By Ibrahim Usman
Without mincing words, Nigeria at 54, a ‘sovereign independent’ nation is not anywhere close to the pass mark in the score sheet. This is from the testimonies of Nigerians themselves, complemented by independent reports from world bodies. Let us look at some of these reports.
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is sponsored by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, MIF, a non-grant making organization committed to defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa. The IIAG, in its 2014 report which was released on Monday (29/09/2014), rated Nigeria as one of the worst governed countries in Africa. Nigeria is rated 45.8 per cent lower than the African average (51.5 per cent) and ranked 37th out of 52 in the overall governance scale. The country scored lower than the regional average for West Africa which stands at 52.2 percent and ranked 12th out of 15 in the region.
Nigeria received poor ratings in categories such as safety and the rule of law where it is rated 44th with 38.1 per cent, 32nd in the rule of law with 41.0 percent and 30th in accountability with 36.6 percent. Nigeria got its lowest rating in personal safety where it is ranked 49th with 16.5 per cent and second lowest in national security where it is ranked 48th with 58.2 per cent.
Under human rights, the country is rated 26th with 46.9 per cent, 31st on sustainable economic opportunity with 43.3 per cent and 34th in human development with 53.0 per cent.
“With a population of 173.6 million and population growth rate pegged at 2.8 percent, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, is put at $3013.3 USD, while inflation and unemployment rates stand at 8.5 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively”, said the report.
While Nigeria got the damning rating by the IIAG, Mauritius is adjudged the best governed country in Africa, with 81.7 per cent, followed by Cape Verde, with 76.6 percent. Ghana is rated 7th; Rwanda 11th; Benin Republic 18th; Egypt 26th; Mali 28th; Niger, 29th; Liberia; 31st; Cameroun 34th and Togo 36th; all ahead of better endowed Nigeria.
Other countries that made it to the top of the list included Botswana which is rated the third best governed country in the continent with 76.2 percent and South Africa which comes fourth with 73.3 percent.
A World Bank report tagged, “Poverty Amidst Plenty”, also lamented the extreme poverty in Nigeria as rich and most populous country in Africa. It says, the complex social and political history of the country has impacted adversely on the population and has worsened income distribution. The exploitation of the nation’s oil resources, and the management of oil windfalls, have dominated the progress and decline of Nigeria’s economy over the past two decades, and have significantly influenced evolution and perception of poverty.
No wonder that income distribution also worsened. If not for worsening income distribution national poverty would have declined by 13.6 percent rather than 8.9 percent. Growth was not equally shared by different parts of the country; growth was fastest in southern and middle agroclimatic zones, with much slower growth in northern states. This resulted in the largest number of poor people in northern regions.
“Apart from regional characteristics, poverty is strongly influenced by education, age and nature of employment. 79 percent of extreme urban poor and 95 percent of rural poor had only primary schooling or less. Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) indicates that poor children increasingly do not attend school as they consider quality of education weak and consider education increasing employment prospects minimal. Majority of the poor in Nigeria are concentrated in poor communities rather than scattered around”, says the report.
Recent human rights report on Nigeria also castigated the Nigerian military of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings without any sanction from the government. Needless to say, such an ugly situation would only breed crime, violence and anarchy. As a result, Nigerians are not secured, safe and comfortable even in their inner chambers.
For Nigeria, it is motion without movement; running round circle, retrogression progression; two steps forward, five giant leaps backward; giant with feet of clay, learning geography day after the earthquake.
With the prevailing situation of catalogue of record of shame, Nigerians were astounded when President Goodluck Jonathan on the occasion of the country’s 54th independence anniversary gave his administration a pass mark for delivering on most indicators of good governance. In a nationwide broadcast to mark the anniversary, President Jonathan also said anybody who has genuine grievances would be heard, and that the country will ensure the safety of every Nigerian.
How safe are Nigerians, when women and school girls can be abducted at will and unhindered by yet ‘unknown’ insurgents? How safe are Nigerians, when so-called insurgents capture towns as Nigerian soldiers took to their heels and run for their dear lives, leaving the people at the mercy of terrorists? How safe are Nigerians, when trigger-itchy and bloodthirsty Nigerian military with license to kill, in broad daylight killed peaceful protesters, and the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s Armed Forces could only say ‘Sorry’ to the bereaved? Nigerians are never safe as highly placed men of God such as Sheikh Zakzaky are constantly hunted to be killed for telling the truth in the face of oppression, deep-seated corruption and injustice. Nigerians are never safe, when precepts of the holy books are thrown into dustbin, as the perceived ‘sin’ of the father can be transferred to the sons, to be brutally murdered. If such are the leaders, God save Nigeria and Nigerians!
Once upon a time Nigeria was such a beautiful bride with so many suitors. Jihad of Sheikh Usman Bin Fodiye brought unprecedented positive developments to the admiration of all. The colonialists did not like that, and therefore sabotaged the hard-earned developments. Subsequent administrations after Nigeria’s independence, though schooled, shaped and guided by the colonial mentality enjoyed remnants of Bin Fodiye’s achievements. It should however be known that, the ever-increasing worst situation was rooted in the colonial policy of uneven development. Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has stressed this point at Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary Lecture organized by Resource Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria four years ago.
According to Sheikh Zakzaky the educational imbalance between the South and Northern part of the country was a deliberate policy of the colonialists, whereby the Southern part dominated the civil service and the Northerners were left with political leadership. “This is one of the problems instituted by the colonialists, of which subsequent governments after independence inherited”, he stated. The political superiority was also hijacked, the people were no longer in position to form their own parties, endorse a candidate and engage in free and fair elections. “The one-man-one-vote strength that gave the North opportunity to form government was no longer there. The people’s voice was no longer heard on the kind of government they wanted, even when such a conference was constituted, the proceedings were dictated and the outcome forcefully endorsed”, said Sheikh Zakzaky.
Opinion poll on Nigeria’s position 54 years after independence fell short of commendation, but outright condemnation. At this period when Nigerian security operatives are killing the citizens unhindered and the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces turning a blind eye says a lot about the personality of the country’s leadership. For him to tell the citizens that, “To those who have genuine grievances, I affirm that Nigeria will listen to you, if you bring your grievances to the table of dialogue”, is a clear double speak and deception. The July 25, 2014 extrajudicial killings in Zaria in which the Nigerian Military killed 34 and injured over 120 innocent citizens (mostly students) was one of the sad episodes in Nigeria’s history that portrayed Nigerian government as insensitive to the security and plight of its people, and its soldiers a killer company and brutal machine for the survival the unpopular government of the day. In the face of undisputed evidences presented against the Nigerian Military, the Islamic Movement was only offered “Sorry” by the President as a comfort for the lives lost.
Poor Nigerians! For them it is too high to get over, too low to get under, they are stuck in the middle. Life for the average Nigerian is like going through the eye of a needle and being stuck in the middle. With no hope in sight, life is bleak, black and blank.
Cry not my beloved country, the future is near. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the guardianship of His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is now an undisputed hope for Nigeria. This is why all eyes are on Sheikh Zakzaky. With him around, the world arrogant powers are having sleepless nights. Hence the several attempts to assassinate him and crush the Movement, but he remains the only man left standing.
Like a ripe fruit U.S. and Israel are to fall.