The True Value of a Nigerian Life

What does it mean to be Nigerian? What is the Nigerian dream? As more of the best Nigerian minds continue to despise their country and seek greener pastures outside its shores, it’s time to get introspective and ask if being Nigerian is a blessing. Are you better off being born in Nigeria than say Ghana or Rwanda?

What is a Nigerian life worth? The life of an African Giant, borrowing the words of a famous Coachella rebel. Statistically, this type of thing is measured by GDP per capita, which is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a Nation divided by the population of that country. GDP measures the total output of a country, so you can see why dividing total output by population, even if unevenly skewed, gives you an idea of how rich the citizens of that country are.

Let me add the caveat that I have a problem with using the GDP per Capita as a measure of the wealth of citizens because for very small countries with vast amount of natural resources like Oil, their GDP per capital numbers would be astronomically high, but this rarely translates into economic growth for its citizens given that the Oil would most likely be drilled by foreign companies who would pay royalties to the Government who, seeing as this is Africa, would most likely siphon most of that money into offshore accounts and personal pockets. Proponents of this metric however say that indirectly, a higher GDP always translates to better lives for citizens, this is true if you were dealing with countries not riddled with bad governance and crippling theft like we have in Africa.

Back to Nigeria, according to stats, a Nigerian would be the 13th richest person if all Africans were lined up in hall. That’s because Nigeria’s GDP per capita is ranked 13th (so much for being the richest African economy but this is offset by being the most populous Country as well, so way too many zeros to divide by). The stats say a Nigerian life is worth $1,968 (roughly N700,000). Let’s hold on on how laughable this figure is in a country where minimum wage is $50 (recently increased to $83). This presumes that in a year, a basic Nigerian would have earned (or accrue a GMV) of about N700,000. You’re laughing, I’m not.

Most Nigerians would tell you they don’t feel their life is worth almost $2,000. Mothers sell their babies for as low as $100 and even less, people commit heinous crimes for as little as $50, these people don’t think their life is worth anything more. This great disparity between what the Economists say and what the average Nigerian says is largely down to how poor and corrupt our Government is at the expense of the Nigerian life and not necessarily because the Economists are far off in their estimates. Even if we were to stick with the stats, is a Nigerian life worth that much? I sincerely doubt it because the power brokers do nothing to show that a Nigerian life is the 13th most expensive in Africa.

If you place Nigeria close to its peers, like the Graph above shows, they are no where near their contemporaries. Nigeria’s GDP figures just do not make sense, and that’s saying something given that most Nigerians already think this figure does not represent their current state. The much heralded benefits of macroeconomic growth that Economists like to tout has not happened in Nigeria yet, our Healthcare remains one of the poorest, road accidents are still high, police brutality and crackdown keeps rising. The supposed dividends of high GDP remains elusive.

As a Nigerian, it’s tough looking at the Graph above, I have carefully selected the comparable Countries for good measure. A Nigerian life is supposedly worth 2x a Beninese but the Government of Benin Republic treats her citizens like they are worth 10x that of a Nigerian life. In Benin Republic, motorcycles have their separate lanes to reduce the risk of accidents on the main road, where having to share the road with cars could prove fatal. Trucks carrying containers out of the Port in Cotonou are well bound to reduce the risk human accidents. Remember, a Beninese is only worth about $800.

Compare this to Nigeria where trucks carrying containers out of ports are not well bound and regularly kill Nigerians and this has happened more than once, with no sufficient response from the Government. Remember, a Nigerian life is worth about $2,000. The action of the Nigerian Government towards the Nigerian people, if anything, is an indication that the Nigerian life is worth close to zero. Rwanda has become a beacon for how to deal with conflict resolution, Nigerians flock to Rwanda during the holiday season because RwandaAir (their National Carrier) offer discounted flight options, the Government issues Visa on Arrival and they have natural parks and well maintained tourist attractions, they even have a spot on Arsenal’s Jersey. Yes, the English football club. How much is a Rwanda life worth you ask? $748 or almost 3x a Nigerian life. Is that a heavy sigh you just heaved? It reverberates round Nigeria, if that makes you feel any better.

