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Independence Day Nigeria: It’s High Time Nigeria Gave Up The Giant Of Africa Appellation

As October 1st, 2020 marks Nigeria Independence Day, the nation turns 60. It’s hapless to declare that Nigeria needs to give up the Giant of Africa appellation being unable to solve numerous issues emanated from past leaders.

Independence Day Nigeria gives time for the nation to reflect more on its shortcomings and pave ways to reclaim the title.

It’s no doubt that black nation is indeed one of the most respected & dominant countries in Africa. Its immense population size is intimidating. And its flourishing economy is second to none in the continent.

3D Shape of Nigeria in a white background
Shape of Nigeria, the Giants of Africa | Picture Credit: Author

Nigeria is a nation blessed with more than enough natural resources. And this has coaxed a lot of local & foreign investors into making potential investments. Despite the reduction in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) received in 2018, Nigeria was and is still one of the largest recipients in Africa, and they deserve applause for that.

Mother Nature has also been kind to the black nation as its ever-green parks to its mysterious caves serve as tourist centres to enjoy the cool summer breeze. It has also had a massive impact on the country’s GDP value, which is notably the highest in Africa.

Just as Ukraine is widely known as the Bread Basket of Europeand Hong Kong enjoys being called Asia’s World City, Nigeria has also been referredto as the Giant of Africa — An appellation the black nation has worn with pride. The nickname began at the beginning of the 21st century, and it has gained more and more popularity over the years.

But despite the number of leaders, scholars, or commentators that refer to Nigeria this way, many other Africans have continued to debunk this notion. Some think that the self-proclaimed title is ‘too extraordinary’ for the country. Others think of it as a joke & don’t take it seriously whenever they hear it. While a few don’t even know about it.

But pondering on the worth attached to the title, anyone would ask: Does Nigeria really deserve it? Is she the most qualified out of the 54 countries in Africa to bear the title? If another nation should take the title which should it be?

Every country indeed deserves a nickname, but it’s also essentialthat the name should connote something more than just its literal meaning.

Before going, let’s consider a few reasons why some refer to Nigeria as The Giant of Africa.

Why does anyone call Nigeria the Giant of Africa?

Looking at the metaphor, ‘Giant of Africa,’ there are two critical words to notice. That’s ‘Giant,’ and probably, ‘Africa.’

Hearing the word, ‘Giant’at first,few things could quickly pop into our minds. Some of us may relate it to Burna Boy: African Giant album. Christians may quickly recall Goliath of Gath from the bible, while others imagine the size of the giants in the movie, Jack The Giant Slayer.

David and Goliath the Giant in the Bible
Goliath of Gath and David in the Bible | Picture Credit: Pinterest

But according to Merriam-Webster, a giant is a legendary humanlike being of great stature and strength.

A giant is vast and influential, and these are few reasons why Nigeria is considered one amid other African countries:

1. Nigeria’s population

Many people grouped together to form Nigeria’s shape
Nigeria’s image formed by clusters of people | Image source: Author

You couldn’t agree more with me that the first attribute you’ll notice of a giant is its size. The size of a giant isn’t comparable to the size of a normal human being, and Nigeria has proven to have this quality by her population.

According to Worldometer’s live report, Nigeria’s population is over 205 million, which is the highest for a single country in Africa. This figure also makes Nigeria the 7th most populated country in the world, and it hasn’t stopped rising since the 90s.

Nigeria has an annual growth rate of 2.58%, which is about 5.1 million. Increasing at this rate, Nigeria may surpass Brazil in 2023 as their population size & annual growth are 212.5 million & 1.5 million respectively.

With over 1.3 billion Africans, calculations show that the ratio of the continent’s size to that of the country is 6:1. Therefore, we can assume that 1 in every 6 Africans is a Nigerian, and this is relatively high compared to other African countries.

2. Nigeria’s wealth

Nigeria GDP output graph over the years
Nigeria’s GDP Growth Rate | Source: Statistica

Having a GDP output of about $476 Billion, Nigeria has labelled herself as the wealthiest country in Africa, according to Bloomberg. Nigeria reclaimed the title from South Africa after they went into recession in the second half of 2019.

