COVID-19, a blessing to low-income countries ― Prof. Akinyemi


Former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has said the COVID-19 pandemic period should be seen as a blessing to medium and low-income countries including Nigeria.

Akinyemi who stated this during the convocation lecture of the Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) 11th convocation, titled: “New World Order: a post-COVID-19 world” said the pandemic had helped to check the financial recklessness of politicians through estacodes, medical tourism, parties and other unfruitful ventures

He noted that contrary to beliefs that the pandemic had disrupted the universe, or abolished the world structure he maintained that it has helped to restructure and narrow the gaps within the structure in certain aspects.

Akinyemi, who appealed to government to invest massively on research and development, noted that the pandemic has collapsed the gaps between superpowers and lower powers in some areas, urging the latter to take advantage of the global situation to redefine their position in the world map.

“For example, the lack of drugs to address the issue meant that there was no difference between superpower and a failed state in not being able to cope with the pandemic.

“The insufficiency in all cases of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and total lack of the same in some cases, obliterated the world structure as we know it.”

Akinyemi, who was the Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference, posited that several countries stepped up from an internationalist mode to a nationalist and monopoly mode.

He noted that countries like the US, Britain, Russia, Germany and China curtailed air travels, exports of essential medical supplies and other essential products.

Speaking on how to square up with the developed nations, he said, “medium-income countries could change the structure of the paradigm here in the sense that they could and should become active participants in the industrial process.

“It provides an opportunity for the medium and the low-income countries to become industrial countries by concentrating on the production of import-substituted goods, and export value-added goods.”

He advised government at all levels to make the major economic sectors privately driven, warning that the low and medium-income countries should prevent the narrative of being presented as a parasitic addendum to the world order.

Akinyemi lamented over the negative effects of COVID-19 on democracy, noting that the various lockdown measures by the government have led to a huge loss of human rights.

He also lamented that there is a possibility that governments may make vaccination compulsory for travels and access to other social benefits.

“Finally, the need for development, especially, in developing countries, may pit the dictates of democracy against the dictates of democracy.”

Speaking on brain drain and search for greener pastures abroad among professionals, the guest lecturer predicted that a period would come when the Nigerian government will be focused, saying those who had travelled overseas would return with their wealth of experience to develop the nation.

“Don’t discourage your children, your lecturers from going abroad. They will acquire skills and knowledge, and they all come back to develop Nigeria.”

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