Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Analysis of the Absurd: Diane Abbott's Nigeria-Jamaica Comparison

Why is it always tough (for Nigerians) to be on the receiving end of criticism, especially when the critique is coming from a "foreigner"?

This is the case with the Jamaica-Nigeria comparison ("Think Jamaica is bad? Try Nigeria") done by a British Member of Parliament, Ms Diane Abbott.

Her comparison was her style of putting the state of affairs in Jamaica in the right perspective, given the gloominess surrounding this caribbean state.

I have read her comparison, and I must say it's dead accurate. Her facts are straight and depict the situation on ground in Nigeria. Read the article if you haven't. Here is the intro:
"There is no doubt that Jamaica faces challenges. But I travelled around Nigeria last week with a group of British MPs. This West African country is potentially much richer and more powerful than Jamaica could ever be. Yet, in certain crucial aspects Nigeria is in an even worse position than little Jamaica, and contemplating the Nigerian situation might cause even the gloomiest Jamaican talk show host to count their blessings."
To my fellow Nigerians who have some beef with Ms Abbott(you know yourselves) over this issue, I'll say: "Cut the crap"! "Don't hate the player, hate the game!!!

On the other hand, Ms Abbott's comparison is somewhat absurd in the sense that she has successfully compared "oranges" to "apples"; for there is no, or little grounds for comparison in the first place. Even if their nationals look alike because of skin color; the demographics and socioeconomics of the two countries are not identical. Neither are their historical backgrounds.

Moreover, Nigeria being messed up despite its huge natural resources shouldn't be an excuse for Jamaica not to get its affairs in shape. Nigeria has had very turbulent past- the country survived a bloody civil war and successive rounds of dubious and visionless leadership. At times I wonder what keeps the country together despite the recurrent trauma it has suffered.

So to make Ms Abbott's comparison valid, one has to adjust for all the differences inherent in the countries so one can now compare "apples" to "apples". That is how it's done, not through a beer parlor analysis.

Jamaica just sworn in her first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller as the seventh prime minister on March 30th, 2006. This is an excellent opportunity to break the jinx, bring about meaningful changes, and generally improve the lot of Jamaicans. That is what matters...not some analysis/comparison of the absurd.