The FfP means Fund for Peace. It is an American NGO which is concerned about bringing peace in the world as the name implies. Some years ago, FfP in its list of countries by failed state index, places Nigeria in the 14th position.
The nomenclature has been changed from failed states to fragile states with Nigeria currently on the dishonorable 13th place.
Tara voices’ Nick Dugba, analyses the implication of the earlier ranking on our social and political future as Nigeria celebrate its 56 independence anniversary as well as its connection to the current social and economic hardship in the country.
Believe it or not, Nigeria has been termed as those states that were ‘critically weak.’ This was made known by the U.S think tank Fund for Peace (FfP) in its release posted on the BBC news website and Google years ago.
Perhaps, that rating was prophetic as Nigeria today is facing the reality of the indicators mentioned earlier.
According to the statement, a failed state has several attributes. Common indicators include; 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.
Does one need to say more? Are these indicators not being experienced today?
This body which commenced the annual publication of the Index in 2005, uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation, inclusive of those mentioned earlier on.
These factors are however subdivided under social, economic and political factors.
Under social factors we have: Mounting demographic pressures, massive movement of refugees or Internally Displaces Persons (IDPs) creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, Legacy of vengeance, Chronic, and Sustained Human Flight.
Under the economic factors is Uneven economic development along group lines, sharp and severe economic decline.
As for the political, criminalization and delegitimization of the state, progressive deterioration of public services, suspension of the arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violation of human rights were identified.
Others include operation of the security apparatus as a ‘state within a state,’ rise of factionalized elites and intervention of other states or external political actors (Congo and Zimbabwe under the current political situation come to the fore)
The BBC Focus on Africa magazine reported thus: “the Brookings Institutions index of state weakness ranks Nigeria 28 out of 141 developing countries…it places the self-styled “giant of Africa” in the honoured company of Somalia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The magazine further confirmed that…’if the Brookings Institution takes a kind view of Nigeria, The American Funds for Peace, (FfP), a research body, thinks otherwise.
In its 2008 index of failed states, Nigeria is only two short rungs away from being in the same category as Somalia and Zimbabwe.
Ironically, Nigeria has to look up the ladder at Sierra Leone and Liberia, two countries she spared no expense of life, limb and hard currency to bring out of civil wars to restore to democracy,” concludes the statement.
That is the state of a country that prides itself as the giant of Africa and which occupies a higher niche on the diplomatic, economic, social and political circles of Africa since independence.
And it is not without gainsaying the fact that, if the country is so placed in a precarious position, what then becomes of the political future of African countries who regard Nigeria as the ‘Big Brother.’ (Africa remains the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy).
Bearing the interplay of political, social and economic forces since the inception of democracy in 1999 which has heated up the system and the little progress which has been dwarfed by those conflicts, we may not be far from the obvious.
The Niger Delta conflict, the insurgency in the north, the social dislocation as a result of herdsmen/farmers’ clash and the institutional decay in the National Assembly, are not the least a time bomb waiting to explode.
Perhaps, It is the emerging trend lately that warranted the conceptualization and launching of the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign of the government of the day, perhaps to mitigate the effect of the bad image the country is wearing as well as the global perception of it.
However, contrary to this opinion, Ogaga Ifowodo, a lawyer and Poet, has this to say ‘…while Nigerians notoriously prickly in their nationalism, may loudly denounce any suggestions from abroad of the imminent disintegration of their country, they nonetheless admit the unflattering truth of this possibility to themselves and each other’.
Meanwhile, the Fund for Peace (FfP), has said that all is not lost for those countries that have been listed as failed states or are on the brink of joining that disreputable club.
It stated that at one time India and Indonesia among others found themselves in that list but worked their way out becoming some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
As it is and going by those factors listed, the population bear the burden while the remote cause could be traced to bad governance.
It is thus worth the while to say that the course of good governance can be charted when people enter into a social contract with their leaders where accountability, responsiveness, the rule of law become the guiding principle.
Therefore, the big challenge now rests with the present leadership in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari as well as with Nigerians.
As for me, I believe an opportunity has presented itself for Nigerians in the face of this economic downturn, to diversify and avoid the pitfalls of the past.
That can be achieved by going back to agriculture, the mainstay of our economy in the past as well as elect credible leaders.
The damage has already been done as a result of bad governance, corruption, social upheavals and institutional and systemic decay which can’t be fixed immediately by a single administration.
We can only resort to ‘damage control,’ to avert the ugly disaster awaiting us in the future. Therefore, Nigerians must not perceive our problems as having the capacity of a ‘quick fix.’
While not underestimating the complexity of the Nigerian problem, I am of the opinion that certain factors be they economic, social or otherwise are sub ordinate to the political factor. In other words, as complex as a country’s problems are, once the political problem is solved, all other things fall into place; at least if not in totality but to the extent of liberating itself from that disreputable status of a failed state.
List of Countries by Fragile State Index 2016 (First20)
2. South Sudan
3. Central Africa Republic
8. DR. Congo
Source: google.com (List of States by Fragile States Index) Fund for Peace.