There is a saying in Lagos that if you can survive and succeed in Nigeria, there is no place in the world where you won’t succeed. Africa’s leading economic power is a country full of contrasts. Here are some elements of the Nigerian paradox.
The largest concentration of billionaires in Africa, and one of the highest poverty rates on the continent.
A major oil power, among the top three African gas producers, but almost no electricity in the production areas, with a capital that is sometimes deprived of power for days on end.
A high-speed train using the latest driving technology, which is also luxurious and modern, that crosses areas where the population has remained frozen in the last century.
One of the most heavily manned military forces, for one of the best-equipped armies in Africa, which is unsuccessfully facing one of the most active and violent rebellions on the continent.
A political capital, Abuja, which in some places has nothing to envy to London or Paris, and huge townships around the economic capital where people are starving.
A dense and modern road network of highways, over which road cutters reign supreme, day and night, operating 365 days a year.
An agricultural giant, the world’s leading producer of numerous speculations. For example, it is the world leader in yams, with 35 million tons, part of which is exported to the USA, the third largest African producer of cocoa, and the first African producer of pineapples, but a country that is totally unknown for its green power.
Creator of 45 times more wealth per year than Niger, Nigeria’s 200 million inhabitants have almost the same HDI (Human Development Index) as Niger; an index that takes into account the general quality of life of people throughout the country.
One of the longest bridges in Africa, the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, (12 km or 6 times the length of the HKB), and thousands of kilometers of detour to be made, to cross the Niger River or in places economic zones are separated by banks only 3 or 4 kilometers apart.
A GDP boosted by oil which in a single year corresponds to 10 years of GDP of the Ivory Coast. GDP means production of wealth, but professional immigration which is essentially in the direction Nigeria – Ivory Coast, with a large population, especially Ibo and Haoussa who come to seek the much hoped-for wealth on Ivorian soil.
60% of the population lives on less than 600F CFA per day, while the 5 richest men in the country have a cumulative fortune of 30 billion dollars, which is more than the entire national budget of the country over one year.
The GDP of the city of Lagos alone is higher than those of Maltesa + Andorra + Monaco + Cyprus combined, all members of the European Union, but the country remains underdeveloped.
The only African country that set up a fund at the ADB in 1976, the DSF (Nigeria Special Fund) to help small African countries facing financing difficulties, a fund that is still in force, but which itself struggles to finance certain parts of its own economy.
What to think of the incessant fuel shortages at the pump for the first African oil producer? The Ivorian will answer: “It’s weird”!
And as is the case almost everywhere in Africa, an ultra young population and an ultra old political class with the same men who have been taking turns in power for more than 30 years. The current president, Buhari was already at the head of Nigeria 36 years ago …..
Basically a special country in almost every way, home to a people who are fortunately hard-working and very resilient.