Nigeria ranks low in Harvard governance index

Originally reported here.

Nigeria is, once again, on the wrong end of a survey of the best governed African countries.

The 2009 Annual Index of African Governance released by the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Governance last weekend, ranks Nigeria 38 on the governance list of 53 countries in Africa, making it the sixteenth worst governed on the continent.

In the report, Nigeria only scores better than countries such as Togo, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone.

The publishers of the report, the World Peace Foundation, highlighted the core issues that led to this low ranking. The report said, “Nigeria, despite its vast oil wealth, suffers as in previous years by weak scores for safety and security, participation, rule of law, and human development.”

This confirmed the statement made last week by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the Corporate Council on Africa’s Seventh Biennial US/Africa Business Summit in Washington. Mrs. Clinton described the situation in Nigeria as “heartbreaking”, saying that “the number of people facing food security and health challenges is going up… because the revenues have not been well managed”.

This year’s governance report shows that Mauritius, Seychelles, and Cape Verde – all small Islands – are Africa’s three best governed countries. At the bottom of the list are Chad, Sudan, and Somalia.

For the first time, the index includes North African countries. Tunisia and Algeria are in the top 10. Even though Tunisia’s human rights record is described as “appalling”, the country is rated high in terms of human development, economic opportunity and security. Its scores in these areas somehow compensate for its parlous human rights record.

South Africa, however, slipped to ninth position in the ranking. This, producers of the report said, is due to the country’s low scores in the areas of respect for civil and political rights and the rule of law.

The 2009 Index of African Governance used 57 indicators, including maternal mortality, gross domestic product per capita, respect for human rights and judicial independence, to rate governance in the continent’s 53 nations. The survey, which produced the report was coordinated by Robert Rotberg and Rachel Gisselquist of the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

For a better life

The authors said, in a statement, that “bettering the lives of all of Africa’s peoples is the overriding purpose of the index. By noting which indicators lag and which have advanced, governments can improve the outcomes for their populations”.

Quality of governance

They also recommended that African countries can improve the quality of governance by allowing “citizens to choose their leaders, that is, to bring to political office, leaders chosen in free, fair, and competitive elections”.

The index provides both a new definition of governance, as well as a comprehensive set of governance measures. Based on five categories of essential political goods, each country is assessed against 58 individual measures, capturing several outcomes and offering a report card on the accomplishments of each country.

Read the full Harvard Report on Africa governance here.

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