POLITICAL ECONOMY AND CROSS BORDER CRISIS AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF ECOWAS MEMBER STATES (A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA)
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The end of the cold war saw the emergence of a new phenomenon in the society – the phenomenon of transnational or cross border crisis with its dimensions and threat to global peace and security. The dimensions and momentum of cross border crisis have increased with the emergence of globalization.
The phenomenon of globalization encompasses the growing internationalization of financial, industrial and commercial capital, but it also makes threats transnational and heightens the feeling of insecurity of the planets inhabitation (Ortuno 2009).
Current global trends such as the growing interdependence between states and the opening of borders, which exist alongside socio-economic, cultural, legal and political inequalities, facilitate the activities of transnational criminal groups.
The international economic crisis spawned by the financial crisis of 2008, has had a number of consequences some of which are unemployment, a drop in remittances, a fall in both the volume and price of exports, less direct foreign investment and a downward trend in tourism. As more people are working in the informal sector, others have joined organized crime networks.
Available literature on trans-border crime shows that no region of country of the world is speared of this phenomenon. For instance (Maetens 2007) argued that the problems of crime and violence – the drug trade and trafficking in weapons and others are factors that make the Caribbean countries and their economics most vulnerable.
The seriousness of these problems have necessitated governments of this region to explore innovative policy responses at both national and regional levels. The concern is to come out with approaches to address crime and violence in the region.
Ntuli (2000) in his study of Somopho region of South Africa, found out that the Somopho area is fraught with problems of high unemployment levels and lack of physical infrastructure. These have affected the level of criminality in this area and ahs affected also community development. The high level of unemployment and poverty provide the basis and excuse for the youth to take to drugs and other crimes in the society.
Ntuli (2000) point was echoed by Demombynes and Ozler 2010 both of whom maintained that the growing level of criminality in South Africa may in future likely discourage investment and stifle long term growth and economic development. The concern is that there are so many socio-economic problems such as poverty and inequality, corruption and high level of crimes in the society, these have the tendency of impacting negatively on South Africa’s economy.
Similarly, Kalu (2010) contended that developing countries, especially in Africa, present a peculiar dimension in security demands as a result of poverty, unemployment, hunger, and increased belligerency among component entities that make up the continent.
The activities of rebel groups, trans-border criminals, kidnappers, arm-smugglers, cultists and other social misfits add up to the tension that has characterized life on the continent and specifically the West African sub-region.
The situation has become more eerie when the issue of demented persons such as serial killers, rapists, drug-abusers, child-kidnappers, prostitutes, ritual killers and paradopiles are taken into consideration. These wide range of crimes constitute social nuisance to the West African sub-region and indeed Africa.
Arising from the argument above, issues of defence and security are salient to sustainable development and national survival. Creating national security awareness has been identified as a new policy initiative to address the diverse nature of instability and insecurity in Nigeria and the West African sub-region (Akinsanmi 2007).
Also, Jobe (2010) identified the youths as persons that are at the centre of criminality in the region. Nigeria as one of the ECOWAS member state has long been a case of interest for the study of political and economic development. The country is a great example of a post-colonial developing nation and its developmental history contains very important lessons on the political and economic retardation of the developing world.
The operations and activities of the colonial authorities had no potential for stimulating economic development. For instance, British colonial “development” of indigenous palm produce industry was designed to meet increased demand by the international economy for vegetable oils for industrial use (Njoku, 1998).
By 1960 when Nigerian gained her political independence, the production of crude oil had changed the dynamics of the Nigerian political economy. Oil production is now the mainstay of the economy. According to Luqman and Lawal (2011) hardly could anything be written about the political economy of Nigeria without reference to its history of oil production.
While the oil industry remains the mono-economic fulcrum of the Nigerian economy, its contribution to development and improvement of the living standards of Nigerians remain doubtful. Nigeria has embarked on a plethora of post colonial developmental plans which equally have not achieved its desired objectives as stated in the second national development plan.
This unpleasant situation can not augur well in the development of a stable political and economic institution necessary for building a strong and successful nation. The ECOWAS stakeholders’ forum on youth policy was seen as a step in the right direction.
