The government should take the lead in instituting social policies that would discourage recourse to violence

The mid-term of the Muhammadu Buhari administration was marked two weeks ago without pomp and ceremonies. It could not have been otherwise. Not only was the president abroad on medical leave, a report on Fragile States Index (FSI) for 2017, released at about the period, also categorised Nigeria as the 13th most fragile state in the world.

Compiled by the Fund for Peace (FFP), a Washington DC-based organisation, the report showed that Nigeria retained her 2016 unenviable position, indicating that not much progress had been made in the effort to remedy the political and socio-economic conditions that were dragging the country down the slope. The assessment, which started 12 years ago, is an early warning system for analysing domestic threats that have the potential to escalate to major national crises with international outcome. Subsequently, development organisations in Europe and North America saw in the US experience, the danger extremist tendencies in weak states could pose to stronger countries and the international community.

The FSI, therefore, 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 101.6 out of 120. 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 higher a country’s total score, the more fragile it is. Of the 178 countries assessed this year, 165 countries were more stable than Nigeria because each of them scored lower than 101.6.

Perhaps the federal government is still assessing the report hence it has not commented on it. We, however, think it is a matter for serious concern that Nigeria has 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. She has degenerated since then, sliding to 17th in 2007, 18th in 2008, 15th in 2009 and 14th between 2010 and 2012. The current position puts her in the high alert category of countries whose scores fall between 110 and 100. They include Afghanistan, Iraq and Democratic Republic of Congo. These are countries that have been ravaged by war in recent times.

No doubt Nigeria merits her position. With the Boko Haram devastation of the North-east, wanton kidnapping and armed robbery in the south, the rampage of violent herdsmen in most part Middle-Belt as well as internecine ethnic strife in several parts of the country, it is not difficult to see how Nigeria fell so badly short of the standards set for the various political indicators. It is very clear that the Nigerian state is losing the dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors.

To compound the problem, the prevailing economic downturn has worsted the capacity of both the state and individuals so much so that basic necessities of life, including food, medicare and shelter have gone far beyond the reach of the majority of Nigerians. That Nigeria is a failing state is, therefore, no longer open to debate. What we need to debate now is how to apply the wedge and pull her back to stability.

On this score, we urge introspection and ask 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 that is needed for economic growth and development.