Little wonder, the current generation of Nigerians leaving the country are the ones who were promised the “future” but have grown to the realization of being governed by the very people who ruled their parents. Our best brains are leaving, the very best of them across key sectors and professions meant to herald the next phase of Economic growth. The services sector makes up more than 52% of Nigeria’s GDP, guess where those who are currently leaving the country come from? You guessed right, the Services sector. No Nation can become successful if it continues to pay zero attention to its future. The Countries embracing these smart young Nigerians understand the need to secure the future while Nigeria’s Government continue to despise its future with wanton killings orchestrated by the Nation’s Police Force.

The drivers of the Services sector — power, infrastructure and security — remain poorly addressed. Just the other day, a British Aid worker was kidnapped and killed in the North, next, it was a young man killed by the Police. Everyday, there’s sad news infiltrating our polity.

Where are the people meant to protect and govern us, you ask? They are jostling for juicy positions in both the Executive and legislative arms of Government.

Remember, a Nigerian life is worth almost $2,000 or N700,000 if you please.

Stay True.

Miracle Roch.

Thoughts on the Nigerian Electorate

This is going to be a two part piece. I’ll talk about the Nigerian Electorate in this piece while I’ll focus on the Nigeria Elections in the next piece. This piece is a neutral look at the Nigerian electorate and what influences their candidate choice.
You must know that Nigeria which has been touted as the largest black nation in the boast boasts of about 160 million people and is majorly composed of three tribes which have been divided along border lines both geographically, mentally and religiously.
The great divide between the northern and southern part of the country has influenced almost everything that has got to do with our Federalism. The northerners greatly aided by religion (dominant Muslim) has been in war against the Southerners (dominant Christians).
There’s been a civil war to this effect, there’s been massacres and pogroms also to this effect and one has to wonder why successive governments really pay no attention to this gulf and rift.
The northerners believe Nigeria should be an Islamic state, they believe it is their right to own and govern Nigeria, they see the Southern Christians as infidels and enemies that should be killed and maimed. They see them as a minority who shouldn’t have a say in Nigeria.
The southerners believe Nigeria is theirs and should be governed by them because oil (which is Nigeria’s main source of income) is found in their region. They see the northerners as blood sucking demons whose only duty is to kill Christians and so there is an inborn hatred even if they take no physical action to back up this innate hatred.
These two have failed to find a middle ground to cohabit and relate. I wouldn’t blame them though, no real concerted effort has been made from the center to try to find a middle ground. And so what we have had over the past years has been a tug-of-war where they both try to justify their stand.
With these theories at the back of your mind, you see why it’s not rocket science to try to decipher what determines who the average Nigerian votes for at the polls especially when the two main candidates are from two different sides of the divide (and religion too).
The average northerner will vote for a fellow northerner and a fellow Muslim. The average southerner will vote for a fellow southerner and a fellow Christians. To understand this perfectly, you need to have gone to the Mosque on the Friday preceding the elections. You see how Imams and the likes turn the election into a religious affair with some quotations from the Quran to even back up their reasons why their followers should vote for the Muslim candidate. You needed to have been in church too on the preceding Sunday to see how Pastor threw decorum to the background in their efforts to ensure their congregation cast their votes for a fellow Christian “brother”.
Sadly, this election was more about religion than it was about the state of our nation. no matter how hard we try to run away from this, this election bothered more on the religion of the two main candidates as a criteria for their qualification rather than on their worth as humans! This election was more about the ethnicity of the candidates rather than the political authority each had.
With this in mind, you can already visualize voting patterns. And your assertion was right. It turned out that way. The north voted for their northern candidate, the south voted for their southern candidate. And so, the winner was entirely dependent on which of the divide had more voters and this is where the problem lies. To understand this, you only need take a look at the Nigerian map.
Nigerian MAp
The Nigerian Map || Courtesy: Microsoft Encarta 2009.
From the map above you’ll realize that the vast portion of Nigeria belongs to the North, the North outnumber every other region both geographically and by population. And hence with this large difference in population, you see that this leaves us with an unbalanced electorate which will leave the North outnumbering every other tribe by a ratio of 2:1. You can see why the North holds the upper hand whenever it comes to elections. This is wrong. No so group should have all this power. No such group should be able to decide the leadership of a whole nation on its own especially when their choices are based on religion and ethnicity. This will leave us with an unbalanced government; one filled with too much jingo and bias.
There are many ways to solve this problem. But no matter the solution you may have upstairs, separation is entirely out of it. I don’t buy the idea of separation. I seriously think a massive sensitization should take place in the North and South. A perfectly working democratic system shouldn’t vote in leaders based on religion and ethnicity. This is atrocious and unacceptable. The electorate should vote in only credible candidates. This is how a democratic system works.
One only need look at the election of 1979, there we had a situation almost similar to this one. Then we had two major parties then and we also had an electorate that voted along ethnic lines but let’s look at what the NPN (National Party of Nigeria) which campaigned vigorously and garnered support from all corners of the country. Meanwhile the NPP (Nigerian People’s Party) restricted their campaigns to the South and at the end, they couldn’t even garner all the votes from the south due to the good work the NPN did. Our modern political parties should learn from this, they should go to all corners of the country and campaign, present their manifesto in a suitable way to even the layman and allow their work speak. With the kind of campaign the NPN did replicated today, we would see an aversion from the already established voting patterns in our country.
If we can do all this and more, then we would have set ourselves on the honourable path of balancing our electorate.
God Bless Nigeria.
Long may we remain as One.
God bless us all.