Nigeria mostly relies on agriculture & natural resources, and they are the largest crude oil exporters in Africa. Major agricultural products Nigeria exports are Sesamum seeds, Cocoanut, Cocoa butter, and Cashew nut. Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal, and limestone.

According to The World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP grew at an average of 7% yearly between 2000 & 2014. Following the oil price collapse in 2014–2016, combined with adverse production shocks, the GDP growth rate dropped to 2.7% in 2015. In 2016 during its first recession in 25 years, the economy contracted by 1.6%.

But despite this recession, the black nation could still put themselves back together & has long recovered from it.

3. Their notable achievements

Many hands holding and stretching to touch a trophy
Joint achievement | Credit: Author

It might interest you to know that Nigeria also earns respect from other African countries for the kind of records they have. Since Nigeria’s independence from British rule in 1960 (Nigeria Independence Day — October 1st) they’ve been able to achieve a lot independently in various aspects. And this ability has always made them stand out among other nations.

Below are a few of the achievements Nigeria has gained over the years:

1. Nigeria is the first to broadcast television signals in Africa, first known as Western Nigeria Television Service (WNTS). Now known as the Nigerian Television Authority, it is currently the largest terrestrial TV network in Africa.

2. Nigeria’s Nollywood is the second-largest film-producing industry in the world. Producing over 2,500 films annually, Nollywood surpasses US’s Hollywood but doesn’t produce as much as India’s Bollywood.

3. Nigerian Football Team is the first African team to win the Olympic Soccer Gold Medal. It took place at Atlanta in 1996 under the Dutchman’s management, Johannes Bonfrere.

4. Nigeria is also the first African country to manufacture cars locally.

5. Many Nigerians have singlehandedly broken various world records other Africans couldn’t. Some of them are Wole Soyinka, Philip Emeagwali, Ajayi Crowther, and Chimamanda Ngozi.

Gaining these achievements wasn’t a piece of cake for Nigeria and its citizens, and they deserve due accolades.

It wasn’t so easy for the country to stabilize owing to various military coups, civil war, and recession which ensued after the British rule. But their significant improvements today amongst others is incomparable.

Being Nigeria Independence Day why should the nation drop the title for another African country?

Map of Africa with Nigeria highlighted
Map of Africa with Nigeria highlighted | Photo credit: Green Mini-Grid

I was born & raised in Nigeria, a period which spanned for 17 years. My experience living in the black nation made me learn a lot about them, and I can’t say I regret the time spent there. Nigeria has a lot of great qualities and is a definite recommend in my list of countries to enjoy life after retirement. But it’s also sad to conclude that Nigeria’s misfortunes are more significant than her perfections.

Every country indeed has its weaknesses in one area or the other. But we’ve also seen these countries take measures to combat them & eventually do. But the case in Nigeria isn’t so, as even her leaders are indifferent towards most the country’s issues. Nigeria is among the few countries I know that keeps experiencing the same problems endlessly. And I sometimes feel heartbroken seeing Nigerians adapt to new living conditions out of their collective misfortune.

It’s only a Nigerian citizen I’ve seen bitterly making a mockery of his nation in public. If you give him three reasons why Nigeria is the best place to live in, he’ll give you six reasons to refute them. Give him eight, and he’ll give you sixteen. It isn’t right, and these numerous problems have made many people refuse to accept Nigeria as the Giant of Africa.

Having only few qualities of a giant, below are some reasons why Nigeria should drop the title:

1. The ‘Giant of Africa’ is still battling with poverty.

Children with dirty clothes due to poverty
Poverty in Nigeria | Photo Credit: ABS

Despite being the wealthiest country by GDP output in Africa, it’s quite hapless to know that many refer to Nigeria as the ‘poverty capital of the world.’ Over 86 million citizens out of 206 million live in extreme poverty, and this makes Nigeria the country with the highest poverty rate in Africa. And also the second in the world.

