The 2021 report on Fragile States Index (FSI) which ranked Nigeria as the 12th most fragile state in the world indicates that we have declined by two further steps. Last year, Nigeria was rated the 14th most fragile state. Compiled by the Fund for Peace (FFP), a Washington DC-based organisation, the FSI focuses on weak and failing states. What the report reveals is that not much progress has been made in the effort to remedy the political and socio-economic conditions that have been dragging the country down the slope. The assessment, which started 16 years ago, is an early warning system for analysing domestic threats that have the potential to escalate to major national crisis with international outcome.

The FSI, is a predictive model for signposting trouble spots that the international community must keep in view for quick intervention in the event of outbreak of conflict. The report this year identified Nigeria as one of the states the international community must keep in view, having scored a relatively high figure which places it in the “alert” category, trailed only by countries with long-standing political and security woes like Central African Republic, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the like. Individual FSI score is usually any number from zero to 10 that depicts the intensity of the pressure exerted by each of 12 social, economic, and political indicators on conditions within each of the countries on the index. The lower a country’s total score, the more stable it is.

Nigeria has for several years remained firmly rooted in the top 20 of the weakest states in the world. When the assessment started in 2005, the country was ranked 54. That has remained the best. She has degenerated since then, sliding to 17th in 2007, 18th in 2008, 15th in 2009 and 14th between 2010 and 2012.

There is no disputing the fact that Nigeria merits her position. With the Boko Haram devastation of the North-east, wanton kidnapping and armed robbery, the rampage of violent herdsmen in most part of the Middle-Belt as well as separatist agitations in some parts of the country, Nigeria has fallen so badly short of the standards set for the various political indicators. It is clear that the Nigerian state is losing the dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors.

The failure to protect the people is put squarely at the doorsteps of the federal government that has lost the capacity to rein in sundry cartels of gunmen who now terrorise several communities across the country, particularly in the North. To compound the problem, the prevailing economic downturn worsened by the Coronavirus pandemic has constrained the capacity of both the state and individuals, so much so that necessities of life, including food, medicare and shelter have gone far beyond the reach of most Nigerians. The conflicts are widening, and agitations are increasing by the day. What we need to debate now is how to apply the wedge and pull her back from the brink.

The first duty of any government is that of protecting the society from violence and invasion of their privacy by others, while the second duty is the protection, as far as possible, of every member of the society from injustice or oppression. When a government loses the capacity for both, anarchy beckons. We therefore urge the federal government to take the lead in instituting the appropriate social policies that would engender a regime of justice, a major requirement for the peace and security. The government could start with the restructuring process. It will resolve a lot of the pressures.

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