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Ukraine: Why Putin’s new offensive threatens global stability

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THOUGH it started as ‘fraternal squabble’ between two neighbours as President Vladimir Putin of Russia profiled it, it has degenerated into a big war with global  impact.  Putin’s latest offensive in his invasion of Ukraine, after few weeks of reversal in fortunes, is a dire wakeup call on the world before its overarching effect on the global community gets out of hand.

  THE danger in the matter is given more traction on two major headways. Apart from showing no sign of restraints with more than 60 days into hostilities, despite efforts at brokering a truce by few third parties, its effects are gnarling across all facets of global order, from economy to peace and security.

 And none is more affected than vulnerable economies in developing nations such as in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond where its toll has taken dire hit already.

  IT IS not as if these ripples are suddenly dropping down from the blues, because there were predictions to that effect from the outset, even when Putin was flying his kite  in his usual  mind game to keep the world guessing.

But none thought the situation could get this precarious in just two months of crossfire. Hence, with Putin’s warheads continuously tearing their way into Ukrainian homes, hospitals and schools, nowhere may be insulated around the world.

Globally, living conditions are degenerating,  from driving up commodity prices in vulnerable countries to jeopardy in  food security and poverty alleviation efforts in Africa and Middle East – given Ukraine’s position as world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and wheat, with Russia as largest oil exporter and top supplier of fertiliser.   According to reports, over 41 million people in western and central Africa may fall into food and nutrition crisis this year.

The  World Food Programme, further notes that the war is inflicting a frightful global refugee problem as over 4.6 million Ukrainians have fled into Poland, Romania and other neighbouring states with its collateral effect on international security as terrorists and other criminal elements mingle with people genuinely seeking shelter in other countries.

The alarm is made more dreadful when interfaced with another footnote showing that nothing prevents the  irregular movements into countries in West Africa, including Nigeria, should they overshoot continuous nations’ carrying capacities.

  PERHAPS, this explains why latest emergency responses by global agencies, from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to International Monetary Fund (IMF) have described the situation as sordid. Given the global agencies’ use of  one pejorative epithet or another, world leaders, particularly those in Africa, nay, Nigeria should be jotted to the   reality of the war and shape up.

  FOR instance, noting that the conflict had inflicted severe blow on world economy, while comparing its ripple effects to an earthquake, WTO slashed its growth forecast for this year to 2.8 per cent from earlier 4.1 per cent prediction it made before the war, while IMF now expects the world economy will expand by 3.6 per cent in both 2022 and 2023 in a sharp detour from 6.1 per cent growth rate of 2021, reflecting downgrades of 0.8 and 0.2 percentage points from its January forecast.

World Bank has also followed suit in this gloomy trajectory, slashing its global growth forecast this week by predicting that the world economy is to expand by 3.2 per cent in 2022, contrary to earlier box office projections.

All of these global financial watchdogs warn that the damage will only grow if  the war ends.   They are  unanimous in reasoning  that the war   severely sets back global recovery of world economy from the coronavirus pandemic by slowing growth and increasing inflation even further.

  IN NIGERIA, here, households and businesses are already verging on distress as the war takes more blows on energy prices, spiking pump price of liquefied natural gas, for instance, diesel is now sold  above N700 per litre, just this week when experts put likelihood of a US recession at 15 per cent in the next 12 months and 35 per cent within the next 24 months, as well as, predicting rising chances of China falling into recession this spring.

  NOT a few people fear perilous auguries  ahead for the country, given the fact that Russia is Nigeria’s sixth-largest trade partner in terms of imports. Apart from oil and gas, in agriculture,  Nigeria imports wheat, potash (a primary ingredient for fertiliser), among others  from Russia. So far, disruption in global shipment occasioned by imposed sanctions against Russia affects the economy.

From Ukraine, Nigeria imports iron ore  for production of steel and primary manufacturing hardware. Both Russia and Ukraine are largest exporters of durum wheat to Nigeria that is used in producing flour for bread and noodles.

Apart from this, Russia exports seafood such as mackerel, herring and other fish types to Nigeria, while Ukraine exports dairy and agricultural products to Nigeria.

THIS is why no matter anyone’s stand on it , the ongoing war in Ukraine is not only a threat to global livelihoods but even so on  Nigeria’s economy.  More so, with another election year in the offing and no fall-back safety nets or rational Plan-B in place.

  THEREFORE, we reiterate our call for added impetus to boost the Nigerian National Development Plan (NDP) 2021 – 2025 inaugurated last year. This is the time for well-meaning Nigerians, particularly those whose hands are on the economic levers at national and state levels, to develop pockets of initiatives not only to feed this plan but also to put the country in a manageable state of preparedness to tackle emergencies like the one now on everybody’s hand.

A central feature of NDP is diversification of economy to reflect optimal value chain in all local products. Now is the time to look inward to activate a result-oriented diversification agenda. Already, bread being Nigeria’s most popular pastry has been fingered as a possible staple food to be taken off the shelves as the weeks go by.

How can Nigerians withstand this, because it will be foolhardy to ignore more socio-economic hardships facing Nigerians should the Ukraine-Russia war escalates and last longer, when so many are feeding from hand to mouth already?

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