Is Nigeria a ‘shithole country’?

On January 11, 2018, The Washington Post reported that during the White House meeting on Immigration Reform, President Donald Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries”, and proceeded to ask the following questions: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? Why couldn’t we just take in immigrants from, say, Norway?” Similarly, on December 23, 2017, The New York Times reported that during a meeting in the Oval Office to advance President Trump’s Immigration Agenda, Trump made the following remarks about Nigerians: “Once they had seen the United States, they would never go back to their huts in Africa”. Obviously, the dust on these assertions by Trump has settled to some degree. However, the implications of those assertions cannot be taken lightly or be ignored.

Clearly, Trump’s “shithole” label of African nations generated lots of heated, and often acrimonious commentaries and debates all over the world – leading to what I consider three distinct schools of thought. The first school, especially in the West, considers those remarks crude, offensive and outright racist on the part of Trump. The second school, mostly advanced by the President apologists, argues that the remarks meant that African countries are largely unskilled and not economically self-reliant. The third school, especially among some Nigerians, considers the remarks accurate description of several African nations, particularly Nigeria.
No objective thinker, with some measure of decency, will question the veracity of the first school of thought. The “shithole” label of African countries and the preference of Europeans over Africans in the US has serious racial overtone, and questions the fundamental truth that “all men are created equal”. However, the third school of thought deserves serious attention; hence, this question: Is Nigeria a “shithole country”?
Nigeria is NOT a “shithole country”. However, no fair-minded Nigerian will ignore the argument of the supporters of the “shithole” label of Nigeria. Supporters argue that some Nigerian leaders have been creating “shithole” in Nigeria for three decades now. Specifically, they cite the worst brand of corruption on the part of so many Nigerian leaders and the massive unemployment in Nigeria since the late 80s. Clearly, acute corruption within and among so many Nigerian leaders is well-known within and outside Nigeria, and that is the bitter truth. Accordingly, Nigerians were not totally shocked when Transparency International ranked Nigeria as the most corrupt nation in 2000. Similarly, so many Nigerians agreed with a former Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, when he dubbed Nigeria a “fantastically corrupt” country in 2016. In fact, what rises so spontaneously to most Nigerian lips any time economic woes of Nigeria are the subjects of discussion is the word, corruption. If truth be told, President Muhammadu Buhari’s somber call to end chronic, systemic corruption during his presidential campaign in 2015 clears all doubts: “If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
Though corruption is the basic justification for the “shithole” description of Nigeria by Trump, an in-depth study of the Nigerian economy (in 1999 and in 2005) suggests that the root causes of the “shithole” label are much deeper and deadlier than corruption itself – a point I now turn.
As a concerned Nigerian, who has written several books and continue to write articles on Nigeria, I found out (in 1999 and in 2005) that corruption in and of itself is not the root of the economic woes in Nigeria. Here are the root causes:
(a) So many Nigerian leaders are not rational actors in the world stage.
(b) So many Nigerian leaders are not patriotic; they do not love Nigeria.
(c) So many Nigerian leaders are not ashamed or embarrassed that an oil rich Nigeria (the “giant of Africa” in the 70s and early 80s) has become such a laughing stock in the world – the “fantastically corrupt

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