opinionBy Sam Nda-Isaiah
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a subsidiary of The Economist Group of London. The Economist calls itself a newspaper even though to the rest of us, it looks more like a magazine. But that is the mystique of The Economist, which was first published in 1843 to take part in "a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress." The EIU is an independent business within The Economist Group. It is respected and very influential.
Through integrity, study, inquisition and fact finding, EIU offers forcasting and advisory services to their discerning clients, which have included the world's intelligence services and high networth investors. The EIU is famous for its country reports, industry reports, country risk service reports and five-year country economic forecasts.
In its latest report, EIU has rated Nigeria the "worst place to be born in 2013". This is the first time Nigeria is achieving this rare feat reserved only for very few countries in the world in the 66 years the EIU has been in this business. Nigeria came last of the 80 countries analysed and researched. Nigeria is ranked 80th out of the 80 countries considered with a score of 4.74 out of 10, just below Kenya which scored 4.91. The other African states rated - Angola, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa - came out much better places than Nigeria, with South Africa, placed 53rd position, emerging the best Africa could provide. The study measures the parameters that provide the best environment for the safest, healthiest and most prosperous life in the coming years. The quality-of-life index deployed in the analysis and research was calibrated around critical areas like trust in public institutions, crime and government policies.
The best overall countries are in Europe with Switzerland at 8.22 points leading the pack, followed by Norway, Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands in that order. If you have ever visited these countries, you'd know why. The United States, which came first in 1988 when EIU started the survey, tied at the 16th position this time with Germany at 7.38 points.
Even war-torn Syria at the 73rd position did much better than Nigeria. That means that Syria, in spite of the war going on, has better quality-of-life than Nigeria because government policies in Syria are still friendlier than in Jonathan's Nigeria. Those who did this survey do not know Jonathan and are not among those who want to bring down President Jonathan "because they lost the last elections".
This report is coming on the heels of the Mo Ibrahim Governance report which graded Nigeria for the first time since it was established as among the 10 worst governed nations in Africa. For all intents and purposes, both the EIU report and the Mo Ibrahim Governance report are the report cards on President Jonathan's stewardship. These two reports show clearly that Jonathan has failed with distinction.
Corruption compromises the totality of governance and if an estimated N5 trillion has been stolen in the short time that Jonathan has been in power and the president is so incapacitated to take action, then, why should anyone be surprised that Nigeria is doing so badly? And, nothing proves this than the fact that, in spite of the scant economic activity in the country since Jonathan came to power, more than 150 private jets have been purchased by individual Nigerians in the last two years. Most of these new owners of private jets are government deals men and fly-by-night contractors.
Things will obviously get worse for Nigeria in the remaining days of Jonathan's tenure unless someone tells the president very quickly that no nation on earth has ever progressed with the kind of corruption that has taken over his government. The least Nigerians expect from their president is to start prosecuting those accused of graft and corruption, but can he? It appears there's something we don't know stopping him.
So far, the president has been protecting corruption as all those who have one case or the other move around with several policemen (paid by tax-payers money) to offer them protection. This is certainly not transformation.
For some days now, President Barack Obama has made spirited efforts to speak with our own President Goodluck Jonathan to thank him personally for his prompt congratulatory message to him on his re-election. The United States' president has tried several times to speak with the Nigerian president but the Aso Rock telephones simply refused to connect.
I am aware that Aso Rock has its own telephone network different from the rest of us. If you think this is very embarrassing to Nigeria, you should wait till the end of the story. After the glitches, the White House officials coordinated with the embassy of the United States in Abuja and the Nigerian embassy in Washington, DC and obtained a number through which the Nigerian president can be reached. Then, on Monday, November 12, exactly two weeks ago today, President Obama placed a call to President Jonathan through the number that was supplied.
The United States president called twice, got through twice, the phone rang but it was not picked up. This is not only a scandal, it is a total disgrace. And, by the way, just like every president in the world, shouldn't our president get a hotline through which he can be reached by strategic partners such as the president of the United States? This is simply wonderful!!!