That Nigeria has been classified as one of the most dangerous countries in the world is alarming, depressing, and, indeed, frightening. This is a far cry from 13 years ago when Nigeria was reported to be the happiest country in the world. In its latest ranking of the safest and least safe countries, the world famous Gallup Poll placed Nigeria in a most unenviable situation. The global poll
by the research-based organization, the ‘2018 Global Law and Order’ report, is from Gallup’s latest measurements of people’s answers to questions based on more than 148,000 interviews with adults in 142 countries in 2017.
Nigeria placed 116th out of 142 countries with an index score of 66 which is lower than the global average score of 81. In other words, Nigeria is more unsafe than war torn Libya, less safe than Rwanda, once a theatre of ethnic genocide, less safe than Ethiopia which is rife with ethnic divisions and civil unrest and more dangerous than the Central African Republic that is bedeviled by civil strife. The Gallup Law and Order Index is a composite score based on people’s reported confidence in their local police, their feelings of personal safety, and the incidence of theft and violence in their lives in the past year. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling secure. The countries scoring the best (Singapore with 97) and the worst (Venezuela with 44) remain unchanged from 2016.
Gallup’s dispiriting assessment, as damning as it appears, seems reflective of the reality of our existence, and it is just one of the several surveys and global rankings in which we rate rather poorly in recent times. Every honest Nigerian must acknowledge the facts staring us on the face in the last two years arising from the Boko Haram insurgency, the depredations of the Fulani herdsmen, the regular criminality of kidnappers and armed robbers. Nigeria is unsafe and the least we can do is to acknowledge our situation and work towards a safer country. The consequences of insecurity in a nation like ours are that it is an impediment to investments by both foreign and indigenous investors. The cases of the illegal importation of arms and ammunition, which have necessitated the proposal by the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service to erect walls on our borders to check the inflow of arms and light weapons, are obvious signs that the safety of the country is uncertain. Unbridled smuggling of dangerous arms, and the ease of acquisition of such weapons play a role in the safety rating. We, therefore, urge the government to give this issue the priority attention it deserves because if Nigeria accounts for 70 per cent of the small, illicit arms imported into West Africa, investors would be hard put staking their business fortunes in a place that might turn into a whirlpool of violence.
The Fulani herdsmen have created a situation in which local farmers are petrified to go to their farms. Herdsmen have for generations moved in our country with sticks and staff. Now, they move around with assault weapons. No one has been able to explain the source of those weapons. The government has apparently refused to expose the suppliers or to enlighten the public on what it knows. Yet, somehow the nation must find a way to feed itself which means that it must create a favourable condition that encourages farming. When, however, farmers cannot go to farm, given the prevailing situation in many farming communities, the seed of greater misery in the land is sown and it is only a matter of time before famine arrives at our doorsteps.
We see the Gallup report as a wakeup call on the Federal Government to appreciate the serious situation of the country and take appropriate measures to stem the tide of violence that is sweeping through the land especially in the North Central region, and to invest more effort towards the eradication of the embers of violence by the herdsmen and Boko Haram.