and their rapid growth in Gross Domestic Product, in the not distant future, the emerging countries will make a credible claim to controlling a large chunk of the global economy.

Ever since its formation, the BRICS has been growing steadily and its appeal and influence as an alternative forum on global political and economic issues have gained ground considerably.

This is borne out by numbers. According to World Bank figures, the BRICS countries have a combined population of 3.24 billion persons, making about 41 per cent of the world’s population and a GDP of 27.649 trillion dollars collectively which constitutes about 24 per cent of the global GDP. Collectively, BRICS countries also account for about one-fifth of the global economy. 

In his address at the summit which his country hosted, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, remarked that the world “requires a fundamental reform of the global financial institutions so that they can be more agile and responsive to the challenges facing developing countries.’’

This much is captured in one of the fundamental objectives of BRICS which aims at “Strengthening political discourse and coordination on international issues, such as modifying institutions of global governance to take into account the shifting global economic landscape and to provide rising economies with a stronger voice and representation.’’

Indeed one of the main platforms of the BRICS, the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) which offers hope for developing countries to get a fair deal on their economic prospects and expectations, reflects this objective.

An indication of the growing influence of BRICS was in the invitation extended to six new countries, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Ethiopia to join the group. We congratulate these countries on their successful quest to join BRICS which will no doubt help to strengthen the group in attaining its objectives.

This development not only further reflects BRICS diversity as it comprises countries from all the continents; it also underscores the group’s claims as an alternative platform for constructing a new world order.

Nigeria was represented at the summit by Vice President Kashim Shettima who must have seen for himself the opportunities and prospects that BRICS offers for Nigeria’s quest for economic development under President Tinubu’s administration. This has prompted a lively debate on why Nigeria has not made efforts to join the organization.  Those who have argued in favour of Nigeria joining BRICS, say, with the presence of emerging economic and military powerhouses – Russia, China and India as main drivers – the organisation provides a veritably constructive platform for alternative economic development for countries such as Nigeria.

But germane as this position is, we must recommend circumspection on the part of Nigeria, on the matter of whether to join BRICS or not. As yet despite its glowing statement of intentions and objectives, there are no formal structures or bureaucracy dedicated to actualizing its stated aims. For instance, there are as yet no structural mechanisms for disbursing financial assistance and technological transfer between the more developed countries of BRICS and those of comparatively lower capacity in the organization. Indeed we cannot help but observe that in the glaring absence of these formal structures, BRICS as presently constituted functions more as an instrument for attaining the foreign economic and strategic objectives of China and Russia; its two main drivers.

As a country with considerable weight and influence in Africa, Nigeria must exercise caution before joining BRICS. Indeed part of this evaluation must also include a deep consideration of other emerging organizations with similar intentions and objectives as BRIC. We have in mind here the MINT group, which has Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey. In terms of cultural, economic and political outlook and objectives, MINT countries have close affinities to Nigeria which in many respects offers an opportunity to secure for us better terms of economic and cultural interaction and development. 

In the context of contemporary global political and economic development, BRICS is certainly an unstoppable idea. But prominent as it is, BRICS is one of the many initiatives to rejig the global political and economic architecture to conform to emerging realities. For Nigeria specifically, it offers an opportunity to be part of ongoing constructive efforts by countries around the world to build a new global order. It certainly offers a vista for Nigeria to seek new platforms to actualize its economic development agenda under favourable conditions.

Accordingly, while in this context BRICS is a good idea, it is by no means the only one Nigeria should consider.

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