When Will Nigeria Grow Up?

Mo Ibrahim Foundation is a non-governmental organisation resembling Transparency International, but has African antecedents. Its proprietor, the wealthy Sudanese and former owner of CELTEL, Mo Ibrahim, sold his business and instituted a $100million foundation to be invested in Africa, as a tool to ‘call governments to account to their people’. It also acts as a framework for debates on how African states should be governed. Recently, it released its rating of what it considered ‘good governance’ in African countries with indexes based on security, legislation, transparency and corruption, human rights, poverty and health, sustainable, economic and human development.

On the face of it, nobody should worry about a rating that places countries like Ghana on the 8th position, Tunisia and most North African countries above a Nigeria that is so better endowed than a Sierra Leone but was placed a very distant 37th. What is worrisome however is that much unlike the Transparency International’s rating of Nigeria over the years, that is usually controversial because of alleged imperialist and arbitrary methods of data compilation, the Mo Ibrahim is 100 per cent African, by an African and for Africans. And despite the fact that Transparency International insists that the country adjudged as meeting the criteria for ‘good government’, (Mauritius), to a reasonable measure is still corrupt, whatever statements were made by Mo Ibrahim concerning governance in Africa should be taken seriously.

If we attempt a preview or review of the indexes of that report, we find ourselves sadly confronted with the realization that lesser endowed countries like Ethiopia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mauritius, Botswana and Cameroon usually beat us whenever there is a competition to decide which country is much more politically and strategically positioned, especially whenever we consider the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, of the United Nations, UN. And this ushers us to the thrust of this apology: taking a look around today, what we find is that in some fields of physical achievements where our prowess as the engine house of the West African Sub-region is in doubt, Nigeria is keen to plagiarize the achievements of other nations, whose citizens have names that seemingly have Nigerian hue. Take for instance the exploits of Arsenal’s Togolese international, Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored a hat-trick in one of the English Premiership games that was played recently. Just because that chap shone like a million stars in just one encounter, certain sections of the Nigerian media were happy to flatter each other with such epithets and epaulets as Adebayor, the Nigerian-born Arsenal international star. While it is true that a sizable Yoruba population reside in Togo, the argument becomes unreasonable to assume that because the name Adebayor sounds like our own Adebayo, then it follows that Adebayor has Nigerian ancestry. No. The young lad was born in Lome and he is very proud of his ancestors. The young lad has an intrinsic belief in his fatherland, quite unlike people like Francis Obikwelu, pushed to the end of his paternal belief in his fatherland, took the plunge to Portugal and wins the kinds of laurels we never gave him an opportunity to win for us. If we must claim success by another nation simply because the citizen of that country has a name that sounds like ours, where were we at the last World Cup when the tiny West African country struggled to establish a presence, grappling with problems of money, with Adebayor single-handedly trying to lift the morale of his team? What lessons did we learn from a boy born in 1984(Adebayor) single-handedly promising cash gifts to his compatriots in a recent football competition involving us and his somewhat tiny country, Togo?

The answers to these questions surely must lie somewhere around the unending circumstances that has made some of our athletes, professionals and brains to abandon their fatherland, in search of what has been called greener pastures, even when the grass back home is greener in lushness than the grass they seek outside. The answers must lie somewhere in the corporate mentality of a country that had a democratically elected government for eight years but was adjudged by the Mo Ibrahim Index as unable to perform in the areas of free-elections, legislation, poverty and health, safety of lives and property.

Look at the appalling statistics: Ghana is a country whose citizens Nigeria purged 25 years ago in 1982. But today, they have managed to clinch a position on the Ibrahim rating 18 times better than ours. While Ghana was adjudged as providing a near perfect state of safety of lives and security for her people (85.9%) Nigerians constantly live in fear for their lives (56.8%) because they are just not sure who gets killed next. While Presidents like John Kufuor presented bold faces of the rule of law and transparency in the conduct of government business (70.1%), Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo became the godfather and sponsor of attempts to rubbish certain precepts in the Nigerian democratic process (44.3%). While Ghanaians were seen as peaceful in the conduct of the 2004 elections that saw the opposition, New Patriotic Party, NPP, wresting power from the ruling party (57.7%), the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Nigeria saw the elections this year as a do-or-die affair (44.2%). It is only in the areas of human development and sustainable economic development that the margin by which our neighbours beat us was not too wide. But the whole business is an embarrassing one, to say the least, especially if Nigeria’s status in the sub region is put into consideration. Here’s one country, Nigeria still struggling at 47, to come to terms with its vast potential as a power broker, even as a South Africa, newly-emancipated from the clutches of Apartheid, enjoys premium position as the fifth country in Africa after Mauritius, where South Africans could expect to live up to 70, expect constant power supply and work to retire and enjoy the benefits of retirement. For Nigeria then, will it ever be uhuru?

Written by
MajiriOghene Bob Etemiku
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1 comment
  • actually look it up… true that yorubas a found in mainly nigeria, but also benin and togo. BUT adebayor is actually born to nigerian parents from osun state, but born in lome. he has no togolese ancestry