The Boko Haram insurgency and civil unrest have been identified as Nigeria’s problems.
Nigeria is the fifth least peaceful country in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the 2020 edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI).
GPI ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness, and claims to cover 99.7% of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources.
In its report released on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Nigeria was ranked 40th out of 45 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 147th globally.
Only Central African Republic (41st), Democratic Republic of the Congo (42nd), Somalia (43rd), and South Sudan (44th) ranked lower than Nigeria.
Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, and Sierra Leone were ranked as the most peaceful on the continent, in the order they were listed.
Globally, Iceland remains the most peaceful country, a position it has held since 2008, followed by New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark. Afghanistan ranked lowest.
Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a slight fall in peacefulness on the 2020 GPI, with an overall score deterioration of 0.5%.
GPI said the unending terrorist insurgency of Boko Haram in the northeast region is partly responsible for Nigeria’s terrible ranking.
The Islamic sect has terrorised the restive region for over a decade, killing tens of thousands and displacing millions.
The report said conflict between government forces and the terrorist group led to the death of an estimated 640 civilians in 2019.
“Over the last year, the country has recorded further deteriorations in Militarisation and Ongoing Conflict and an overall deterioration in peacefulness of 0.8 per cent,” the report noted.
Nigeria is also noted to have accounted for the largest number of demonstrations and the largest increase in civil unrest in Sub-Suharan Africa
The country was also listed with 14 other countries identified as having very high risk of food shortages from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus disease has infected over 7 million people across the world and interrupted social and economic activities.
Nigeria, like most nations globally, is only just easing restrictions even though the disease is still spreading with huge numbers of new infections recorded daily.
The impact of violence in Nigeria in 2019 is estimated to have cost a little over N99 million.
The only positive note for Nigeria in the report is that it is one of the countries where conflict deaths dropped significantly.
Much of that is believed to be due to the drop in terrorism-related deaths which peaked in 2014, as with the rest of the world, and has significantly continued to fall ever since.
Lawmakers lament insecurity
During plenary on Wednesday, Nigerian lawmakers in the House of Representatives pressed for a constitutional review that allows private citizens to bear arms and defend themselves against criminal attacks.
Toby Okechukwu, representative of Aninri/Agwu/Oji-uzo Federal Constituency, Enugu, said the inability of the security agencies to keep up with security issues should trigger the need for people to be equipped to protect themselves.
“When the people who are employed to defend you are not able to do it, you have no option than to fight for your own existence,” he said.
Mohammed Tahir Monguno, representative of Monguno/Marte/Nganzai Federal Constituency, Borno, backed Okechukwu’s position, further noting that Nigerians should be allowed access to ‘sophisticated arms’ to better match their attackers.
Monguno, who lamented that his constituency is similarly troubled by Boko Haram terrorists, further warned the government to take the issue of security more seriously.
“Any government that cannot protect the lives and property of its citizens, ab initio, is not supposed to exist a minute longer than absolutely necessary because that is the primacy of governance,” he said.
Musa Pali, representative of Alkaleri/Kirfi Federal Constituency, Bauchi, offered a slightly different solution, proposing instead that local vigilante groups be used to defend communities.
The lawmakers also reprimanded the nation’s service chiefs for their unsatisfactory performance, and called for drastic measures to curb insecurity in the country.