In this global community, Nigeria cannot afford to be indifferent to her world rankings. In the last few months, the country has had some unpalatable and disturbing world rankings from foreign institutions. These rankings have not portrayed the country in any good light. Many of them painted Nigeria as a country full of despair, hunger and anger. As Nigerians, it is often very difficult to doubt the veracity of these world rankings and their impression about Nigeria. This is because we see practical examples and signs pointing towards these reports in our immediate communities.
It is largely impossible for anyone to rule out some elements of exaggerations and inaccuracies in some of these reports. But sometimes, we cannot collectively rubbish these reports in their entirety. To a large extent, many of the submissions of these foreign institutions about our dear country speak great volumes of where we are as a country. Nigeria is currently opened to a number of social injustices and socio economic challenges. As long as citizens draw the attentions of the world to their palpable and sordid daily experiences of extra judicial killings, rising cases of poverty, unemployment and youth restiveness, Nigeria may continue to swim in this pool of bad rankings and reportages.
As a country blessed with large quantities and quality of human and material resources, it is a shame that Nigeria cannot command any good rankings both locally and internationally. With all the resources we have in this country, Nigeria should neither be ranked as the poverty capital of the world nor labeled as the sixth miserable country in the world. This is nauseating and highly disgusting. It is also worrisome noting that one’s dear country is on the red alert of the United States of America. In her travel advisory report released some days ago, the United States Department of State warned her “citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria due to armed robbery, assault, carjacking, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, rape and piracy”.
For Nigerians living abroad, these reports readily open them to mockery, suspicion, ridicule and stereotyping in their host communities. For Nigerians at home, these reports dampen our hard working spirit and love for the country. Damaging reports as we have had in the last few months provide the necessary alibis for Nigerians wanting to leave the country by all means. They increase citizens ‘desperations in seeking comfort and safety elsewhere through legal and illegal routes including the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara desert. As a country, we lose our reputation and goodwill in the comity of nations. We also may not be able to attract as much as foreign investments as we hope and plan to.
The above explanations underscore why it becomes imperative to stem the tide of these ill-fated world rankings for Nigeria. First, we need attitudinal change towards and in our polity. Not all our problems require huge finance to solve. A lot of them only require behavioural and attitudinal changes in a manner that would ensure fairness, equity, transparency and accountability in the society. We need leaders that can lead by examples, live within our economic realities and means. We need leaders that can inspire and motivate Nigerians to unconditionally love one another and promote peace in the land. We do not need divisive and selfish leaders, who promote and reward violence, ethnocentrism, regional and religious sentiments. Here strong political will is required to right the wrongs in the country.
Secondly, there is urgent need to facilitate and implement good economic policies and programmes that would affect the lives of Nigerians positively. Government at all levels must invest heavily on physical and social infrastructure through provisioning of adequate health care facilities, good schools, efficient and effective transportation networks, regular and stable power supply across the country. Social securities like good welfare packages for the old, unemployed and the retirees must be provided. Conducive environment that would create job opportunities, eradicate discriminations and ensure adequate housing facilities for all must equally be instituted.
Finally, adherence to the rule of law without fear or favour is another area the government of the day needs to focus on. Everyone should be treated equally before the laws of the land. Nigeria can only progress if we discontinue operating different laws or court systems between the rich and the poor or between the leaders and their followers. As it stands, Nigeria has enough laws but their implementation is poor. Our laws must focus on building strong institutions rather than strong men. This is the way to stem the tide of bad world rankings for Nigeria. God bless Nigeria
Ayeni wrote this piece from Akute, Ogun State
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