• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Constant blacklisting of Nigeria is disturbing

Let’s kill corruption so that Africa’s future would be better than its past

Several rankings of Nigeria by global organisations are negative. While Nigeria’s top managers should step up efforts in tackling the factors producing the country’s poor rankings in various fields, they should also constantly put forward positive narratives about Nigeria for image corrections. Daniel Obi writes

Nigeria is associated with many wrong things at international circles than good. Many of the 200 million citizens are discomforted by the several negative narratives about the country as they are confronted with them at different global points.

As Nigeria is battling with internal issues such as poor economic growth, Covid-19 pandemic, effects of endSARS and recession which the country slipped into in the Q4, United States tagged Nigeria a non-religious freedom country.

Religious Freedom ranking

Last Monday, the United States placed Nigeria – for the first time, on a religious freedom blacklist. This simply means lack of respect for religious freedom as there are violations, intolerance and killings associated with or against right of faith.

For years, Nigeria has been maintaining what many people describe as ‘a delicate balance’ between Christians and Muslims, but recently church groups have been expressing concerns over killings, intimidations which may have warranted the US action. The blacklisting may be followed with sanctions.

In certain areas in the country, members of different faith face harassment, intimidation and violence. Early last year, the murder of the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa state, Reverend Lawan Andimi, was widely criticised. But this did not end the murder of other prominent and ordinary Nigerians.

President Muhammadu Buhari has severally condemned the killings as he has often urged Nigerians not to let themselves be divided along religious lines but it is not sure any of the killers have been arrested or prosecuted.

It is reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Nigeria is a country of particular concern” for religious freedom. “These annual designations show that when religious freedom is attacked, we will act,” Pompeo was quoted as saying. Under U.S. law, nations on the blacklist must make improvements or face sanctions, including losses of U.S. government assistance.

Terrorism ranking

In 2019, the Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria third among 163 countries on the scale of key global security trends and patterns of terrorism. The report reveals that Nigeria accounted for 13 per cent of all terrorism-related deaths globally in 2018, with a 33 per cent rise in the number of fatalities compared to 2017.

Only Iraq and Afghanistan were ranked worse than Africa’s most populous country, which has been dealing with violent insurgency in its north-eastern region since 2009. The report was published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.

Other countries in the top 10 rank are Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and India. Yemen, Philippines and the Democratic Republic complete the list.

In Nigeria, activities of insurgent groups such as Fulani Herdsmen and particularly Boko Haram considered as Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist group largely account for the poor ranking.

Tracing the origins of Boko Haram, Lai Mohammed the present Minister of Information in 2014 while speaking to House of Commons, London said “when the sect “Nigerian Taliban” the precursor of today’s monster called Boko Haram, started off in 2002, it was another fringe sect along the same pattern of many before it, which started off under the cloak of religion but were in real sense, in response to the widespread poverty, deprivation and the injustice that have hallmarked post-independent Nigeria.

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Mohammed recalled that before now, the most remembered, for the scale of its share brutality and mass killings, was the Maitaisine Crisis in the northern city of Kano that left thousands of people dead in 1980. “A decisive response by the then Federal Government saw the crushing of the sect, which was fiercely anti-modernism. Maitaisine was the nickname of the sect founder, Mohammed Marwa, whose preaching attracted a huge number of youths, unemployed immigrants and others who felt that mainstream Muslim teachers were not doing enough for their communities.

“By December 1980, the group had started launching attacks against other religious figures and the police, forcing the government to call in the military.

“Fast forward to 2009, almost three decades later, Boko a Haram, a salafi-jihadi group that espouses messianic revivalism of Islamic religion and cultural practices ( sharia) and which translates literally as ” Western education forbidden” was in full swing and following in the path of the Maitaisine”.

“In recorded interviews by the BBC with the late founder of the group (Mohammed Yusuf), he stated that ‘western-styled education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our belief in Islam’ and ‘our land was an Islamic state before the colonial masters turned it to a Kafir (infidel) land. The current system is contrary to true Islamic belief’.