Roughly about 41.7% of Nigeria’s population is living below the international poverty line (estimated $2 per day), and this keeps increasing daily. Nigeria is a very populated country, and there are many possible reasons for this high rate. One of the primary reasons is that its population growth rate keeps rising more than the economic growth rate. And if this continues, it’s sad to conclude that the issue of poverty won’t endanytime soon.

You can’t agree more with me that it’s a shame for the ‘so-called’ Giant of Africa to be the country with the second-highest poverty rate in the world. According to CNN, Nigeria even overtook India to have the highest poverty rate in 2018. A nation of 6 times its population.

This isn’t the best way to portray a giant’s nature. Hence it needs to be resolved soon.

2. Nigeria’s power supply is one of the worst in the world

Electricity Power Station in Nigeria
Electricity Power Grid in Nigeria | Photo Credit: Nairametrics

Anytime I recall how terrible power supply is in Nigeria, I become heartbroken for a while. The stability of electricity supply in Nigeria is one of the worst in Africa and the world as a whole.

Reports from Bloomberg show that Nigeria consumed an average 3,713MW of electricity from the grid in 2018. In comparison that’s about one-tenth of what Eskom made available in South Africa. A country with less than one-third of its population, and which itself is subject to rolling blackouts.

To keep out of darkness, households in Nigeria own and operate an estimated 22 million small gasoline generators. Individuals and businesses spend over $12 billion a year fueling these generators. And the president pays over $110,000 of that amount.

Ifsmaller countries in the continent could deal with the issue of power supply, why can’t The Giant of Africa do so? Spectator Index even ranked Nigeria as the second country in the world with the worst electricity supply in 2017 for supplying just 3,851MW to over 180 million people, and there hasn’t been any notable improvement to date.

3. Corruption in Nigeria is still at its peak.

Hand stretching to receive bribe from another person in Nigeria
Hand receiving bribe from another in Nigeria | Photo Credit: Legit

Corruption is a persistent phenomenon in Africa, and The Giant of Africa is no stranger to it. From the Nigeria Police to political parties, and the National Assembly, there isn’t any institution that doesn’t have its fair share in corruption.

According to the 2019 Index of Transparency International, Nigeria is the 22nd most corrupt country in Africa, and also the 34th in the world ranking. The rise of public administration and the discovery of natural resources have made way for the continuous increase in corruption. And since her independence in 1960, Nigeria is estimated to have lost over $400 billion to fraud. Most of which was during military rule.

Being the 22nd most corrupt country out of 54 in Africa isn’t the right spot for the Giant. What also makes it surprising is that Nigeria has never been able to conduct a peaceful general election since democracy began in history. They really have a lot to learn from Botswana, and they shouldn’t hesitate to do so if they want to keep the title.

4. Nigeria’s education standard is low

Teacher teaching students in a class in Nigeria
Students learning in Nigeria | Photo Credit: Eloghosa Ihaza

Education in Nigeria is also another sector that isn’t hard to notice its misfortune. The government hasn’t still acknowledged that it needs prioritization, and the situation is gradually going from bad to worse.

According to the BBC, Nigeria had over 10.5 million children out of school in 2017. The Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary publicly admitted it, and this made Nigeria the country with the highest out-of-school children in the world.

It seemed difficult to believe because the government made primary education free & compulsory for everyone. But things haven’t still gotten better, especially for the girl child.

In the university level, the case doesn’t seem to be any better as the quality of education isn’t the best a nation of its class can produce. In figures, only 174 universities are made available for its 206 million citizens giving rise to a high population per capita value. This is unlike South Africa, which produces over 136 universities possible for its 59 million citizens.

Nigerian universities aren’t also the best performers on the continent. South Africa & Egypt have always outranked at any other African country in this aspect, having 20 and 10 respectively out of the top 50 best universities on the continent. Nigeria is the fourth after Algeria, but this isn’t also the best spot having more universities than any other country in Africa.

The government hasn’t taken education seriously, and they’ve proven this to be accurate by their previous actions. Though UNESCO advised all developing countries allocate up to 15 to 20% of their national budgets to education, the sector still got only 7.05% of it last year. In earlier years, the funding has always been between 6 and 7%, unlike Ghana, that has always been between 20 to 25%.

