By Olayinka Ajayi
Chief Sanjay Jain is the President, Indian Cultural Association, a body of Indians in Nigeria. In this chat, he stresses the need for separatists to shun their agenda among other issues. Excerpts:
How will you evaluate Charitable projects initiated by Indians in Nigeria?
It been great and we are glad that we are touching lives in unimaginable ways. We have supplied over 80,000 artificial limbs for Nigerians suffering from limb loss nationwide. We import these limbs from India to help Nigerians. We make contributions through our Rotary engagements in Nigeria. We have assisted more than 100 public schools with boreholes for potable water in Lagos State.
How then will evaluating the economy and the mode of doing business in Nigeria as seperatists groups insist on division of each ethnicity?
The level of growth in Nigeria is the reason we place emphasis on lots of charitable projects. We also believe there is need for good bilateral relations between Nigeria and India, which is the reason we organise Indian festivals to enable Nigerians interact with Indians. If we rate our potential for business worldwide, we can score the U.S., 80%, Australia, 78%, the United Kingdom, 82%, India 45-50 percent, Nigeria, 20-25 percent. With the rating, the economic potential growth of Nigeria and Africa, is scored high. Any business oriented person in the world would love to do business in a country where growth potentials abound. In Nigeria, Indians are not in the oil sector but are into manufacturing much more than any other country. Indians have companies in Nigeria that support the Nigerian workforce. At a point, the textile sector owned by Indians was the highest employer of labour after Nigeria’s Federal Government. India, therefore, is supporting the economy of Nigeria through the manufacturing sector since the drop in crude oil price. Foreign exchange has stabilised, from N520 to a Dollar at a stage to N320 now. The crude oil output of 2m barrels per day, is also stable. The country’s foreign reserves is also higher. And there is a projection that before the end of this quarter, Nigeria will be out of recession. Also, before the general elections in 2019, the government plans to put lots of infrastructure in place and the economy will improve. The Nigeria economy was rated number one in Africa before it fell into number two after South-Africa. I strongly wished Nigeria’s economy bounces back to its rightful place as the giant of Africa.
What is your view about Separatists in Nigeria?
Agitation for separation and division cannot be the best for a developing country like Nigeria. From a larger concept, in democracy, agitation from small groups are normal because everybody has the right to freedom of speech. In India, there are agitators who want to be independent. Even in a home, you find brothers disagreeing over issues which they later resolve. Although free speech is a core ingredient of democracy, separation cannot make Nigerians happier or better as agitators envisage. Separation is not a solution to a better society in any democracy. However, one is impressed with the way the Federal Government is managing agitations because togetherness is the best way forward for a country like Nigeria. There must be sacrifices each ethnic group has to make; such sacrifices should not be ignored because at the end, it will be in the interest of all. Therefore, Nigeria should remain united and progress together.
India’s marked it’s 70th independence recently, how will juxtapose governance in india with Nigeria ?
We became independent in 1947. Our independence was 13 years earlier before Nigeria. India in 70 years has developed well but there are still lots of potentials and scope for us to develop further. Unlike Nigeria, we got our Independence through a bloody war, while Nigeria got there’s peacefully. Younger generations of Indians living in Nigeria need to know that their founding fathers sacrificed their lives for the Independence, so they appreciate that independence was not gotten on a platter of gold.
What separatists should learn from India’s Independence?
There are lots of cultural similarities between Nigeria and India. In Nigeria, importations are being initiated by India to ensure manufacturing materials are available here. There are two ways India has progressed so far as a country: The agricultural sector and Information Technology (IT). Many Nigerians have taken advantage of these opportunities but I still foresee that bilateral talks should be fostered and there should be some other activities to see that infrastructure are put in place to develop the agricultural sector in the country. If the government has the aim of diversifying the economy through agriculture, Nigeria should embrace the technology created by India that is solid and durable. India’s equipment are very cheap and effective. Nigerian entrepreneurs are developing the country with materials imported from India. I gathered recently that bilateral trade between Nigeria and India in 2016 was over $10 billion. Both countries are in big business as far import and export business is concerned. While India imports oil from Nigeria, Nigeria assorted materials from India. The trade balance between both countries is high.