Nigeria: A Failed State Or A World Capital Of Poverty? By Abdulkadir Salaudeen

Nigerians should brace up for the many hard times ahead. The future is very dim and very gloomy. This is not an unnecessary pessimism; it is a reality which every mindful person can see. The country has become an enslaved territory with ‘sovereignty’— a phantom sovereignty. If failures are categorized, this government is a failure of an unprecedented category. In other words, a new category needs to be created to fitly capture the depth of the country’s reversion into the abyss of economic helplessness and hopelessness. Before it tanks completely (though many believe it has), there is need for a retreat with clearheaded participants on how to chart a new map to salvage the country. This is not a call for restructuring, it is far away from that. The problem of Nigeria is not restructuring, nor is it amending the constitution. It is the lack of sincerity and strong political will, unalloyed patriotism and commitment on the part of its political leaders. While the 1999 constitution is obviously not perfect, so are other constitutions in the world.  

It should be noted that in our 21 years of democracy, we have had a Yoruba President from South-West (Obasanjo) along with a Fulani Vice President from North-East (Atiku). We have had a Fulani President from North-West (Yar’Adua) paired with a South-South Vice President (Jonathan). So did we have a South-south President (Jonathan) assisted by a Vice President from the North-West (Sambo). Presently we are ruled by a North-West President (Buhari) with a South-West Vice (Osinbajo). Though, we have not had President from the South-East, and even If one of them is installed, it can be intelligently guessed that it will not make any difference. The point is: Nigeria’s problem is not that of the ethnic coloration of those at the helms of affairs; it is systemic. Or simply put, it is the omnipresence of corruption and lack of patriotism, and absence of humanity on the part of most of the leadership (the political gladiators). This cuts across all ethnic groups and political parties.


It is not also the problem of educational qualifications of those leaders or lack of it thereof. We have had Presidents with qualifications ranging from controversial SSCE to PhD; no difference! Admittedly, it is better if our leaders are WELL educated. What is more, both Christians and Muslims have ruled with disastrous results. It is as if we are jinxed not to progress as a nation. Just as the country is growing geometrically population wise, so, it has been disproportionately reversing on the plane of development and sliding into the chasm of underdevelopment.  
If APC is said to be worst (and indeed it is), before it was PDP which will always be remembered as the precursor of APC in catapulting Nigeria on the trajectory of failure. This government only helps to further the project like a relay race where batons are passed from one athletic runner to the other. In the first half of 2020, the FG spent close to 90 per cent of its revenue on servicing debts, according to Nigerian Tribune. This is the reason why the masses are forced to cough out moneys which they do not earn. This is done in form of increase in tax, fuel price, electricity bill, and what have you. This is biting hard on Nigerians; unprecedentedly manifested in the soaring cost of food and other items. This is a manifestation of a failed state. So, where do we go from here? 

It is still under this administration that Nigeria was classified as the 14th failed state in the world among the 178 countries ranked; and more damning, 9th in Africa according to the 2019 Fragile State Index. Any reasonable Nigerian can roughly guess what the ranking would be in 2020. We are not in frying pan anymore; our conditions have so deteriorated that we have somersaulted from the frying pan into the fire. This ranking does not come to us as a surprise.  Only those who are disconnected (or pretend to be disconnected) from reality harbour scintilla of doubt about the authenticity of the ranking. If the grinding poverty in Nigeria has not punctured our memories and they can still serve us well, we should recall that Nigeria was declared the World Capital of Poverty with about half of its population living below extreme poverty line in the same year (2019), overtaking India. In that succession, Nigeria overtakes India again as world capital for under-five deaths. It is as if Nigeria is very adept at relay race, but unfortunately its race has been towards poverty, underdevelopment, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, unemployment, etc.  

In an affirmation of Nigeria’s status as a failed state, if not the Failed State, the most recent Global Terrorism Index ranked it the third most terrorized country in the world and first in Africa. Cast differently, Nigeria has become the most dangerous country to reside in Africa. Not Somalia! Not Southern Sudan! Not Mali, despite the juntas! The doubting Thomas should cross-check these facts and statistics, and explain how Nigeria is not a failed state. He should also explain the irony of how a state suddenly became a failed state under the leadership of the ‘best president’; this is what political jobbers and other praise singers of this government want us to believe. It will also interest us to know who bankrolls these ranking bodies to paint a grotesque picture of Nigeria: The Gi(ant) of Africa.

It is clear from the foregoing that it is a futile exercise to make any difference between Nigeria as a failed state and world capital of poverty. What should puzzle the brain is to declare a country word capital of poverty but not a failed state. Now that Nigeria’s status is clearly written on the global wall, denying the fact would be politically ill-advised, economically detrimental and socially nauseating. What our president and the ruling party should do is to face the reality. This government should retrace its steps to see where it derailed. My earnest and sincere advice to the President is that he should stop dancing to the music of his praise singers and his bigoted idolaters, no matter how much he loves them. For they have nothing good for him. He should take seriously (with the aim of leaving behind good legacies) the criticisms of his critics, no matter how much he hates them. While doing so, he should use his wisdom to distinguish between constructive criticisms and dull criticisms. He should always have it in mind that posterity will judge him. A word, as they say, is enough for the wise.

I pray the dehumanization of Nigerians across the globe will stop as the country aspires to regain its lost glory. Nigerians are indeed dehumanised, even in miniscule Ghana. Finally, I pray the APC will be guided to take Nigeria out of the slough into which it has driven it, after taking the retrogressive baton from the PDP of no blessed memory.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen



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