Nigeria’s passport low ranking stirs debate on poor image, governance - PUNCH
SEPTEMBER 11, 2022
The Nigerian passport has been ranked 100th out of 199 countries in the 2022 third quarter global passport ranking by the Henley Passport Index.
This index is published quarterly by the Henley & Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm.
The Index compared the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations and ranked them based on global access and mobility.
The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. The Index indicated that Nigeria moved one place down the log as it was ranked 99th in the Q2 2022 index and placed below some African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Mali, and Malawi, among others.
In the HPI Q1 2022 index, Nigeria was placed at the 98th position alongside Ethiopia. Similarly, in the Q1 2021 index, Nigeria ranked 91 and had access to 46 countries, which indicated a steady regression.
Three Asian countries, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea were on top of the chart. With a Japanese passport, one could travel to 193 countries without requiring a visa. On the chart, Nigeria had a zero visa-free score which meant that with a Nigerian passport, one would require a visa to be granted access to any country.
In a similar report by the Henley & Partners, Henley Global Mobility report, the group compared the Global Peace Index with the passport ranking, stating that the level of peacefulness in a country also contributed to the position of the country’s ranking in the HPI. The report revealed a strong correlation between the two ratings.
Recall that Nigeria was ranked 143 among 163 independent nations and territories according to their level of peacefulness in the 16th edition of the 2022 Global Peace Index published in June.
In the Henley Global Mobility report, a Quondam Fellow of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and Member of the Advisory Committee of the Andan Foundation, Stephen Klimczuk-Massion, said that a passport was more than merely a calling card that affected the reception one got when one travelled.
Klimczuk-Massion stated, “Depending on which passport you carry and where you are going, a passport will have an impact on the kind of welcome you will receive, where you can go, and how safe you will be when you get there.
“Now more than ever, it’s a mistake to think of a passport as merely a travel document that allows you to get from A to B. The relative strength or weakness of a particular national passport directly affects the quality of life for the passport holder and may even be a matter of life and death in some circumstances.”
Experts noted that poor governance and mismanagement of resources impeded Nigeria’s global acceptance.
Commenting on the issue, a peace and conflict expert and professor of political science at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Akinsola Agagu, stated that the issue bothered on Nigeria’s image and perception by other countries across the world.
He noted that there were other factors such as fraud, corruption, and insecurity that had affected the trust other countries had in Nigeria, urging an urgent step to redeem Nigeria’s image globally.
He said that Ghana was above Nigeria on the chart because the level of corruption in Ghana as perceived worldwide was quite better compared to Nigeria, which had afforded them the chance to make headway over Nigeria.
The peace and conflict expert opined that the rate of conflict in Nigeria was high as seen in all sectors, adding that the religious and ethnic conflict affected elections. He added that fraudulent practices had further tarnished the image of Nigerians, contributing to the cynical global perception.
Stating the solution to the issue, Agagu said, “Nigeria needs to show transparency, that’s why we need good leadership. Nigerians should choose rightly in the forthcoming 2023 elections. We need a firm leader that can mobilise people to do right. Look at Ghana, they didn’t start on a good note. Things changed when they got good leadership. Now they’ve climbed the ladder of development.
“Nigeria is blessed with a lot of resources but the poverty level is still high due to mismanagement. If we had a good economy, human trafficking through the desert to other countries would not occur. Several years ago, Nigerians were comfortable, people overseas and even foreigners would invest in Nigeria but the bad economy, high cost of production, electricity issues, fraud, and insecurity have deprived us of that.”
He stressed that good leaders and patriotic national managers not ethnically biased or seeking personal gain were what Nigeria needed to get better. He further stated that when the change was effected, Nigerians in diaspora would return home to rebuild the country with Nigeria taking its rightful place globally.
Also, a professor of political science and expert in international studies and foreign policy at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Yusufu Yakubu, noted that issues relating to criminality affected Nigeria’s position in the world.
He stated that the citizens’ diplomacy organised by former president, Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration, aimed at redeeming the negative image a few individuals created by indulging in illicit acts labelling Nigeria a criminal country.
Yakubu said, “There are other countries whose citizens are involved in criminal activities but are not labelled as such. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. Anywhere a black person is seen committing a crime, such person is assumed to be a Nigerian, and because our borders are porous, criminals migrate into Nigeria pretending to be indigenes. They commit some atrocities which further delineate the image of the country.”
He advised the government to pay attention to creating a new image and rebranding the country, adding that the issue of bad governance must be dealt with in earnest because it was markedly affecting the country’s image.
He stated, “We need to improve in terms of insecurity, welfare, and employment creation. The lingering ASUU strike is also affecting Nigeria’s image. We are in a state of globalisation and these issues are affecting us internally and externally. The concerns with the labour union should be settled so that the incessant strikes can stop. We need to look into these issues to redeem our image.”
In his comment on the development, a professor of international relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Funso Adesola, said that Nigeria’s poor international rating generally was due to the negative global perception.
According to him, Nigerians all over the world are regarded as suspects who caused all sorts of dehumanising scrutiny in international airports. He added that such profiling was unfair.
He explained that the rate of the exodus of Nigerians overseas further contributed to the low rating, stating however that the level of insecurity and harsh economy propelled migration to other countries. This, he noted, was a result of bad leadership and mismanagement of resources.
He said, “In Nigeria, it is difficult to get employment after graduating from a tertiary institution. People are looking for greener pastures. Many oil-producing Arabian countries are using their funds pretty well. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, we squander our oil resources. Wealth is not circulating, and there is no hope for the average Nigerian.”
Adesola also noted that Nigeria’s demography was over 200 million and it was likely to find a Nigerian anywhere in the world seeking opportunities. He added that most Nigerians leave the country to study abroad, stating that such a move was an escapist movement.
On the solution to the situation, he stated, “There is inappropriate management of our country, a deficit in governance, and no infrastructure in the land. The resources have denied citizens of basic amenities. Appropriate structuring in governance will enhance the quality of life of our people and give hope to individuals in getting employment and healthcare as and when they need it.
“This is a governance issue. If our resources are well managed, we will not be where we are currently. We are supposed to be the cynosure of all eyes to other African countries, attracting more investments and people in different parts of the world to enhance our standard of living and glory as a nation.”
On his part, a peace and conflict expert and professor of public administration at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Felix Akpan, said that the bad image caused by fraudulent persons increased the low rating and thorough scrutiny of Nigerians seeking greener pastures in other countries.
He noted that the internal crisis, insurgency, kidnappings, and poor government policies, also affected the rating, stating that the shady image constantly fuelled ill-treatment of Nigerians around the globe. He further said that most African countries weren’t as rich and populous as Nigeria, noting that such placed them above Nigeria on the chart.
He stated, “How many citizens of Mali or eastern European countries will you see in other countries such as China, the UK, or America? Nigerians are everywhere. This has both positive and negative implications on our image.
“The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has been intervening and redeeming the Nigerian image abroad by looking into the issues that affect Nigerians and challenging countries on issues. But there is more to be done. The Nigerian government needs to pay more attention to these issues.
“Nigerians are likewise to blame for these issues. We sometimes try to play smart by not obeying stipulated rules. At the airport, a Nigerian tries to shun queues. When immigration notices you, you are scrutinised more just by disobeying the rules.
“Nigerians shouldn’t travel overseas to perpetrate evil but to do the right things. If one travels for the right reasons, the rate of assault will be minimal. These countries allow people who want to contribute to their economy without much interrogation.”