The present ranking is another wake-up call

That the 2019 edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which is described as the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, retained Nigeria on the same spot as last year came as no surprise. Nigeria has in the past one year been anything but peaceful. Nearly every part of the country has been engulfed by violence. Not only are citizens afraid to travel through some Nigerian roads, many can no longer visit their farms where several men and women had been hacked down, killed or raped. It is therefore understandable that like 2018, Nigeria is still ranked 148th among 163 independent states and territories by the GPI.

From the Boko Haram insurgency to herdsmen violence and banditry, it is evident that peace has eluded the country. Hardly does any day pass by without scores of Nigeria being either massacred or raped even in the presence of their husbands in different parts of the country. In many of the states, the highways have also been taken over by kidnappers. The Ibadan – Ife Expressway, Okenne – Lokoja road and Kaduna-Abuja road as well as the forests of Ondo and Ekiti States, kidnapping has reached a crescendo. In most of these notorious routes, killer herdsmen are being fingered with all the dire implications for peace and security in the country.

There are compelling reasons why the authorities must act fast. Following the lackadaisical attitude of the security agencies and the federal government towards reining in the sophisticated gun-wielding criminals, there is a growing perception that otherwise law abiding citizens may have to make their own security arrangements to secure their lives and property. This feeling that help would not come from official quarters has intensified with the extension of the aggression of some herdsmen to the southern part of the country as more farming communities fall under their unprovoked attacks.

Such feeling of insecurity and the compelling urge for citizens to arrange for their own defence can only worsen the situation on the ground. Private or community arrangements for security against gunmen would require private accumulation of arms. In this bid to balance terror, our country runs the risk of becoming home to massive illicit arms with assured disastrous consequences. Placing Nigeria among the five least peaceful countries in sub-Saharan Africa and ranking it along with violence-ridden countries such Somali, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic is worrying. Nigeria is being ranked along with failed states such as Somalia. This is a wake-up call on the presidency to do the needful by decisively addressing Nigeria’s security challenges beyond the routine security meetings in the State House which yields no tangible result.

The GPI, which is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peacefulness across the domains of safety and security, ongoing conflict, and militarisation. With the rampaging level of conflicts, banditry and other criminal activities across the country, we couldn’t have expected a better ranking. This is more so that there is no noticeable will by the federal government to tackle the menace of insecurity and restore lasting peace to the troubled country. Instead, recent agitations from various parts of the country have portrayed the leadership of the country as contributing to the menace following its decision to keep the heads of security agencies in office despite their lack-lustre performance.

What particularly worries is that though bestial killings dominate headlines almost on a daily basis, not much seemed to have been done to arrest the situation. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address this dangerous descent to anarchy in the interest of peace and stability in Nigeria.

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