Nigerian passport ranked 101st among 199 countries behind Togo, Niger, Chad, others
•Report dubious, of little consequence –Oyebode
Are your bags packed? Well, don’t be in too much of a hurry to hop on the next flight without the required visas: Nigeria’s passport is ranked 101st out of 199 countries. The ranking is based on the Henley Passport Index, described as the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports, according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a visa.
A London, United Kingdom-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, Henley and Partners, explained that the index was based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association — the largest, most accurate travel information database.
Japan is number one on the list, followed by Singapore in second place, and South Korea and Germany tied for third. Italy, Finland, Spain and Luxembourg take the fourth position, while Denmark and Austria round out the top five.
The company, on July 6, stated, “With the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics just weeks away, and the country in a ‘quasi’ state of emergency, Japan nonetheless retains its hold on the number one spot on the HPI — which is based on exclusive data from the IATA — with a theoretical visafree/visa-on-arrival score of 193.
“While the dominance of European passports in the top 10 has been a given for most of the index’s 16-year history, the pre-eminence of three Asian states — Japan, Singapore, and South Korea — has become the new normal.
“Singapore remains in second place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, and South Korea continues to share joint-third place with Germany, each with a score of 191.”
Seychelles (28th) leads all African countries on the list, followed by Mauritius (31st), South Africa (57th), Botswana (66th), Namibia (72nd), Lesotho (73rd), Eswatini (75th), Malawi (76th), Kenya and Tanzania (77th), Zambia and Tunisia (78th), The Gambia (80th), Uganda and Cape Verde Islands (81st).
African countries that outperformed Nigeria also included Zimbabwe (83rd), Ghana and Morocco (84th), Sierra Leone and Mozambique (85th), Benin (86th), São Tomé and Príncipe and Rwanda (87th), Mauritania (88th), Burkina Faso (89th), Gabon (90th), and Cote d’ivoire (91st).
Others were Senegal, Madagascar and Equatorial Guinea (92nd), Togo and Guinea (93rd), Niger, Mali, Comoro Islands and Chad (94th), Guineabissau, Central African Republic and Algeria (95th), Egypt, Burundi and Angola (96th), Liberia and Cameroon (97th), Republic of the Congo (98th), and Djibouti (99th).
Nigeria beat only seven countries on the continent, namely Ethiopia (102nd), South Sudan (103rd), Eritrea and Democratic Republic of the Congo (104th), Sudan (106th), Libya (107th), and Somalia (111th).
A professor of International Economics at the University of Benin, Hassan Oaikhenan, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, described Nigeria’s ranking as not surprising, saying the country’s self-styled Giant of Africa status was a misnomer.
He said, “I am surprised that Nigeria came 101st out of 199. I expected
Nigeria would be closer to the bottom of the ladder because it is not a selfrespecting country.’’
Oaikhenan stated that the Nigerian passport was “as worthless as Nigeria’s currency,” saying a country that did not respect its own citizens should not expect other countries to show them respect.
The don argued that one needed to only witness the travails of Nigerians in the Diaspora trying to obtain a passport.
He said, “First of all, the claim that Nigeria is the Giant of Africa, as far as I’m concerned, is neither here nor there. It’s a spurious claim that cannot stand empirical evidence. In other words, for me, Nigeria is like a giant standing on feet of clay. It’s self-triangulation to be calling oneself the Giant of Africa.
“I’m aware of a friend who has been trying to renew their passport at the Nigerian consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. In fact, somewhere along the line, the person and some others were given appointments.
“They got there and were kept out there in the cold. Americans and other nationals were looking at Nigerians clustered around the Nigerian consulate in Atlanta. It’s shameful! If a country can treat its citizens that way, why do you expect another country to respect the integrity of that country’s passport?”
He described it as “arrant nonsense” to expect such, saying it was not news that other countries did not respect the Nigerian passport.
In its 2021 Q3 edition, the Henley & Partners Global Mobility Report, a quarterly publication that reportedly features commentary by leading scholars and experts on major trends, accounted for travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the “latest results and research” from the index, there is cause for optimism, though it must be tempered with the reality that cross-border travel continues to be significantly obstructed.
The report noted, “Although some progress has been made, between January and March 2021, international mobility had been restored to just 12 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the same period in 2019, and the gulf between theoretical and actual travel access offered by even high-ranking passports remains significant.
“When compared to the actual travel access currently available even to the holders of top-scoring passports, the picture looks very different: holders of Japanese passports have access to fewer than 80 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Saudi Arabia, which sits way down in 71st place in the ranking), while holders of Singaporean passports can access fewer than 75 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Kazakhstan, which sits in 74th place).’’
However, a professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, faulted the methodology of the HPI, arguing that rather than passports, one should examine the impact of political leadership in tandem with the welfare of nationals to ascertain a country’s global standing.
Oyebode, in an email to Sunday PUNCH, said, “This ranking is dubious and of little consequence in relation to validity and/or acceptability of a country’s passport and any other travel document. A country’s standing within the international community has more to do with good governance and enhancement of the quality of life of the citizens than rankings of self-induced assessors.” ,,