Opinion: Nwagbara’s False Comparative History of Ghana and Nigeria – Part 8 by Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

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“Professor” Augustine (Austin) Uzoma Nwagbara

Dismissed Nigerian Visiting Professor of English and Linguistics at Winneba’s University of Education (UEW), Prof. Augustine (Austin) Uzoma Nwagbara, continues to be vindicated around the world for the very reason for which his sabbatical leave had been abruptly terminated, that is, after a videoclip surfaced on social media on which Prof. Nwagbara had been captured volubly and intemperately disparaging the quality of Ghana’s tertiary academies. In what appears to be a front-page news article in a newspaper called “Whatsup News,” dated Friday, June 21, 2019, and captioned “Ghana ‘Chops Last’ in World Education Ranking – Despite Free Education,” a Human Capital Index (HCI) survey of some 150 countries around the world, either conducted or sponsored by the Washington, DC-based Bretton-Woods establishment, so-called, that is, the twin financial institutions known as the World Bank or IBRD – The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development –  and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), places the quality of Ghanaian basic public schools, properly speaking, the country’s K-through-12 school system, at 149 out of 150 countries. We are also informed that about the only country among the list of countries surveyed whose basic-education quality is marginally worse than Ghana’s is Niger, a neighboring West African country which is also described as economically the poorest in the world.

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You see, Niger is a Francophone nation, so I kept wondering whether Ghana’s decision, early this year, to become a full-fledged member of the Francophone Alliance, which is socioeconomically and politically presided over by the erstwhile “Colonial Father” of Nigeria’s immediate northern neighbor, that is, France, was anything meaningfully worth writing home about, as it were. I also tried to figure out from cyber search engine Google but came up blank on Nigeria vis-à-vis the World Bank’s latest HCI ranking for Nigeria. I was, however, able to get the latter country’s ranking for the year 2018, which was given as 152 out of some 157 countries. In essence, practically speaking, Ghana and Nigeria are in the same socioeconomic, cultural and intellectual boat or ship, if the Dear Reader likes. Which clearly gives the lie to Prof. Nwagbara’s prideful or boastful assertion that in terms of the quality of his country’s tertiary academies, those of Ghana are at least 80-percent inferior to those of Nigeria. Now, Nigeria’s position of 152 out of 157 countries in the 2018 global ranking is, statistically speaking, slightly worse than Ghana’s ranking in 2019 of 149 out of 150 countries. Unfortunately, I have yet to conduct a cursory survey of the quality of Nigeria’s universities and colleges compared to those of Ghana. In the meantime, what became clear to me was the fact that on average, a Ghanaian citizen was more likely to acquire more education, in terms of the number of years spent in the classroom, than his or her Nigerian counterpart.

On average, a Ghanaian is likely to acquire roughly the general equivalent of just under 12 years of schooling or a Senior High School Education, whereas his/her Nigerian counterpart can only be expected to acquire just a little over 8 years of basic education. In the surmised opinion of Prof. Nwagbara, that is this writer’s estimation of the same, this statistical differential may not mean very much since, after all, the quality of Ghanaian education is only 20-percent that of Nigerian public education. The numbers, in terms of literacy, sharply contradict the assessment by the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Nigeria. For instance, Ghana’s literacy rate, at 77-percent, is nearly 20-percent higher than that of Nigeria’s, which is estimated to be 60-percent. These are the figures given for the year 2015, and so it is all too logical for the student or specialist of these figures, that is, the statistically numerate, to expect some slight to a bit of substantial changes. We must also quickly point out that it was not clear to this writer, whether Nigeria had participated in the latest or most recent World Bank-sponsored Human Capital Index Survey. A qualified statistician ought to be able to inform the rest of us about the same.

What is also clear, at least on the face of things to yours truly, is the fact that even hypothetically assuming that Prof. Nwagbara had a salient element of truth on his side, nonetheless, the fact would still remain, even as one of my Ghanaian-born graduate school professors, himself of Northern-Nigerian descent, once said to me in a sneering tone of amused contempt, Nigerians do not appear to relatively appropriate any academic opportunities that they may have over their Ghanaian rivals and/or counterparts in any meaningfully significant ways. This observation, indeed, may very well reflect in the fact that when it comes to a measure of the Life-Expectancy Rate, the Nigerians may scandalously be envisaged to be still stuck smack in the Paleolithic or the Old-Stone Age, the massive and unprecedented oil boom in that country over the last 40 years notwithstanding. Currently, the general Life-Expectancy Rate for the average Nigerian is estimated to be in the vicinity of 54 years, for both men and women; whereas for the average Ghanaian, it is approximately 64 years.

In other words, on average, a Ghanaian citizen is far more likely to live at least 10 years, or a decade, longer than the average Nigerian, although in terms of Income Per Capita, the average Nigerian may be worth about $1,670 (USD) more than his or her Ghanaian counterpart. The Ghanaians, we are told, are fast inching up or catching up with the Nigerians. Perhaps this is due to Ghana’s recently discovered huge oil finds. Nigeria’s Gross National Income (GNI) currently stands at $ 5,680 (USD) per 2017 figures; it may, indeed, be quite a bit higher. On the other hand, Ghana’s GNI is estimated to be $ 4,010 in the latest published figures. Ultimately, what we see here, in terms of the quality of life index, as reflected in both the average level of education and the Life-Expectancy Rate for both Nigerians and Ghanaians, is the apparent fact that official or political corruption may very well be the bane of Nigeria’s socioeconomic, cultural and intellectual development. Which, of course, is in no way to suggest here that Ghanaians are, somehow, relatively freer from the bane of official corruption. Indeed, no such sanguine assessment could be more preposterous. Nevertheless, we can all see why far more Nigerian nationals seem to prefer making their homes in Ghana than vice-versa. As well, in spite of his inexcusably intemperate disparagement of the quality of Ghana’s tertiary academy, it is also significant to point out the fact that Prof. Nwagbara had still wanted to extend his stay in Ghana by having applied for a year’s extension of his sabbatical leave prior to his dismissal by the administrator’s of the Winneba-based University of Education.

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