As one who is increasingly disenchanted with reading Nigerian Newspapers I heard about the controversial Elrufai article on a friend’s facebook post. It had several comments condeming his article and potrayal of Anambra as an educationally challenged state. So I have decided to weigh in on this by separating emotions from reality. How best to do this by looking at the numbers. After all numbers don’t lie like they say.
1. Unemployment Rate – According to Elrufai “Unemployment rate in Anambra is among the highest in the South-east zone, at 21.3 per cent, it is higher than the national average of 21.1 per cent. Imo’s unemployment rate is 29.9 per cent and Enugu is 15 per cent”.
Fact : According to the Bureau of Statistics latest unemployment data the national unemployment rate is 23.9%. The report did not list unemployment rate of states and as such I find it hard to accept Elrufai’s data. Besides the national average of 21.1% was for 2010 rendering his stats obsolete.
2. Poverty – Elrufai – “The incidence of poverty in the state is very high – actually disappointing. The South-east has a food poor incidence of 41.0 per cent of which 60.9 per cent is absolutely poor, while 66.5 per cent is relatively poor and 56.8 per cent live under a dollar a day. Anambra has a poverty index of 22.8 per cent, the third highest in the zone, and shares the sixth lowest position in Nigeria with Rivers State which also has 22.8 per cent. About 47.6 per cent of the state’s population is core poor, 45.0 per cent is moderately poor and only 7.4 per cent of the state’s population is classified as none poor. Income inequality as measured by changes in Gini co-efficient between 2003 and 2010 increased slightly by 7.6 per cent as against 18.1 per cent for Ebonyi and Enugu States 7.5 per cent increase”.
Fact: According to official report the South East actually has a Food Poor Incidence of 41%. However only 58.7% is absolutely poor as against El Rufai’s claim of 60.9%. Again only 67% was relatively poor as against 66.5% and 59.2 live on less than a dollar a day as against 56.8% that he stated. Here he got the facts wrong actually making the South East Zone look better. 34.2% of the State Population is food poor and 65.8% non-poor. Also, 56.8% live in absolute poverty whilst 43.2% are non-poor under the absolute poverty index. On the relative poverty index which measures two-thirds of the weighted mean household per capita expenditure regionally deflated, the state scores 68% as poor and 32% as non poor. Income Inequality according to the report increased 7.6% agreeing with Elrufai’s assertion. Ebonyi and Enugu state were 18.2% and 7.5% respectively. It was actually the lowest of the South East States.
3. Ease of Doing Business – Elrufai says “…out of the five South-eastern states, Anambra has the fourth lowest ranking for ease of doing business; it was at a distant 35th position out of the 36 states and FCT in 2010. Starting a business involves nine procedures that may span 39 days. Enugu with the best doing business ranking in the zone, takes the 30th position of the 36 states, while Imo is ranked 36, as the most difficult state to do business both in the South-east and nationally.”
Fact: According to the Ease of Doing Business report conducted in 2010 Jigawa State Ranked the highest in Nigeria. Anambra State came 35th and was the last fourth of the South Eastern States. So here Elrufai is on point.
4. On Literacy Rate – “…..However, compared to its South-east neighbours, the state has the third lowest adult literacy amongst the five states, Abia has 78.2 per cent, Imo 80.8 per cent, Enugu with 64.6 per cent and Ebonyi with 69.8 per cent. This means that in education terms, Anambra is performing poorer than most other states in its region. From this regional perspective, it means investment in education urgently needs attention and ought to be ramped up.”
Fact – According to 2010 National Literacy Survey official report Anambra’s adult literacy rate was 72.8%, Abia 78.2%, Ebonyi 69.8%, Enugu 64.6% and Imo 80.8% (Highest in the country). But this is not surprising as Anambra State has always been a more Entrepreneurial State with most of its people predominantly business men. At 72.8% it actually is way above the natural average of 57.9%. I also think the urgent need to “ramp up” investment in this sector due to this data is slightly misleading as the data only focussed on the ability to read or write English which doesn’t actually transcend to being educationally advanced. In addition, he also ignores the youth literacy rate which scores Anambra State at 92.8% still above the national average of 76.3% and higher than all the South Western States except Lagos and Ogun State.
5. Budgetary Issues – Elrufai alluded to several fiscal imbalances enshrined in the State’s budget. I do not have access to the State’s budget and as such will not dispute his opinions. However, it is important to note that budgetary imbalance precipitated by oversized Governments and misplacement of priority in terms budgetary allocations are issues that I strongly vehemently oppose. Whilst this is however not unique to Anambra State alone, his article was a focus on the state and so should be seen as such and not a moral attack on the South East.
In conclusion, whilst some of his facts may have been distorted or misrepresented, it does not bring one any comfort. For a State rich with human capital I see no pride in it being 35th out of 37 states when it comes to the ease of doing business. The poverty level in the state is also nothing to gloat about considering its very active role as a major trading and industrial hub in Nigeria. With its potential it should be amongst the states in the country with the least unemployment rate. Having Schooled in Anambra State and being my maternal home, I believe criticism’s like this (Elrufai) is a welcome development and one that should challenge the government to do more. For Elrufai, who may have his own flaws( just like anyone else), rather than being chastised and characterized as insulting the Igbo race, the Igbo people should take a good look at the stats above (which are official) and challenge the Governor to do more. The Governor in his right may be doing his best to uplift the state, but with stats like these he sure needs to do a lot more that pour rhetoric to the critique leveled against his state. The citizens do not want replies they want rewards for democracy.