Stay True!

Miracle Roch.
@Mr_GudMan

The Jonathan-Buhari Conundrum

Ever since Buhari emerged as the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), so many schemes and debates have begun. So many juxtapositions between the incumbent President; Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and his rival General Muhammad Buhari. So many of them misleading too.
Let me give you a brief history here. The incumbent President belongs to the PDP and the PDP which is the largest party in the country has been in power since 1999. The symbol of opposition in the country is the APC. Ever since there was a merger between all the other opposition parties a few years ago which birthed the APC, they have grown stronger and stronger but in influence and superiority.
To tell you the truth, ever since this election brouhaha and shenanigans started, I have steered clear from it reason being that the two candidates both have what I need when merged together that is.
I, like many other Nigerians would love to see what an aversion to our democratic system would usher in, the PDP has been in power since 1999 and we really haven’t had the chance to measure their development rate because despite the fact three people have been elected president since then, they are all the same kind. So the APC provides us with a chance to see what we have either achieved over the last 15 years or what we have missed. And because one of the things that change brings along with it is ambiguity, we are all eager to see what this change may bring, if it will be worse, we only then have to endure for just four years before we boot it out of government, but what if this change will bring better? You see, we really can’t tell unless we elected them.
So many Nigerians agree with what I have written in the previous paragraph. Actually, why so many people are still sticking with the PDP is because they lack faith in the candidate of the APC whose past to be honest isn’t anything but nice.
But here is where the dilemma lies. Should we stick with the current administration for yet another four years? Despite the fact that all they have fed us with have been lies upon lies and nonperformance? Or should we try a leader who many believe to be a religious bigot and an ethnic jingoist?
For the first time ever, I have sincerely come to really see the APC candidate as someone who may likely win this election, it had never crossed my mind before now reason been that Nigeria has a good history with power and Incumbency.
The populace is truly fed up with this current administration but what makes us think Buhari will be better? No one is doubting the fact that this administration haven’t lived up to the standards promised when we elected them without shoes back in 2011. No one is doubting that, no one!
If the APC had presented someone else other than Buhari, it is safe to say they would have been coasting into the elections. But then we all fail to see the silver lining in the cloud.
What if Buhari is truly a changed man? Yes, he jailed people when he was a military leader, he campaigned for Sharia rule but are we not all free to publicly express our religious beliefs? Especially when that belief is strongly supported in the book your religion is based on? Why are we holding it against Buhari for standing publicly with his faith?
Those saying Buhari will Islamize the country are far-fetched, they forget his Vice President is a Christian, a Pastor at that.
You see, we really can’t tell which Buhari will turn up at Aso Rock if he is elected just as we really don’t know which Jonathan will turn up for his second term? Who knows, he may do better, or worse. Like I said earlier, we don’t know until we vote.
You see why so many Nigerians are still undecided about which risk to take, I pray which ever you take leads us aright…as for me; I remain neutral which is why I will vote for a neutral candidate. There are 24 other candidates after all.

