Nigeria, last week, got another damning verdict from the Mo lbrahim African Governance Index which placed the country 14th out of 16 West African countries, and 43rd out of a total of 52 nations featured in the 2012 ranking of governance in Africa.
The index, published on October 15, said Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt dropped in two of the four categories used to assess good governance on the index – Safety and Rule of Law, and Participation and Human Rights. It, however, singled out Nigeria as the worst performer of the four. Other two categories in which countries were scored are Sustainable Economic Opportunities and Human Development.
None of the continent’s former leaders won the $3.2 million Award for Excellence in African Leadership set up by Mo lbrahim, a Sudanese billionaire and philanthropist, in 2007. For the third time in six years, the Prize Committee said it reviewed a number of eligible candidates but none of them met the criteria needed to win the award, which is about excellence in leadership.
With Nigeria’s dismal performance this year, the country dropped into the bottom ten countries in the overall rankings for the first time. Nigeria had ranked 39th in 2008, 35th in 2009, 40th in 2010 and 41st in 2011. Abdoulie Janneh, a board member of the foundation, described the performance of Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa as a concern, given the vast natural and human resources of the regional powers.
The index is based on 88 indicators obtained from 23 independent data providers from Africa and internationally. Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and the Seychelles kept their places as the top four performers, while Somalia was on the bottom rung, as it has been since the index was first published.
We deplore the pattern of consistent deterioration in Nigeria’s governance evidenced in these rankings. The nation’s poor rating on this index should be a wake up call to the authorities to improve governance and address the areas in which we scored poorly. To improve the nation’s governance quality, Nigeria should engage ombudsmen such as the media, civil society organisations and other relevant groups to deliberate on the identified areas and proffer ways to improve governance in the country.
These shameful ratings speak volumes about the crisis of leadership in Africa. It is another confirmation that leadership in Africa is declining and that something needs to be done about it urgently. For Nigeria, our rating on this index is no surprise.
The surprise would have been if the country got a good ranking. Looking at the indices employed for the index such as safety and rule of law, human rights, sustainable economic opportunities and human development, it is glaring that many of these are absent in the country. Nigeria does not need any external index to capture the dearth of good leadership in the country. This verdict may be harsh, but it is close to the truth. Our peculiar situation is a fallout of our twisted political process that does not throw up the best for important political offices.
This latest rating from Mo Ibrahim Foundation tallies with other poor ratings Nigeria has received from other organisations such as Transparency International and Fitch. The latter, in its latest ranking, decried the failure of government’s reforms to feed through a higher growth rate. Fitch put Nigeria’s long-term foreign rating at ‘BB–’ on account of the country’s “vulnerability to oil shocks, high inflation and governance challenges.”
These poor ratings from independent international organisations should be a challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. It is a sobering assessment that should set the government thinking on how to get the country out of the pit of bad governance.
This is no time to try to fault this index. Instead, it should be taken as a signal to design institutional systems that make for good governance. It is obvious that these international rating agencies speak with one voice so, the challenge is for our leaders to find a way to govern well. The poor rating should be used as an opportunity to look at areas in which Nigeria is lacking and make necessary amends.
Leadership should be seen as a sacred responsibility. It is public service. Therefore, our leaders should make the interest of the people paramount. There is no doubt that Nigerians are feeling the pinch of poor governance.
Successive governments have disappointed the people. We expect all levels of government in Nigeria to be worried over these poor indices. They should take it as a challenge to do better in the next edition.
Nigerian leaders need a change in their attitude to public service. If the idea of public service being an avenue to make money and dispense patronage persists, the country will continue to have the same poor score sheet on governance. The nation’s poor ranking on this index is an indictment of our leaders. It should ginger the government to roll out plans to improve performance in the identified indices in the years ahead.