By Ozioma Okey-Kalu
I came across a post on Twitter, where the writer listed ten most dangerous countries in the world. According to him, Nigeria is the fifth country in the group. It ranked after Colombia (1st), Yemen (2nd), El Salvador (3rd) and Pakistan (4th). This poster said that the presence of deadly terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), made Nigeria unsafe. He noted that because these terrorists target places of large gatherings, Nigerians and foreigners no longer feel safe in the country. Well, even though it is true that the presence of insurgents made Nigeria unsafe, it should be remembered that they are not only present in Nigeria. Hence, using them as an excuse to rank Nigeria as the 5th most dangerous country in the world to live is subjective.
But this Twitter post is not the only one that has accused Nigeria as being a very dangerous place to live or to visit. An article published in Forbes on September 5, 2019, did the same thing. In fact, Forbes claimed that Nigeria is the 3rd most dangerous place in the world anybody can live in. The countries that ranked higher than Nigeria are Brazil (1st) and South Africa (2nd). This ranking came after the InterNation’s Expat Insider Survey was conducted. This survey polled 20,259 expatriates from 182 nationalities, who live in 187 foreign countries. The Safety and Security subsection of this survey was used to collect data on peacefulness, personal safety and political stability of countries under study. Nigerians will then wonder how their country could rank the 3rd most dangerous place in the world when they live in peace, are not afraid of their safety and the country does not experience political instability.
Well, I still believe that Forbes report, or rather that of the InterNation’s Expat Insider Survey, is misleading. Of course they used respondents, who they believed must have provided objective evaluation of the country’s security and safety system. But it is possible that the respondents they approached only lived and experienced lives in a particular part of the country. Or, it could be that these respondents were disappointed because the citizens did not meet their expectations. And so, they judged the whole country based on one encounter. I will explain this below.
Forbes presented statements from two respondents used for this survey. One is an African, from Rwanda, while the other is a Hungarian; they are both expats. According to the Rwandan expat, in Nigeria, there is “the feeling of uncertainty.” He said that in this country, “almost anything can and might happen to me, anytime, anywhere.” The moment I read this, I asked myself, “Are we really this anxious? Are we this petrified in Nigeria?” I mean, we move about freely. And, just like every other country of the world, we stay away from suspicious places and people. Or is it only in Nigeria that crimes exist? Someone, who hasn’t been to Nigeria, will definitely think that Nigeria is a war-torn zone, where deaths happen on the streets, after reading the observation of this Rwandan expat. But we all know that this is not so.
The second expat, the Hungarian, insinuated that Nigerians are hostile. According to him, Nigerians do not relate well with foreigners. He said, “We are not really free, cannot walk on the streets, cannot mingle with the Nigerians. There is always the possibility of danger.” Well, this person first failed it by saying that they are not free in Nigeria. I don’t know which part of the country the person is because that would have explained what he meant by not being free and not being able to mingle with Nigerians. As far as I can say, Nigerians are very friendly people. They welcome and interact with strangers. They will rather keep the stranger comfortable and remain in discomfort than the other way round. Well, like I mentioned earlier, these evaluations are subjective because only the respondents know what they expected from the citizens that they didn’t get. And, I don’t understand what he meant by “There is always a possibility of danger”. Maybe he is not talking about the same Nigeria I live in.
However, there is good news. Not all surveys felt Nigeria is dangerous. For instance I searched to find out if Nigeria is among the countries that are unsafe for women and children, and was happy to discover that we do not belong to any of the lists. Furthermore, on 13 January, 2020, Telegraph published the 17 most dangerous countries in the world, according to Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Nigeria did not show there. This means that Nigeria, though not a perfect country, is not as bad as some other countries and organisations paint it.
Note that I am not saying that Nigeria is a paradise. I am not suggesting that we don’t have security challenges in the country. My point here is that situations in the country have been exaggerated. Of course crime exists in Nigeria, but so does it in other countries. We battle with terrorism quite alright, but that does not warrant the negative way we are painted. The only thing I can say about the safety and security situations in the country is that we avoid situations that can make us vulnerable and, therefore, expose us to the criminals. It is high time other nationalities stopped destroying our image.
Okey-Kalu is a Lecturer in GNS Department (English Unit), Federal School of Statistics, Enugu: firstname.lastname@example.org
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