Towards a proper use of foreign reserve in the new Nigeria

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foreign reserve

How will people regard a man who brags about his increasing bank-account balance, while his children are hungry, sick, uneducated and unemployed? He gets happy by checking the growth of his account balance instead of investing in his children or other businesses. Since the bankers know the size of his account balance, they continuously advertise goods, services and programs for him to patronize. Apart from carelessly spending on advertised goods and services, the bankers steadily deduct service-charges and do not pay him savings interest. Without understanding the purpose of national savings and investment, efforts to increase Nigerian foreign reserve will remain an economic leakage.


Banks and insurance companies were formed to respond to the unpredictability of events in nature, society and personal human life. Cautious people set aside percentages of their earnings to cater for unforeseen circumstances from disasters, sicknesses or other accidents. The reservation of these percentages does not stop people from maintaining and improving their normal economic or social lifestyle. While some people reserve percentile-earnings as security, other people invest their percentile-earning in other businesses for constant profit. Like private citizens do, governments and nations take precaution by having foreign reserve in financial or productive institutions.


Different Nigerian governments grade their success by how much they met and left in the foreign reserve. Being a country of brutally merged and mismanaged ethnic communities,[1] Nigeria depends on sale of crude oil in the Niger-Delta for income. The crude-oil-dependent economy pretends to diversify source of income by seeking more mineral resources to sell and seeking more oil in the north. Afterwards, Nigerian governments brag about increasing foreign reserve, after servicing foreign-debts, administrative salaries, imported goods and infrastructure, and no technological productivity.


Developed countries are rich because of their ability to technologically utilize natural resources for solving human problems. Underdeveloped countries are poor because of their inability to utilize their natural resources technologically for producing what they need. Presently, underdeveloped countries depend on the developed for ‘all’ technological needs in communication, transport, health, feeding, power, governance, entertainment and luxury. Hence, by stocking their foreign reserve, Nigeria and other underdeveloped countries slightly postpone their importation of fast-depreciating goods.


Economic growth is not calculated by the dormant balance lodged in an account over a period, but by the frequency of significant turnover in response to viable economic activities. Nobody grows rich by lodging his money in the account[2] or countries as foreign reserve. Instead, people grow rich by investing resources in ventures that have potentials of growth. The first factor of economic growth is a human being, who has been trained to convert resources to useful products and services. All the technological manifestations of jets, cars, mansions, gadgets, internet, drugs and machines come from human beings who have been trained to convert resources to products and services.


Hence, the use of foreign reserve account balance as a measure of good governance is a waste of human intelligence. However, the underdeveloped countries will eventually organize and train their citizens to technologically utilize natural resources for solving their problems. If they store those excess resources in foreign institutions, they can as well use it to develop the productive capacity of their people. Thus, instead of stocking the foreign reserves in expectation of consumerist finished goods, they will invest in organizing and educating their people to collaborate for technological productivity.


[1] S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria, edited by Hassan A. Saliu (Ilorin: T. A. Olayeri publishers, 1999) p57

[2] Cf. Richest man in Babylon