NIGERIA AND AN ECONOMY ON TENTERHOOKS
The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) has released the 2016 governance statistics for African countries. A high-point of this year’s survey is the celebration of the 10th year anniversary of the IIAG and the humanitarian contribution of its leader, Dr. Mo Ibrahim in supporting economic growth in Africa. The organization provides tools to support progress in leadership and governance in Africa, through its economic, developmental programs. While we celebrate the impact of such an illustrious icon who has shown continuous support for Africa’s economic growth over a decade, this year’s assessment has seen Nigeria in the familiar position of 36th among 54 African countries. For a decade, Nigeria has constantly lagged behind in the IIAG rating. Among development practitioners, our rating behind less endowed countries raises fundamental issues: why is our economy always standing on tenterhooks?
According to the reports ‘Nigeria scored 46.5 out of 100 points in the measurement of overall governance that saw Cote d’ Ivoire, Togo and Zimbabwe, become the three most improved countries in the governance rating of all 54 African countries’. The report has it that ‘Nigeria is one of ten countries that improved in all four sectors that were used for measurement, namely: Accountability, Participation& Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Nigeria was, however, rated poorly in the National Security Sub-Sector, having declined by 28.6 points over a ten year period’ from 2006 to 2015.
Nigeria’ worse performance in the overall ranking on the IIAG index was in 2012 when she debuted alongside the least 10 countries with poor governance system for the first time. Nigerian scored a total of 48.5 out of 100 and placed 43 out of 52 countries. In that same year, Nigeria alongside Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa recorded poor governance performance and declined in two of the four main IIAG categories — Safety & Rule of Law and Participation & Human Rights. Each of these four countries deteriorated mostly in the sub-category of political and economic participation of her citizenry. Issue of gender equality was also another source of worry. It is also important to note that Nigeria’s best performance was recorded back-to-back in 2008 and 2009 respectively. She was 35th position with an average score of 48.5.
But some worry about the IIAG’s reliability. The argument is that the sources of the data derived from the perception index and so-called fact-based sources are sometimes political, inconsistent, lacking in transparency and comparability, and can be shrouded in overblown data sources and selective bias. Yet, about 1.5 million Nigerians remained jobless in the first quarter of 2016. In an unemployment report released recently, about 1.5million Nigerians are currently without gainful employment as at May 21, 2016. From April to September, 2015, about 110 persons were reportedly kidnapped. More are still being kidnapped. There has been constant disregard of freedom of expression and the unsuccessful attempt by the legislative arm of government to gag journalists, bloggers and certain freedom in the media. Over 10 journalists have been arrested and imprisoned within the past one year, some of them without trial.
I believe that the IIAG has helped to reveal the extent of mismanagement of human-capital resource, highhandedness, lack of accountability and transparency, abuse of rule of law, perpetrated by public office holders and politicians irrespective of party affiliations. The outcome of indicators such as political stability and participation, investor-friendliness to encourage local capacity production, rule of law, access to quality education, human rights, health, healthy environment, gender equality and security, makes it possible to assess the extent of victimization of Nigerians by its rulers.
Another significant factor of the governance index is that it enables developing countries including Nigeria to assess global economic support to eradicate epidemic diseases, assess quality health care, and identification of grey areas to attract economic investment. The current economic recession being experienced by Nigeria is a pointer to the consequences of a mono-economy, corruption in positions of authority and the inability of our industries to function to full capacity. The Federal Government must take necessary steps to diversify our economy by investing into key sectors such as power, steel, transportation, agriculture, health and security, to enhance optimal productivity for local consumption and export. The conduciveness of our business environment is sacrosanct to encourage foreign investors and most importantly, ensure the exportation of our local produce as finished products, to earn more foreign exchange.
For Nigeria to move forward, issues of impunity, ethnicity, religious and party affiliation must be kept aside. The constitution, irrespective of its many imperfections, must be highly respected and seen as precedence for institutions, individuals and groups to live by. Government should as much as possible avoid using sloganeering to drive change. Real change will come when public office holders shun ostentatious life style and lead by showing positive examples for Nigerians to follow. Leadership must be seen as true service to one’s country, and not an avenue for the few to enrich themselves. Public office holders must be seen living the life they preach to Nigerians and not just in speeches alone.
Monitoring & Evaluation.