This has negatively reflected in many ways, and this isn’t also what we expect from a giant. One of the worst methods we’ve continued to see it is the continuous strike by teachers and lecturers in the country. It’s on record that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has gone on strike over 12 times since 2000. But as Bamidele Keisha explained, “Change is very possible.”

5. Security in Nigeria is abysmal

Nigerian police holding guns
Nigeria Police Force | Photo Credit: Author

The high crime rate in Nigeria is another severe issue that can also disqualify her from claiming the title. From kidnapping to armed robbery, and assassination, the problem of insecurity has continued to thrive and is among the worst in Africa.

From the Global Peace Index report, Nigeria is the 15th least peaceful country in the world. While in Africa, Nigeria is the 6th behind Sudan & Libya.

Though there have significant improvements since the new administration started under President Buhari began, Nigerians still live in fear as terrorism never seems to end in most parts of the country.

Nigerians even make up jokes that they rest like dolphins (i.e. only half of their brain sleeps at a time.) Cause they never know what may occur to them while asleep. Sometimes, I just laugh at those jokes being that I’m not a joy killer, but I feel depressed thinking of what they actually meant later.

To illustrate how bad it is, Nigeria has a crime index score of 63.77, making her the 4th highest crime rated country in Africa. If a Giant can’t keep its citizens safe, who will?

There are even certain terrorist groups that have also become widely known for the various forms of violence. Some of the popular ones are Boko Haram, the Niger Delta Avengers, and herdsmen. Despite everything done to terminate them, some still come back stronger and even cause more havoc than before.

Boko Haram Insurgents wearing masks and holding guns Nigeria
Boko Haram | Photo Credit: Premium Times NG

No matter how much anyone arrogates that Nigeria is the Giant of Africa, they are still no giants in terms of security.

Having a great size and economy doesn’t give any guarantee of being the best-performing country anywhere. Neither should any record achieved boosts a country’s preference to others. If not, India would have been one of the countries with the most significant power in the world. And Canada’s delegate will deserve a more prestigious seat during UN meetings.

Nigeria’s issues may not be the worst in Africa, but their approach towards them is appalling. A Giant is someone legendary, and this kind of beings face little or no problems at all. Nigeria may have the size it takes to be one in Africa, but since they haven’t shown most of the other important attributes, they’ll have to drop the title for now.

Giving up the title on Independence Day Nigeria, which country should claim it for now?

Map of Africa
Africa Map | Photo Source: Pinterest

Yeah, as expected, the question on everyone’s mind. If Nigeria should drop the title, which country should pick it up? The nickname has become so popular, and we can’t just sweep it under the rug or leave it idle without an owner.

As there’s much to consider before concluding on who should bear the title, there are also many African countries capable of claiming it. For instance, considering population, Ethiopia and Egypt stand a chance to claim it. While in terms of economy, we can also consider South Africa and Egypt.

But as we ruled out Nigeria from bearing the title because of only her population and wealth, we can’t also give regards to the aforementioned nations. The Giant of Africa should be a country that excels all round, and it won’t be easy to find a perfect match.

According to the 2019 Legatum Prosperity Index, Mauritius is the best-performing country using the 12 pillars (factors) provided. Some of the ‘pillars’ include Saftey & Security, Economic Quality, Education, e.t.c. Seychelles occupies the second spot, while Botswana is the third best. South Africa also ranks high as she maintains the 5th position. Ghana is the 8th, while Kenya is the 12th.

Although Egypt wasn’t ranked using the Sub-Sahara African filter, she is the 126th in the world ranking. This spot is behind Kenya, which is 113th and Gambia ranked as the 125th in the world. And also, Nigeria is the 34th in Africa and 148th in the world.

Even after observing any ranking, it isn’t still easy to directly point out a country that the nickname best fits. No matter how qualified any nation tends to be, there’s always a reason why it won’t be generally accepted.

Every country in Africa is unique & deserve acknowledgement. There’s no greatest & there’s no least. So while everyone can have a different opinion on who The Giant of Africa should be, no one should impose these opinions on others.

For the record, Happy Independence Day Nigeria!!!!!



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