The forum was on building capacity of youth stakeholders, particularly youth organizations on the implementation of the ECOWAS youth policy. Young people have the potentials which should be channel or harnessed more appropriately toward productive ventures instead of engaging in criminality or criminal activities.
The argument is that a well equipped, knowledgeable, disciplined and sophisticated crop of young people in our countries and the sub-region will not only guarantee sustained socio-economic development but will also assured us that the desires of the founders of ECOWAS on the ideals of sub-regional integration can be achieved with time.
Today, and as seen in the brief literature presented above, organized crime has diversified and extended beyond borders, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of institutions, jeopardizing criminal justice systems, violating human rights and corrupting political leaders. This paper examines political economy and cross border crisis and socio-economic development of ECOWAS member states.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Cross border crimes have slowed down growth and development rates in which most West African nations should attain globalization and free trade zones have numerous advantages to an economy-either capitalist or mixed. These benefits are enjoyed when due processes and legal activities between countries are carried out.
However, in areas with some restrictions in trade, high unemployment rates, high poverty rates as often witnessed in most developing nations, the reverse is the case. Revenue realizable from most products smuggled in and out of the nation is enough to build schools, good roads and other social amenities in Nigeria.
Cross border criminal activities in West Africa straddle weak borders into specific geographical location in affected countries where state capacity to respond to the threat and challenges posed by these illegal activities is equally weak.
The smuggling of goods, especially cocoa, timber, ivory and petroleum products across national borders is most prevalent along Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Burkina Faso corridors of the sub-region.Cross border crimes are increasingly becoming sophisticated by each passing day with devastating consequences on the economies of countries, particularly Third World countries.
The tendency is that, these crimes affect monies available to government to provide basic amenities for the poor. These basic amenities may include medical or health facilities, education, housing, income and the provision of other infrastructural facilities like road electricity, water and others.
Ordinary business men, women and sometimes rebels and criminal gangs are involved in the smuggling of these and other products. These goods are smuggled in vehicles or on foot, using secret and illegal routes across the borders to evade special regulations, levies or taxes, thereby making more income through the cross border action of these products.
For instance Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast were named and shamed for allegedly fuelling the illegal Ivory Trade. Having largely wiped out their own elephant population, the three countries were believed to be importing and selling tonnes of ivory which had been poached in nearby countries.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine political economy and cross border crisis and socio-economic development of ECOWAS member states. Other specific objectives of the study include;
- To examine the nature and scale of cross border crisis in the West African sub-region.
- To examine the social and economic effects of cross border crisis on political economy of developing economies.
- To examine the impact of political economy and cross border crisis on socio-economic development of Nigeria
- To examine appropriate strategies for dealing with issues of cross border crime and enhanced socio-economic development of Nigeria.
- To examine the relationship between political economy, cross border crisis and socio-economic development of Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study shall analyze the nature of cross border crimes and elucidate its effect on the socio-economy of ECOWAS member states. This study would help suggest ways of building a vibrant and sound economy by reducing the increase in criminal activities.
This work will investigate and appraise cross border crimes and its effect on the economy of Nigeria. It shall provide a significant source of information for security analyst and law enforcement professionals as well as the general public.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to political economy and cross border crisis and socio-economic development of ECOWAS member states.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
CROSS BORDER CRIME: Cross border crime represent a number of illegal and notorious activities carried out by individuals and groupsacross national and international borders, eitherfor financial or economic benefits and also socio political or religious considerations.
It is a setof criminal acts whose perpetrators and repercussions go beyond territorial borders. These would include human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, arms smuggling or trafficking of weapons, cross-border terrorism, illegal oil bunkering, illicit trafficking in diamonds, corruption, business fraud, to mention but a few.
MONEY LAUNDRY:Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financialcross borderactions to conceal the identity, source, or destination of illegally gained money. It could also be defined as the process oftaking any action with property of any formwhich is either wholly or in part the proceeds ofa crime that will disguise the fact that that property is the proceeds of a crime or obscure thebeneficial ownership of said property
DRUG TRAFFICKING DEFINED:Drug trafficking typicallyrefers to the possession of an illegal drug in apredetermined commercial quantity.
ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States. This is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28th may 2007.
SOCIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: this is a process that seeks to identify both the social and the economic needs within a community and seeks to create strategies that would address those needs in a way that are practical and in the best interest of the community over the long run.
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