Are you making plans to be born this year? Well, I must warn you to be born anywhere else but Nigeria. If you want to give birth this year too, don’t give birth to those tiny, tender feet here in this place, go somewhere else. Find a better place, I warn you. You’re spoilt for choice aren’t you? There’s Afghanistan for you and if that doesn’t suffice, try Iraq then or even Somalia and I’ll tell you why.
Late last year, the Economic Intelligence Unit, a sister company of the London based Magazine; ‘The Economist’ published a report on ‘the worst and best places to be born in 2013’. According to the survey, Nigeria, our very own giant of Africa was ranked 80th out of, wait for this…80! Scoring just 4.74 points out of 10. Switzerland tops the chart as the ‘best place to be born in 2013’, South Africa comes in at 53rd and with 27 places above Nigeria it is adjudged by the EIU as the best place to be born in Africa.
Expectedly, though, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco (TEAM) all scored points ahead of Nigeria, even Angola fared better Nigeria. Yes, Angola!
If you’re finding this embarrassing I’m sorry but the survey was to smash more tomatoes on our faces when it further revealed that Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia were safer places to be born than Nigeria.
Now I couldn’t take it, I almost puked. It all looked like the reporters just wanted to mess with us. Ok, I could take the Angola joke but for the life of me, NOT Iraq, Afghanistan and OMG! Somalia! ‘Those guys are fleeing their war torn countries to Nigeria for refuge,’ I thought, so how come they are adjudged to be safer birth places than our country?
But then I looked closely and I discovered that the parameters used to arrive at their conclusion weren’t necessarily based on current Human Development Index (if it were, errr…I’m quite sure we would have fared better). The parameters were actually based on projections for the year 2030, when the children born this year would have come of age. This even worsens things for me as it translates to an uncertain future for our unborn children.
I quickly thought about the story of a certain Victor Chukwueke, born in Nigeria. He suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes massive life-threatening tumors on the face. Back in Nigeria he suffered stigmatization, was treated as an outcast and described as ‘UGLY’ because of how scarily distorted his face looked (and still is), but through the intervention of a Nun, he was taken to the US where a surgery was performed on him and despite his ‘deformity’ he was loved by friends and neighbours. He was later enrolled in school and just last year he graduated from the Wayne State University in Biochemistry with a CGPA of 3.82.
‘Should I call myself a victim or should I press forward to my dreams?’ he asks while giving his school’s graduation speech amidst thunderous applause. Today, Victor is about to pursue a medical career, something he may not have dreamt of had he remained in Nigeria. Maybe these kind of things are responsible for our poor rating. Boko Haram and our numerous security woes never came to my mind as one of the factors considered before dumping us at the base of that list, because there are some countries on that list who are ahead of us like SOMALIA (OMG! don’t remind me of this) and they have been plunged into outright war. What is considered here is the future of the coming generation, and while I sincerely find this survey’s result slightly laughable and Nigeria’s position on the list unacceptable, I have to accept too that we are the ones who have actually convincingly demonstrated to the world that we have no recourse to posterity in our socio economic calculations. So unborn children in Nigeria, like previous ones will have to be born in Europe or the US to always know they have a plan B while growing up here, or they will have to find a way, by hook or crook to be born into very rich homes or risk paying the price of being born into average families like some of us did.
If a bottle of coke sells at N70 now, how much will my first son buy the same item in his time? If we can barely buy any meaningful thing with N10, I want to know how much my daughter will need to buy her candies. How much will be the price of a nudu of garri in 20 years? Will I have to pay N600, 000 a term for each of my kids just for them to get a decent Primary education? Will there be well equipped hospitals for our children by 2030, or will we still be sending them to Ghana or Scotland to get their University education or will there even be free education here for them? Are the roads we are constructing durable enough to last beyond the times of my children so that they don’t have to bother about road construction in their time?
Frankly, I think the EIU survey has been uncharitable to our image as a country and that it doesn’t quite consider the entirety of the country in its survey. We may not be the worst place to be born in 2013, depending on what factors you are considering. Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Besides, the spate of serial/drive by killings in Europe poses enormous threat to their unborn children as the trend may become worse in a few years. In Nigeria we must be proactive, our infrastructure and our institutions must outlive us, our children must not suffer what we have suffered in this country. They mustn’t battle with generator sounds and fumes in their time, they must not travel to Ghana and Europe to get education, medical treatment etc. They mustn’t find potholes on our roads and corruption must be completely alien to them!!!
We must bequeath a transformed Nigeria to them, if not it will be right to say that we have merited our position on that list.
John Offiong [SAVVY]