Nigeria Ranks Lowest among African Powerhouses in Mo Ibrahim Index

16 Oct 2012

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CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Abimbola Akosile
Human rights, political freedom, transparency and accountability have deteriorated in four African “powerhouses” over the past six years, according to the 2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which was released Monday.

Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt dropped in the rankings in two of the four categories used in the index to assess good governance across the continent – safety and rule of law, and participation and human rights. The other two categories are sustainable economic opportunity and human development.

Nigeria was singled out as the worst performer of the four, dropping to the bottom 10 countries in the overall rankings for the first time. The country was ranked 14th out of the 16 countries in West Africa and 43rd out of the 52 countries listed overall.

The country was ranked 41st in 2011, 40th in 2010, 35th in 2009, and 37th in 2006. In the 2012 index, she obtained 11 points out of 100 in the areas of personal safety and infrastructure. However, Nigeria’s highest score was 73, in the area of national security.
The four power-houses, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya were ranked fifth, 14th and 25th respectively, while people’s freedom to participate in political processes has declined in each country. Kenya and South Africa also registered a decline in economic opportunities, while Egypt has shown a significant improvement in this area.

In the area of safety and rule of law, Nigeria scored 41 points; scored 35 points under accountability sub-category; 29 points under participation; 48 under rights and 38 points under gender. The country also scored 56 points under public management; 47 under business environment and 50 points under rural sector.

Under the welfare sub-category, Nigeria scored 45 points; 48 under education and 51 points under health.

In West Africa Ghana emerged first in ranking, placed at 7th position in the continent, while Benin Republic emerged 13th overall and second in West Africa. Cote d’Ivoire came last in West African and 45th in Africa.

Among the three other super-powers, Egypt’s highest score was in the area of national security (82 points) and lowest score was 12 in the area of participation. Kenya scored 77 points in the area of health and 15 points under infrastructure. South Africa obtained 80 points under education and its lowest score was 33 point under personal safety sub-category.

“Given the vast natural and human resources of these four regional powers, these governance results are a concern,” said Abdoulie Janneh, a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which has published the index since 2007.

“Each of these countries plays a key role in the economic and political landscape of the continent. To continue to optimally play this role requires a sustained commitment to balanced and equitable governance,” Janneh added.
The 2012 index examined data from each of the four categories, which were broken down into 14 sub-categories, for each country between 2000 and 2011. It used 88 indicators drawn from 23 independent data providers from Africa and internationally.

Mauritius came top in the overall index, followed by Cape Verde, Botswana and the Seychelles, continuing the same pattern as last year. Somalia was last, a position it has occupied since the index was first published. The country came last in each of the four category rankings. Somalia’s overall score has declined since 2006. Tanzania moved into the top 10 for the first time this year, while Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola registered significant improvements. Sudan and South Sudan were not included this year.

Speaking ahead of the index launch, the Sudanese-born philanthropist Mo Ibrahim,  said economic success cannot be allowed to overshadow human rights and democratic processes in Africa (video), a continent that has seen steady economic growth over the past 10 years, even during the “dark days of the financial crisis”. “What we need in Africa is balanced development. Economic success cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy … it doesn’t work,” he said. “It worries us a lot when we don’t see the trickle-through factor, when gain goes to the top 1 per cent or 2 per cent, leaving the rest behind.”

“North Africa is an obvious example of the consequences of ignoring people’s needs and rights, he added. “Literacy in Tunisia is almost 100 per cent. It’s amazing – no country in the region or even in Asia can match Tunisia in education. So we have wonderful human development achievement in education and health, etc. But hundreds of thousands of men and women who graduated from college cannot find work, and not only that but [they] look around and they see an oppressive, corrupt regime. Then you have a volatile mix.”

Rwanda, which has risen  by two places in the overall ranking, to 23rd this year, is also an example of unbalanced development. Although the country ranks 16th and 11th for human development and sustainable economic opportunities respectively, up from 13th and 17th in 2011, it is 31st for safety and rule of law, down one place from last year and continuing a downward trend since 2006, and 29th for human rights and participation, although this is a rise of one place since last year.

Overall, since 2000, governance in Africa has improved. Particular progress has been made in women’s rights, said Ibrahim, although he acknowledged there was still a long way to go before gender equality is achieved. “We’re very pleased. This is an area [in which] we’re moving forward, but we’re coming from a very low base,” he said.

“It’s easy to introduce new legislation against domestic violence or give women rights over land and in divorce cases, but it’s much more difficult to change attitudes and the culture of “male supremacy”, he said. “Education helps and the spread of information helps, and courageous, unflinching, uncompromising … political leadership is also required.”

For the third time, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation decided not to award any one the prize for African leadership this year, as no one matched the judges’ criteria.

The prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership, and provides winners with the opportunity to pursue their commitment to Africa once they have stepped down from office. It is awarded to a democratically elected former African head of state or government.

The prize committee said: “[We] reviewed a number of eligible candidates but none met the criteria needed to win this award. The award is about excellence in leadership. In the first six years the prize committee has selected three very worthy laureates who continue to be an inspiration and whose examples, we hope, will be emulated.”

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