Stay True!

Miracle Roch
@Mr_GudMan

Pandora’s Box of Youth

Everything we humans need fall under these prevalent categories of food, clothing and shelter. Whatever it is you need find their habitat under these three listings. Hence, an anomaly arises whenever one or all of these three things are not available. Part of what the modern day government (democracy as is so called) should ideally do is provide these three things or a means through which these three things can be attained. We begin to desire these three things during our youth. It is therefore not surprising that you’ll find the unhappiest youths all over the world here in Nigeria (accordint to the Youth Wellbeing Index by the International Youth Foundation and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies). The answer is not farfetched. The three basic things that top the priority of youths all over the world are being denied youths here in Nigeria in broad daylight. What is more shocking is the fact that these things have not been given to us as a lack of inadequacy but simply due to sheer corruption and greed. How fitting that these basic needs have been taken away from youths and given to the ailing and sickly older generation.
What these people at the top don’t understand is that the future and strength of every economy lies in the engaging capabilities of its youth. A nation that has not made adequate plans to stock up its future will only stumble when it gets there. It is hence not surprising that we boast a large number of people living under a dollar, it is no surprising that the state of things in this country is becoming worse, no surprise that the name Nigeria has slowly lost its significance when it comes to things that matter. The reason being that the youths – supposed image makers – are disgruntled. They haven’t been put into consideration and it is adversely affecting our economy. When youths are side-lined, our economy should follow suit. If we must revive our economy, we must place back youth welfare on top our priority list. The things that even lead to a battered economy like crime are aided by youths, when youths are angry, their young blood can’t resist the lure of being busy so then engage in vices, they contribute to the societal decadence, all the things that can crash an economy are propagated by youths. Image what the best case scenario would be when these youths are given something legitimate to do, something permissible to hold on to, something to reassure self-worth. What if?
Some of the youths around that have refused to soil their hands begin to seek solace elsewhere, in a country (and world at large) where education has been hyped as the key to greener pastures, it is not surprising to see youths striving to get some form of education. And this, is where we have failed as a country. We have failed to provide an alternative hence the zealous ones amongst the youths seek solace overseas, in countries where the standards are better; to provide education nonetheless. We see countries like Australia blossoming because the environment has been made a safe haven – a paradise for youths, even the Australian PM, Julia Gillard in a youth in her own right. Ever since she assumed office, 80% of the projects she has embarked on have been centred on schools and youths in general. That why you will unsurprisingly find the happiest youths in Australia. Most of the countries we try to emulate economically have a strong bond with their future – with their youths.
Until we try to go back to the basics – the basics of the first paragraph – of providing food, shelter and clothing, only then will we have taken that major first step towards this journey of a thousand miles.

Stay True!
Miracle Roch.

