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.