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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>At 53, Nigeria Inches Towards A Failed State
Monday, 30 September 2013 13:33

At 53, Nigeria Inches Towards A Failed State

Written by Sam Nda-Isaiah

In 24 hours, Nigeria shall be marking (not celebrating) 53 years as an independent state. There will be nothing to celebrate. The founding fathers who toiled and whose blood watered the tree of freedom would be disappointed with what has become of the country they left behind for us to nurture. In terms of real growth, except perhaps population growth, almost every country that attained independence around the same time we did has left us behind.


On the eve of Nigeria’s 53rd birthday as a self-governing state, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist of London, has declared Nigeria as the worst country to be born in 2013. The same Economist, in its Failed States Index, placed Nigeria amongst the 10 worst failed states with Somalia topping the list. Apart from Somalia, Nigeria shares the infamous company of the DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe (where you buy a loaf of bread with box-loads of Zimbabwean dollars), Iraq and Pakistan. Niger, Syria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea and such other countries we used to laugh at are now far better than us.


As I write this piece, the news is that more than 50 students of the School of Agriculture at Gujba in Yobe State have been shot dead in their sleep by gunmen. Some say 70 bodies have been counted. This has become the new normal in the country. People don’t seem to be alarmed anymore at such news, the same way the entire world stood still and watched terrorists kill 67 people in a Kenyan mall about a week earlier. The Mo Ibrahim Governance Index (2012), which is an annual assessment of governance performance of African countries, places Nigeria at the 43rd position, sharing the company of Zimbabwe (again), DRC, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia. The first 10 best governed countries, according to the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index, include Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles, South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia, Lesotho and Tanzania. Nigeria has been very unfortunate with leadership but has even been more so since the military handed over power in 1999.


And from the facts on ground today, it would appear that President Goodluck Jonathan is the worst president this country has had. The president and his apologists keep saying that Nigeria has always been in dire straits before Jonathan took over. Yes, that is true, but Jonathan has made the situation much worse. Insecurity in the country has never been this bad. Oil theft has never been this bad and corruption has never been this bad. Whatever index of governance you pick has never been this bad. And it is when Jonathan took over that Nigeria was placed among the 10 worst governed African countries by the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index. As I write, more than 40 million Nigerians – more than the population of all the countries in West Africa and more than the population of 52 of 60 countries in Africa – are unemployed. Apart from this, Nigeria is home to the world’s largest out-of-school children. There are 10.5 million children out of school – more than the population of countries like Switzerland and Sweden. This is clearly a disaster worse than Boko Haram waiting to happen, but today’s leaders do not care -- or they do not give a damn, as President Jonathan would prefer to say.


Nigeria’s economy may be growing at the moment, but it is fake growth. It is growth without economic activities and with no jobs’ generation. It is growth induced by high oil prices, and, with the current industrial-scale oil theft, it will be interesting to see what this year’s economic growth figures will be.


But Nigeria cannot continue on this path. By all indices, it is already a failed state. We must start afresh to redeem our country. We must pull our country back from the brink. We must start by insisting on having the right people in power. Many African countries have left us behind. Those who want to excuse what is happening to Nigeria on its population surely have not heard about countries like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia – each more populated than Nigeria but infinitely better run. The only thing that will stop Nigeria from getting worse than Somalia on the Failed States Index is a new president.

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