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Nigeria: Giant only among minnows

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By Jide Ajani

Looking ahead signifies an intention to go beyond the immediate, explore possibilities and plan for the future.  But how do you go beyond the immediate when the immediate is already ahead of you? How do you explore possibilities when the path to exploration is strewn with mines? Concomitantly, what manner of plans can, therefore, be put in place?
That in a nutshell, captures the contraption (yes, a contraption) called Nigeria.

For a people who refer to their country as the giant of Africa, something inescapably ridiculous is always missed by Nigerians.

For instance, what could the self-professed giant of Africa possibly have in common with countries like Togo, Benin, Niger, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali?  Well, they all got independence in 1960 and they are all African countries; but that is where the sense ends. The egregious commonality shared is that all these countries, including Nigeria, have fared badly, very badly, on the Human Development Index scale.

Nigeria ranked 154 on a list of 177 countries of the world, just missing the bottom by a mere 23 positions.  Meanwhile, Nigeria possesses almost all known mineral resources underneath its earth.  Nigeria remains the fifth largest producer of crude oil.  Yet, its HDI is one of the lowest in the world.  Still, a country like Gabon, which also got independence in 1960, has a high HDI.  There are even less celebrated countries like Mauritius, which got independence in 1968, or Equatorial Guinea also 1968, with higher HDI.

Mind you, this HDI “is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide.  It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare.  It is used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, a developing or an under-developed country”.

And whereas the report says Nigeria improved by 0.005 between 2005 and 2006 which was the period the latest data was collated, this should not be comforting because that positive movement is still in the arena of sub-zero.
So, when Nigerian leaders and economist chant the mantra of Vision 20-2020, mouthing an intention to be amongst the 20 best economies of the world by Year 2020, the only mouth-shutting question to ask them is:  Will the other 153 countries placed above Nigeria cease to make progress; or will they, for Nigeria’s sake, retrogress and wait for us to catch up?

The apocalyptic realities confronting the Nigerian nation is that virtually all institutions capable of launching the nation forward have collapses – education, health, infrastructure, government et al.

Fittingly, an epilogue to a country’s 49th independence anniversary should drive the point home: Enough of the tomfoolery.

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