Monday, 20 June 2016

Is Nigeria a failed state?

        Nigeria during the process of gaining its independence from the English colony was seen as the great African super power, the emerging world power from the sub Saharan. This was largely due to its population, land mass (arable land), etc. The discovery of oil during the independence talks and processes seemed to just be an icing in the cake, it was clearly evident that Nigeria had the natural resources to become not only an economic super power but also a military super power that can take an active role in policy making not only in Africa but in the world. After so many years of independence Nigeria is still highly underdeveloped, has an unstable democracy (a country that has flirted with military dictatorship a couple of times),a country that has a problem of systematic corruption. Nigerians and indeed the whole world is disappointed. Is this what the heroes who campaigned for the country’s independence envisioned for them? After asking myself these question it informed me title this short essay "Is Nigeria a failed state". If it is, why? Who is to blame for the failure? Is there hope?
        To simply answer my question here; Not yet (you can close the browser and go back to other much fun sites, thanks for reading, LOL). Let’s take the scenarios one after the other. Yes Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa and 24th in the world according to reports released the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as of October 2015, but according to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GINI ratio was 48.83 when it was last measured in 2010 and was also 48.8 when it was measured by UNDP (United Nations human development program) in 2013. GINI ratio according to the respected Italian statistician and demographer, Corrado Gini is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income distribution of a nation’s residents, this is the most commonly used measure of inequality. It ranges from 0 (a country where by there is no significant difference between income, that is there is perfect equality between the citizens) to 100(a country that has maximal inequality, that is where the high class gets everything while the middle and lower class are left with nothing). Comparing Nigeria to other developing like South Africa with GINI ratio of 63.4 according to the World Bank in 2011, or Brazil with the GINI ratio of 52.9 in 2013 according to the World Bank, Nigeria is ahead of the curve, but these countries like Nigeria are plagued with massive corruption scandals like the Petrobras scandal in Brazil and the Jacob Zuma’s home renovation scandal in South Africa to name a few. Now looking at other developing countries like Ethiopia with a GINI ratio of 33.6 in 2013 by the UNDP, or India with a GINI ratio of 33.9 also according to the UNDP in 2013 you can see that Nigeria has a very long way to go.   
Now with such a high GDP it would be safe to assume that Nigeria would have one the most developed infrastructure in the world, well you would be wrong. According to the former minister of finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Nigeria needs approximately 8 billion USD yearly to bridge the gap in the nation’s public infrastructure. This problem was caused as a result of decades of federal and state government’s budget for capital expenditure being on sharp decline while recurrent expenditure has been on the rise. The average government budget for expenditure has been about 25 percent. This has translated into less investment in building and maintenance of public infrastructure. This was at its highest during the military dictatorship era whereby the cost of governance was exceedingly high.  According to reports from the ministry of Budget and Federal planning, the nation’s infrastructure is grossly underdeveloped. Only about 18 percent of the nation’s 197000 kilometers of federal roads network which takes 90 percent of persons across the country is paved. The situation is worse for state and local government (I would imagine the exact statistics of that one if the “good” federal stats are this bad). The public power generation in Nigeria is disgraceful. The country generates less than 4000 MW of power which is less than 50 percent of demand, around 90 percent of firms in Nigeria run on backup power generators in spite of the privatization scheme and massive increase in tariff for power.
            The healthcare system in Nigeria is another sector in dire condition, with very few hospitals in the country and even fewer healthcare worker (qualified and unqualified) it’s no wonder that the average mortality rate and infant mortality rate although  improving over the years leaves a lot of room for improvement. One of the biggest problems with the health sector is the fact that the standard organization that is supposed to ensure quality healthcare service for the average Nigerian is seriously lacking. In every market you go to you would find unlicensed pharmacist doing the job of both doctor and pharmacist, prescribing and selling drugs to sick illiterate (and unfortunately literate) people. The selling of herbal drugs that have not gone through series of test in other to determine if it is suitable for consumption is freely sold and advertised publicly all over the country. The problem of unlicensed doctors performing illegal treatments and sometimes dangerous surgery on people in mostly rural areas where access to hospitals is somewhat impossible has claimed the lives of millions of people and will continue the claim a lot of lives until something changes.
            The education sector again is something horrible, with poor standards of education, inadequate facilities to train the students, the gross incompetence of public school teachers. I watched a YouTube video where a school administrator could not read an address that was already written down and she was being coached through it on camera by the governor of the state (Gov. Adams Oshiomhole). It’s no wonder that the average Nigerian graduate is naturally incompetent, uneducated, uncivilized. This is one of the main reasons why most children from the rich class are sent abroad to study. This can also explain why there are relatively few skilled labor companies in Nigeria because let’s face it there are very few skilled laborers, most companies that require skilled workers actually have to re-train their staff before they can fully be integrated into the company or unfortunately do the easier thing which is outsource the work to other countries. If you forget about high skilled labor and you check the basic literacy rate of Nigeria, it’s a measly 59.6% according to UNESCO compared to India’s 72.1% and South Africa’s 94.3% it’s clear that in a world where basic education is needed for survival Nigeria has a long way to go.
            This article won’t be complete without talking about the civil liberties in Nigeria. Yes Nigeria is a democratic state but is it really a free state. With sharia law being practiced in 12 of the 36 states in Nigeria (Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Kastina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger, Gombe). The increasing unlawful arrests made and the extra-judicial killing by the military on suspected members of boko haram members. The killing of unarmed civilians who are agitating for Biafra as reported by Amnesty International. The constant clamp down on free press, according to freedomhouse.org; A 2011 antiterrorism law was amended in 2013 to increase penalties for terrorism-related offenses, but critics said certain provisions were so broadly worded that they could be interpreted to include some legitimate journalistic practices. Section 5(2)(c), for example, prohibits “receipt or provision of information or moral assistance, including invitation to adhere to a terrorist or terrorist group”. It goes on further to say; The 2011 Freedom of Information Act guarantees citizens’ right to public information and has put pressure on government agencies to release records in response to petitions by media and activist groups. Some state governors have balked at complying with the law, arguing that the federal legislation is not applicable to the states. With all these basic civil liberty clamp down it is safe to say that, yes Nigeria might be democratic state but like in all aspects has a long way to go in ensuring that the rights of every citizen of the country is upheld.