@Mr_GudMan on Twitter

The Nigerian Conundrum

The perpetual question of whether Nigeria is a nation or a conglomerate of nations is one that has always caused a large furore wherever the issues of our polity are being discussed. Fingers have been pointed at the forceful amalgamation of 1914 by Lord Lugard, others have pointed at religious bigotry and jingoism, others at the ethno-linguistic structure, some others have pointed at different things, but one constant factor in whatever reason anyone brings up is the conspicuous fact of laying the blame at the feet of another and the sheer withdrawal from responsibility.
On the 29th of May 1999, the military government gave way to a civilian regime; democracy was then considered the best way through which leaders are elected since the military government brought a lot of ‘bad blood’. Since then, the 29th of May has been engraved into our history and placed in our archives since it marks the ‘glorious’ transition to a representative government. It has become for us Nigerians, a yearly national holiday.
However, with the widespread corruption and mismanagement, with the economic downslide, with the decaying infrastructure, with the gross national insecurity, can one say that we are reaping the dividends of democracy? Since the kick off of democracy in Nigeria, successive administrations have paid lip service to the needs of the people; our leaders have been interested only in enriching themselves hence sacrificing national service on the altar of selfish interests. A cursory look at the Nigerian leadership structure will reveal that it is a mere recycle bin with nothing to write home about, where dirty politicians push buttons and have their way at the expense of the populace. It is in line with this that Prof. Jega once said that “there is no civility, hardly any decorum, too much crudity with an unfathomable aggression and violence in the arena of Nigerian politics”. As a result of these anomalies, Nigeria is a country divided against itself, ethnic and religious dichotomy remains the basis upon which most actions are taken. We have more differences than similarities and the Civil War is a proof to that, so is the Niger-Delta crisis and the recent threat to Nigeria- Boko Haram is the biggest of all proofs.
Permit me to highlight some very important periods on Nigeria’s path to apathy: the genesis of it all was January 1914, when the amalgamation took place to satisfy selfish economic interests of our colonial masters- Britain. How justifiable is the amalgamation of two protectorates with entirely different norms and beliefs without their consent? Another important period was October 1, 1960- the independence day. Our pseudo- nationalists could not see beyond their noses, they never laid solid foundations for the continuity of unity and the advancement of national development, hence, the subsequent coups which continued like a chain reaction. Let’s not also forget the 29th of May, 1999 – Handover to an administration brought about by an incredible election process. More recently, the Niger Delta crisis came to the front burner, even though it has now been calmed. It is important to note here that prior to the grant of amnesty to the Niger Delta militants, the Niger Delta area was a place funding the whole country but suffering the most, a place “whose squalor is a fall out from its splendour and whose poverty is a product of its wealth”. The commencement of a generation of agitation by its youths was probably justifiable. The most recent threat to our national security is the Boko Haram, a political tool disguised as a religious sect. This is just a handful of the problems Nigeria face as a country, how about the epileptic power supply? How about the bad roads that have become death traps? How about the massive unemployment?
What is the way forward? There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is in a mess right now but what can we do? As Nigerian students in the University of Nigeria, we can actually do something, we can individually distinguish ourselves in our day-to-day activities, being upright in all our endeavours, working based on merit and not fear or favour. If we imbibe this attitude, we will one day be heard and the call for change will become inevitable and irresistible. Just like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, I will advise that you do not always think of what your country can do for you but also think of what you can do for your country. Do not neglect this call, unless you are ready to see your loved ones blown away by bombs, unless you are contented with the state of things. Make no mistakes, despite the corruption by the powers that be, power still lies with the people and if we painstakingly persevere, we shall prevail for only then shall the restoration of the dignity of man be complete. Do not think that you are insignificant and that whatever you do cannot change the course of the country. You are the solution to Nigeria’s problem. Please let us as lions (the kings of the jungle) be at the vanguard of this movement for change.
Finally, I will like to borrow the words of the Ikemba of Nnewi when he said that “a Nigerian is and must always be a Nigerian, as Nigerian as every other Nigerian in the concept of Nigeria.

Stay True!

Follow me on Twitter @Mr_GudMan

Forward

It is very easy for us all to advocate a change in leadership all because of the state of our economy.
But before we go into the make up of the impact leadership has let’s go near…

I am Nigeria, before I go into blaming Nigeria; I gotta blame myself because I am Nigeria. So…
I don’t expect Nigeria to be respected by others if I don’t respect people;
I don’t expect Nigeria to follow due process if I jump queue;
I don’t expect Nigeria to grow if I’m too lazy to work…
Yes, let’s start seeing Nigeria as our own because if we personally don’t get it right within…we can’t expect Nigeria to get it right outside. Until I understand that in the next 20 years; I’d be in a position of leadership and that the values I’ll nurture and inculcate into the system would be the same values I have now which have led to nowhere then will Nigeria become great. It’s time for me to live right because I am Nigeria; if I don’t do it right…Nigeria won’t get it right.
Until we come to realization of this fact; then and only then will we be able to bridge the lacuna between reality and phantasm!