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Published On: Sun, Oct 5th, 2014

Nigeria, 2014 Fragile State Index and matters arising

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By Ochiaka Ugwu

In a 2014 Fragile States Index (formally the failed state Index) released by the United States think-tank Fund for Peace, Nigeria was placed 17th in the overall list while topping the list as the country with highest alert.

Although the country was placed 16th in 2013 index, but pundits were quick to point out that the fund is being charitable with Nigeria since things have not changed much after the last release. According to the release, fragile state has several attributes common indicators which range from a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective, that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations and sharp economic decline.

The report also uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation which are as follows, Mounting demographic pressures, Massive displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies, Widespread vengeance seeking group grievance, Chronic and sustained human flight are classified under social factor while Uneven economic development along group lines, Severe economic decline are placed under economic factor.

The last classification is the political which has Political Criminalization and/or delegitimization of the state, Deterioration of public services, Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses, Security apparatus operating as a “state within a state”, Rise of factionalized elites and Intervention of external political agents as its own concern.

This release will automatically raise some issues that borders on the government perceived social contract to the populace, a time to take stock on the state of the nation.

It is when discussion shifts to state weaknesses and strengths, mostly seen through the crucial lens of whether a state is capable of shouldering its responsibilities toward its citizens. In other words, if a state does not or cannot honour its social contract, it is fragile or failed state, as the case may be as that is the main reason we have government in the first place. Invariably, often these findings evoke in many individuals automatic dismissal saying that it is just ordinary statistics that is very far from reality.

For instance, Nigerians strongly believe that the report is not feasible and of no effect; this has led them to the conclusion that it thus could not be a fragile state.

Nevertheless, what they fail to realize is, as discussed most times in seminars Africa’s fragile states & why Nigeria remains one of them, fragility is a state, susceptibility to crisis, the gathering over time of the conditions for state collapse.

Their resolution is not final. It does not mean that it is bound to occur, since it depends on what the particular state does to improve its situation. It is however, better to see this from the angle of it being a possibility and take the necessary measures to protect citizens and improve their living conditions. It is a challenge to any responsible government.

For instance, Sudan has discussed in the 2013 index, and before, third position in the High Alert Category, but has gone to fifth position. At that time, its score was 111.0 – Group Grievance (GC) indicator getting a full ten-point, its Security Apparatus (SEC) another full ten-point and Factionalized Elite metric being 9.6 score. While improvements were acknowledged by -0.3, we see now the state and the mortal threat of total collapse. For the past ten years, the Fund for Peace has been driving the

discussion on state fragility to push it into the fore of the international agenda through its 2014 Fragile States Index, which is published on a yearly basis. In the case of Nigeria, the 2014 index shows that it remains in its usual ALERT category as pertains in its internal cohesion and eventually stability.

There are indications of worsening in some crucial areas, even when its overall score has improved by -1.0, moving up from 100.7 to 99.7. At the same time, inexplicably the improvements are in the following metrics, where there public dissatisfactions and complaints are heard, i.e., Demographic pressure (DP), Uneven Economic Development (UED), Poverty and Economic Decline (ECO), Human Rights and Rule of Law (HR) and the Security Apparatus (SEC). Nonetheless, it is important to bear in mind, just as in the case of Sudan, the other indicators of Nigeria happen to be very high – on average above the score of 8.3. After all, Nigeria would not have been placed under ALERT category.

It is an indication of the concern within the international community. ALERT is the third category for fragile states, since above it are also states in categories under HIGH ALERT and VERY HIGH ALERT. Along with Nigeria are 17 other states in this category, Nigeria is leading the pack, followed by Kenya and Ethiopia.

Rwanda comes last in this group.

Why states fail has been brilliantly discussed in the present report, accompanying the index, including the necessary details as to the how and why treated and numbers tagged before the name of each country. It states:

Some of the issues highlighted in the Index are not easy topics to discuss. Some governments have failed their people catastrophically and some have done it intentionally and violently.

Sometimes countries with very strong governments are the most repressive. Often, those are governments who purposely choose not to have a social contract with the whole of their population and continue to choose their own interests, or the interests of a few, over the good of all.

It is critical to call attention to those governments and the way they operate.

Nigeria in this year’s report has scored 99.7 – measured against 12 metrics – aggregated into three indicators of social, economic and political and military nature: each of which speak directly to our country’s situation.

Consequently, based on this scale, Nigeria has been placed in the ‘worsening’ category. Even if collapse is not possibly imminent, but ranking 17th conveys a sense of a state in danger of failing woefully. When compared with other better ranking states.

On the other end, on the ranking of 178th is, Finland, which is described as the most stable and “very sustainable.”

Finally, why should we be interested in who is failing or who is in danger? The 2014 Fragile State Index reacted by stating that weak and failing states pose a challenge to the international community.

In today’s world, with its highly globalized economy, information systems and interlaced security, pressures on one fragile state can have serious repercussions not only for that state and its people, but also for its neighbours and other states halfway across the globe. For us in Nigeria, we will always protect our own as we have no other country than Nigeria.

So it is everybody’s business to always watch and monitor the progress of the country as it is our greatest asset. Today, thousands of souls are wasting in the Middle East in a quest to establish a nation they can call their own. For no other reason other than this, there is every need for us to guide our nation jealously irrespective of claims made by the present administration towards achieving a stable and prosperous nation.

 

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