According to Lai Mohammed, it is no use hiding the fact that the emergence of Boko Haram and its armed insurgency from 2009, has changed the political, economic, security and socio-cultural landscape of Nigeria.

Corruption ranking

On fight against corruption, Nigeria is ranked poorly at 146 position out of 180 countries by Transparency International. The ranking in 2019 is in spite of Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign of Buhari-led government.

The ranking is a revelation that corruption, a factor that hampers development is still endemic in the country. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has in a report noted that corruption is a pressing issue in Nigeria which affects public finances, business investment as well as standard of living. In the report, it listed three dynamic effects of corruption to include; Lower governance effectiveness, especially through smaller tax base and inefficient government expenditure.

Before his election as President in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to tackle corruption which was one of his several promises. The other two are security of lives and properties and restoring the economy.

Believing that Transparency International ranking did not reflect the true situation in Nigeria, government said “In terms of the fight against corruption, we have been doing more, we have done more, and we will continue to do more out of inherent conviction and desire on our part to fight corruption devoid of any extraneous considerations relating to the rating by Transparency International”

Human Rights Abuse

There are reports of plethora of abuses of human rights in Nigeria. This ranges from arbitrary, unlawful, extrajudicial killings to police or army brutality, torture and other ill-treatment meted on Nigerians. Other abuses include forced evictions from homes, injustice and disobedience to court orders.

A report by Amnesty International states that “evictions are carried out without genuine consultation, adequate notice and compensation, or alternative accommodation. Law enforcement officials sometimes use force while carrying out evictions, beating and injuring residents, including children”.

Nigerian “prisons are overcrowded; the majority of inmates are pre-trial detainees, some held for many years. Human rights defenders and journalists face intimidation and harassment. According to the report, children are routinely detained with adults in police and prison cells.

Police constant brutality and human right abuses over the period pushed Nigerians in early October, 2020 to defy the powers of guns when the youth in their thousands staged a protest, EndSARS.

A report says the “Nationwide protest against police brutality began on Oct. 8, after a video emerged in early October showing police officers thought to be from the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or (SARS allegedly shooting and killing a young man in Nigeria’s southern Delta State. Although Nigerian authorities denied the reports, protests erupted across the country calling to disband the unit. Though they were leaderless, the demonstrations were mostly driven by young people who say they have been unfairly profiled by SARS”

The protest led to burning of police stations, killing of some policemen and counter force by the army that killed some protesters. Government is presently investing allegations of police brutality.

Ease of Doing Business

Nigeria is ranked 131 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the World Bank annual ratings. The rank of Nigeria improved to 131 in 2019 from 146 in 2018.

At 131, the rate is still poor but the improvement from 2018 to 2019 ranking, indicates that “the government is making efforts to improve the business environment and investor confidence, which will automatically attract more investors into the country”, Deloitte said in its report.

However, the Anglo American multinational professional services network that specialises in audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services said efforts must be intensified towards improving indices with unfavourable rankings.

Money Laundering ranking

Transparency International said in a report said the susceptibility of money laundering and terrorist financing is increasing in Nigeria. The organisation noted that the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index rated Nigeria as the 14th most vulnerable country to money laundering and terrorist financing in 2019.

Poor Infrastructure

Nigeria is likely to score dismal point on infrastructure development as roads, electricity, schools with many children out of school and potable water are in their poor state.

Unfortunately, these negative rankings and black listing have placed Nigeria on dark spots which have assisted to dent the image of the country. Unfortunately, these international rankings of Nigeria for negative occurrence attract wide attention than the country’s achievements. Many of the rankings may be true but they are not different from situations in other countries.

While government is encouraged to address the indices and factors that always dent Nigeria’s image and put the country on international black spot, it is also important that top managers of Nigeria are concerned by regularly putting forward positive narratives of Nigeria.