Our Superlative Country Called Nigeria


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Our Superlative Country Called Nigeria

Mobolaji E. Aluko
Burtonsville, MD USA
March 3, 2004







There are 191 member-countries in the United Nations and about 262 countries and areas world-wide.  So when a country like Nigeria is always mentioned in almost any list that you can think  of as “Top Ten Best” or “Bottom Ten Worst or Least”,  or “Twenty Most X”, then there is no doubt that it can be dubbed  “The Superlative Country in the World.”




We might as well begin by stating that Nigeria, with about 134 million people,  is the most populous,  and 13th largest in land area  in Africa, and ninth most populous country in the world after China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, and before Japan.  It is also worthy to note that Lagos, Nigeria is the sixth largest urban center in the world after Tokyo, Mumbai, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, New York City, and before Dhaka, Calcutta, Los Angeles and Shanghai.


With regard to crude oil, Nigeria has the 10th largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Libya and Mexico, and before China and the United States.   It is the 13th largest world oil producer, after Saudi Arabia, United States, Russia, Iran, Mexico, Norway, China, Venezuela, Canada, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Iraq, and before Kuwait and Brazil.  It is the 7th largest world oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia, Norway, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, and  before Iraq, Kuwait, Mexico, Libya and Algeria.  The importance of Nigeria to the US is presented in  its being that country’s 5th supplier – after Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, and followed by Iraq, Norway, Angola and the United Kingdom.  Our gas reserves of about 125 trillion cubic feet (tcf)  would place Nigeria as the 7th largest in the world after Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United States, Algeria and Venezuela.


Not too long ago, the news that Nigerians were determined to be  the Happiest People on Earth caused quite a stir and not a few guffaws.  A two-year (1999-2001) World Values Survey (WVS) sponsored by Britain's New Scientist magazine was published in October 2003, and reported that finding out of some 65 nations polled. It based its conclusions on criteria ranging from making friends and marrying, to growing old gracefully and a genetic propensity to happiness. Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico followed Nigeria.   New Zealand was 15th, the United States was ranked 16th,  Australia 20th,  Britain  ranked 24th while Russia, Armenia and Romania had the fewest happy people.


In January 2003, Nigeria was announced to be the third most optimistic country in the world, following Kenya and Kosovo, and trailed by Turkey and the USA.   The simple question was “Will 2003 be better than 2002?”   The least optimistic?  Zimbabwe, Portugal, Guatemala, Ecuador and Greece.  In fact, in 2000 (“Will 2000 be better than 1999?”), Nigeria was the most optimistic, followed by  Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Panama, the USA, Georgia (60%), and Thailand and Hong Kong (tied).  


“Ee go better, ee go better…” is a popular pidgin English saying in Nigeria – and its shows.  Unfortunately in the results published in January 2004  ( “Will 2004 be better than 2003?”), Nigeria has dropped out of the Top Five entirely –something to think about. 


Maybe the above two news items about our happiness and optimism are tied up to the following news just in:  Nigeria was listed as the most religious country  in a survey of 10 countries, with over 90% of Nigerians saying that they believed in God, prayed regularly and would die for their belief.  And indeed many have died, particularly in religious riots in the Northern part of the country.  The countries polled were Nigeria,  Indonesia, India, Lebanon, Mexico, USA, Israel,  the UK, Russia, and South Korea – with that order of fervor of belief in descending order.  The interviews were carried out in January 2004.


The last news is hardly surprising since Nigeria, which has roughly equal proportions of  Muslims and Christians, is the eigth country with the largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, (Nigeria), Algeria and Morocco.  Similarly, as Christian populations go, Nigeria is also about the tenth largest in the world.
The next superlative is that presented in a report  on the study conducted in 2001 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 30 oil-producing developing countries which rated Chad the least developed with 0.365 point ranking followed by Angola (0.403), and then Nigeria (0.462).   Thus Nigeria placed the “Third Least Developed”  among oil-producing developing countries.  On the whole and more generally, in the 2003 Human Development Indicators ranking, Nigeria placed 152nd out of 175 countries, or 24th from the bottom.


Next, we have Verisign's recent Internet Security Intelligence Briefing  which listed Nigeria as 8th country By Total Volume of Fraudulent Transactions Rankings – in the midst of USA, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, UK, India, and Turkey before Nigeria, and  Germany,  Malaysia in that order -  but 2nd  by Percentage of Fraudulent Transactions Rankings: Indonesia before Nigeria, and  Pakistan, Ghana, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon,  Bulgaria and India following. 


These last two placements so high up in Internet fraud would not have been particularly irksome had we not placed 25th (out of 180 nations) from the bottom with regard to the recent  first Global ICT Ranking (Digital Access Index 2002; released November


Almost finally, I know that most of our readers have been waiting for this:  according to Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index 2003 (CPI), Nigeria is the second most corrupt country in the world, after Bangladesh, and is followed by Haiti, Paraguay, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Georgia, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Angola, Kenya, and Indonesia.    Finland, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden had the least CPI.  Then just yesterday, we were hit with another verdict:  along with Cook Islands, Guatemala, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nauru, and the Philippines, Nigeria was designated as being retained in the international Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs) which do not meet international standards against money laundering, and hence must  continue to face heightened scrutiny by banks dealing with any transactions originating from our country.


Finally, we recently joined another superlative:  the country with probably the highest paid Minister of Finance!




Reading all the above, one cannot but come away with the impression that there is something special about that our country Nigeria that one cannot QUITE put one’s finger on.  Large natural wealth, low human development index; low technology access, high technology and economic fraud – all in the midst of high religiosity. Hmmm…something does not compute.


What a country  - with Indonesia as a faithful “brother” nation, “following” us everywhere at every opportunity in the lists above!


So it is quite frustrating why we still are where we are economically, socially and politically - but there you have it.
Best wishes all.










Countries with largest Muslim Populations



New discoveries raise Nigeria's gas reserves


Verisign Internet Intelligence Briefing – see Page 8 in particular
http://www.itu.int/newsarchive/press_releases/2003/30.html (Summary)
http://www.jidaw.com/itsolutions/Sum_e.pdf (Full report)
First Global ICT Ranking (Digital Access Index 2002; released November



Nigerians are Happiest People in the World


They Say that We are Happy – Reuben Abati


Most optimism, pessimism is in Africa



The Morgan Poll – Nigeria most optimistic for 1999


Human Development Indicators 2003 – Nigeria


Human Development Indicators 2003 – Summary


Human Development Indicators 2003 –  Indicators


Transparency International  Corruption Perceptions Index 2003



Country Study and Country Guide – Nigeria


Financial Action Task Force Meets in Paris 24 – 27 February, 2004; OECD headquarters


Report of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Typologies 2003-2004


FATF strengthens global anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing campaign







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