Nigeria and Nigerian issues tend to do badly on global comparative lists and indices. For instance, Lagos, Nigeria was the fifth worst city in the world on the Global Liveability Index in 2010. On the 2009 Mercer Cost of Living Index, Lagos was one of the most expensive cities in the Africa/Middle East region. The country has also consistently been ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world by Transparency International. And now, the 2011 Prosperity Index is one more list to add to the list.
A SAD, STRUGGLING LOT
According to Legatum International, a London-based group, Nigeria is the 104th least prosperous country out of 110 profiled for the Prosperity Index. Sharing dour company with Nigeria on the list are 29 other countries including India, Cambodia, Iran and Guatemala. However, a large number of the least prosperous countries on the list are also African, such as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda.
WHAT WAS CONSIDERED IN THE RANKINGS
Though I tend to question many of these frequently occurring rankings, and particularly those that present Nigeria as one of the worst in the world for everything (save for corruption), I must admit that in this case, Legatum International may be correct in its assessment of the Nigerian situation. Consider the following specific indices that contributed to the 104th ranking. Average satisfaction of individuals is measured at 4.2 out of 10, which given the current protests against the more than 100 percent increase in fuel, Boko Haram insecurity, corruption and failure of government to meet people's needs, is probably even too generous. Health expectancy is pegged at a measly 42 percent, and that is worse than it was at the time of Nigeria's independence in 1960. According to the data, only 13 percent of Nigerians trust their fellow country men and women, a fact that almost any Nigerian will quickly agree to.
OTHER EXTREMELY DIRE INDICES
In what will only be a shock to Nigerian officials, the Nigerian government slithered in as the second to worst government of those ranked. Specifically, "[t]he Nigerian government is inefficient and undemocratic, inspiring low confidence in its institutions" a conclusion that is apt. Furthermore, the report went on to call the government "one of the most ineffectively run in the world." Additionally, the country was the fourth worst in health and education; the sixth worst in business opportunities; and the fifth worst in security. The country's economy, for all the hype around it, was ranked the tenth worst, which makes sense given the poverty it contains. For a country that wants to be a top economy by 2020, which is only 8 years away, Nigeria needs a miracle. This is even if these rankings are inaccurate, because tackling the perception of these problems may be even more insurmountable than remedying the issues themselves.
BUT STILL A SILVER LINING
Despite the sober indicators, Nigeria was ranked higher in other things. Nigerians were recognized for being helpful to someone else, with 30 percent donating to charity. This is in line with a 2010 poll that showed Nigeria as the 34th most giving country in the world. A reported 40 percent of citizens also gave of their time through volunteering. These are positive factors that must be fostered and even used to benefit the country as a whole. For that to happen, however,the Nigerian government and Nigerians themselves must look beyond personal advancement and sectarian division to focus on improving the lot of all Nigerians. When there is a true commitment to this pursuit, all Nigerians and their children will live in a country that is more prosperous in wealth, social economy and the other ways that matter in the long term.