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THE FALLEN GIANT (opinion)

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THE FALLEN GIANT (opinion)

Nigeria is known as the world most populous Black Country in Africa and the seventh populous country in the world; it has a population of over 200 million as at late 2019 and with over 200 ethnic groups speaking up to 500 distinct languages. It is believed that Nigeria has the strongest growing economy in Africa and also an emerging market in the world’s economy. Nigeria has the third largest youth population in the world with almost half of its population as youths. These and many more reasons has made the country stand out in Africa and referred to as the “Giant of Africa” 

One of the things this giant country was known for is its military strength. Nigeria has taken part in several peace keeping missions right from the time late General Aguiyi Ironsi-led troops for the first peace mission to Congo in the 1960s. The success of this mission brought the Nigerian army to spotlight as a reliable peace keeping partner. Sadly, Nigeria now ranks 4th in Africa and 42 in the world behind South Africa in the global power index. For over 10years now the Nigerian army has been battling to eradicate the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents in the northern part of the country with little or no victory with spikes of insecurity, banditry and kidnapping increasing by the day. 

This giant was also once popular for its active participation and success in sport, notable among many is Atlanta 1996 when “Nigeria wins Brazil” I remember while growing up that victory became a song, we were so proud of the world stars this giant produced, the likes of, but not limited to Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Taribo West, Tijani Babangida, Daniel Amokachi, Celestine Babayaro. These stars and a host of others put this giant in the face of the world. We had so much strength and zeal for sports, football most particularly; we were a team to reckon with. But now Nigeria is almost nowhere to be found in the sporting world. The ministry of youths and sports is among ministries with low budgetary allocation of course you don’t expect it to compete with international standards anymore. But a few are doing us proud out there like the heavy weight champion Anthony Joshua, Odion Ighalo of Manchester United, Michael Obi of Chelsea.  

Our educational system was beautiful; we housed some of the best universities in Africa, which gave us room to sit on ranking tables with international universities, however the stories have change, Nigeria ranks 124th position in the global education system and 25th in Africa behind Rwanda. The arts and entertainment industry has had its glory days as well, Chinua Achebe’s “things fall apart” was described as Africa’s most popular bestselling work of literature, Wole Soyinka was also the first Nobel laureate winner in literature in Africa (1986), lucky for us, the likes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helon Habila and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani are still holding the torchlight and doing us proud. The bumming music industry with the likes of legendary Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Don Jazzy, Asa, 9nice, MI and Tuface (now 2Baba) and many other artist have set the pace for African music however, the music industry is now crowded with Nigeria now sharing the spotlight with the likes of Black Coffee (South Africa) Sarkodie (Ghana) Mr Eazi (Ghana) Master KG (South African) among many others. This depict we need to do more.  

From time immemorial, our health sector has never competed with international standards; more worrying is the fact that it is further going down the drain with maternal/child mortality on the increase, lack of provision for the poor and vulnerable to access health care services, poor personnel management among several malfunctions in the sector. 

It is sad that the known giant is living in its past glory, it is rather unfortunate that other countries that once looked up to this giant are now more gigantic than the giant himself, competing in international matters where the giant country should be sitting comfortably without any threats whatsoever. South Africa sits as a member of BRICS with Brazil, Russia, India and China as other member countries in the association. BRIC is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China until South Africa (the only country from the African continent) became a member ten years ago making it BRICS. It is an association of five major emerging national economies; they have a great influence on regional affairs. Except South Africa, all other BRICS members are gigantic countries similar to Nigeria with large population and fast growing economies so one would wonder why Nigeria is not in this association as the giant that it is known for. South Africa has begun to level up with the giant title; the country is certified by the World Bank as a newly industrialized country with brands spread all over, notable among many are: MultiChoice, MTN, BMW South Africa and Shoprite. Ghana on the other hand is the new conducive environment for businesses; in 2019 Dunlop Michelin shut down its manufacturing plant in Nigeria and moved to Ghana. Interestingly, Ghana has been described as the new world’s factory according to Deutsche Welle a German media firm.

There have been several calls for Nigeria to diversify its economy and industrialize the country, sadly, these calls have yielded no result as the giant country still depends majorly on crude oil export 60years after independence. Industrialization is linked directly to economic growth and development; all the developed countries today are highly industrialized producing secondary products from primary production of underdeveloped countries like Nigeria. The state of infrastructure, insufficient power supply and the high exchange rates of the dollar to naira have crippled the efforts of the private sector geared towards industrialization. For Nigeria to step up to the level of other developed countries, conscious efforts has to be channeled towards industrialization, the giant has a good population to efficiently run several industries that will further boost its economy.  Currently, this giant sits as the 146th of 180 corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International, two l steps backwards from its former position of 144th in 2018. Gone are the days when Nigeria lived in the worlds good books but now, corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the once great giant leaving every sector in so much disarray with little or no hope of him getting back up to his feet. This giant has gone into recession twice in recent times having to depend on borrowed resources that is further pushing him deep into the ground. One would wonder, with the whooping sums that have been borrowed and are still being borrowed, why is the giant still down? It is a good thing that other African countries have emerged, but would we still say that Nigeria is the giant of Africa?

Author: Kangmwa Gofwen

Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria

gofwenjoy@gmail.com

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