The Fund for Peace, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit, non-governmental research and educational institution, has ranked Nigeria as one of the world’s most unstable countries.
In its 12th annual Fragile States Index (FSI) released recently, Fund for Peace ranked Nigeria alongside war-torn Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraqi, Guinea, Pakistan, Burundi and Zimbabwe. It stated that the situation in Nigeria deteriorated in 2015 when compared with 2014.
Fund for Peace cited the economic downturn occasioned by the fall in oil price and the activities of Boko Haram in the North-eastern part of Nigeria for classifying Nigeria among countries where peace deteriorated in 2015.
Nigeria was also placed among countries classified as “high alert” meaning that the situation in Nigeria had worsened compared to the previous year. This category is just one level shy of the “very high alert” which comprises countries like Syria, Somalia, Central Africa Republic, Congo Democratic Republic, Yemen, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan where peace had totally collapsed.
The 2016 FSI, the 12th edition of the annual index, comprises data collected between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 — thus certain well-publicised events that have occurred since January 1, 2016 are not covered by the 2016 index.
The index is an annual ranking of 178 nations based on their levels of stability and the pressures they face.
The index is based on the Fund for Peace’s proprietary Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST) analytical platform. Based on comprehensive social science methodology, data from three primary sources are triangulated and subjected to critical review to obtain final scores for the FSI. Millions of documents are analysed every year, and by applying highly specialised search parameters, scores are apportioned for every country based on 12 key political, social and economic indicators and over 100 sub-indicators that are the result of years of painstaking expert social science research.
In an explanation note, the Fund for Peace, after making reference to Syria, cited Nigeria as another example where destabilising cross-border effects could be seen.
It said, “Beset by a tumultuous electoral campaign in 2015 that saw the administration of Goodluck Jonathan unseated by the return to power of Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s standing in the Fragile States Index has worsened, as the economy is deeply impacted by falling oil prices and the north of the country is terrorised by Boko Haram insurgency.”
It stated that like the crisis in Syria, pressures had bled across Nigeria’s borders to its neighbours.
It categorised Nigeria’s neighbour, Cameroun, as the second most worsened country in 2016.
Cameroun had seen a marked increase in cross-border violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.
The organisation observed that Boko Haram has widened its campaign beyond Nigeria’s borders and is kidnapping and ambushing Camerounian security forces, as well as targeting Camerounian civilians.
It said, “Cameroun is also experiencing increasing pressures from Nigerian refugees fleeing into Cameroun to escape the violence in their own country, and in turn, placing intense pressure on food and medical supplies in Cameroun.
“The World Food Programme has estimated that as many as 100,000 people find themselves displaced in Cameroun as a result of the Boko Haram-generated instability, including both Nigerian refugees and internally-displaced Camerounians.”
Fund for Peace also stated that Niger, to Nigeria’s north, was similarly under pressure as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Though Niger has not worsened as much in the past year as has Cameroun, it is nevertheless still experiencing intense pressures. In late 2015, the Nigerien government declared a state of emergency in the border region of Diffa, adjacent to Nigeria, to deal with the continued cross-border attacks by Boko Haram that has already claimed a growing number of civilian casualties. Adding further pressure on Niger – which is one of the world’s poorest countries and finds itself at the bottom of UNDP’s annual development report – it is estimated by UNHCR that in 2015 alone, 150,000 Nigerian refugees had fled across the border into Niger to escape the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.
“Notably, Chad has also seen clear worsening over the past year, however it is less clear as to how much of that worsening was contributed by the spillover from Nigeria, particularly as Chadian troops find themselves heavily involved in engaging Boko Haram, even within Nigeria’s borders,” the FSI report stated.
The report said it was clear that Cameroun and Niger – and to a lesser extent, Chad – were coming under intense pressure induced by violence and instability in its larger neighbour, Nigeria.
While the Buhari administration has taken bold steps to fight insecurity in the country, Nigerians must support government’s efforts to make the country a better place for all. Infighting insecurity and other anomalies in the society, deliberate efforts must be made to provide employment for the nation’s teeming youths. The high level of unemployment in the country is a security issue that must be urgently addressed.
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