FOR any student of Nigerian history or close watchers of its current affairs, the country’s lugubrious ranking on the inaugural Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI) released last week by the Singapore-based Chandler Institute of Governance could not have come as a surprise. In fact, it tracks the country’s ranking on similar indexes over the years by, for instance, the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI). More to the point, the country’s ranking of 102 out of 104 countries for which data were collected on a range of indicators accords with what ordinary Nigerians feel, know, and experience about their country on a daily basis.
Although a country’s performance in the CGGI is based on a range of indicators (there are 34 in all), its eventual ranking is determined on the basis of seven key “pillars”: leadership and foresight, robust laws and policies, strong institutions, financial stewardship, attractive marketplace, global influence and reputation, and helping people rise. Based on these pillars, Nigeria came in at 102, a mere two places above Zimbabwe and Venezuela, two countries that have experienced prolonged socio-economic and political distress. While Zimbabwe is continuing to pay the price for the late Robert Mugabe’s ill-advised land redistribution gambit, Venezuela, an oil producer like Nigeria, has yet to recover from the spendthrift and frivolity of the Hugo Chavez years (1999- 2013).
Nigeria’s proximity to these countries at the basement of the index should give every Nigerian food for thought, for it basically suggests that the country is no different from two societies where law and order has completely broken down, with the state-society compact effectively in abeyance. Yet, no one, not even the most steadfast patriot, can argue against the country’s ranking on the index. With the Muhammadu Buhari administration at its most feckless, the country has become more or less ungoverned, and ordinary citizens are sandwiched between the banditry of outlaws and the violent recklessness of those charged with the provision of security.
To be fair, not all of the problems highlighted or implied by the CGGI can be blamed on the Buhari government. As a matter of fact, to blame all of them on the state or any single government is to engage in willful misrecognition. The truth of the matter is that Nigeria has been broken for a long time, and evaluations like the CGGI’s merely underscore what every Nigerian knows to be true. For instance, both corruption and insecurity have definitely worsened under the current administration, but as we all know, both problems predate it.
If that is the case, the quest for solutions to the Nigerian quandary must go beyond this administration and the state as an entity. If Nigeria’s low ranking did not come as a surprise, neither did that of Finland, Switzerland, and Singapore respectively at the top of the pile. To begin to chart a path out of the country’s current quagmire, Nigerians should study these countries closely with a view to understanding and distilling the reasons for their success. According to the Chandler Institute, these countries stand out because they have consistently invested in “strong government capabilities” which is “vital to securing positive outcomes for citizens and businesses.”
There is no shame in adopting good business and political practices from other climes. The time to start is now.