BusinessDay

Insecurity worsens Nigeria’s development indicators

There are global concerns over the trend of insecurity in several nations, more so when it involves enemies of the state who bear arms and unleash mayhem on innocent citizens.

There has been a collaborative approach among different countries and institutions to tackling insecurity, especially terrorism, the most challenging global security issue. There is a strong relationship between security and economic growth because businesses and investments cannot strive in an unsafe environment. Nigeria has had its share of insecurity over the last two decades. According to Global Terrorism Index (GTI), Nigeria has two of the five deadliest terrorist groups in the world, namely; Boko Haram and Fulani extremists. Nigeria was rated the 3rd worst country with insecurity in the world in 2020 by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), behind Afghanistan and Iraq. These ratings have been of significant concern to security experts and the government.

Despite the government’s massive funding in defence, border security, a collaborative effort with other neighbouring nations, changes in security structures, repentance of hundreds of terrorists, and the internal crisis between Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) over supremacy, a lasting solution is still a concern for experts and the government.

Recent security attacks in different parts of Nigeria, especially the kidnap of school children in the North-West, North-Central, and North-East, have increased the number of out-of-school children. This statistics has over 10 million children out of school, the highest in the world according to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). These figures were projected to worsen by the World Bank in 2022. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has been the world’s poverty capital since 2016. This has been attributed to the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria, where people’s significant sources of economic livelihood have significantly been affected by terrorism, banditry, and farmers/herders’ frequent clashes. The inability of farmers to feel safe going to their farms and the forests being occupied by criminal elements have further affected food security and food prices in Nigeria.

Insecurity in Nigeria has disrupted the supply chain as road transport that is regularly used to move goods and services from the Northern to the Southern part has worsened over the fear of kidnapping and diverting goods. The Nigerian business environment has been concerned about investment safety in Nigeria as some foreign investors are migrating to other safer neighbouring countries for investment. The potential in the tourism industry has equally been affected by safety concerns for tourists. There are high incidences of rural-urban migration, which has increased congestion in urban cities, accompanied by high levels of youth unemployment, especially in urban areas.

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The security challenges have affected chiefly women and children in Nigeria. There are increasing cases of health crises, hunger, and starvation. Women and girls have been exposed to rape, forced marriages, lack of education, lack of equal economic opportunities, and other abuses even in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) where they seek refuge. The death of able and productive men over insecurity has caused an unbalanced marriage market for women at marriageable age with fewer men at their disposal. There is an increase in budgetary allocations to defence in acquiring more military hardware, equipment, and internal security at the detriment of other vital sectors like health, education, and investment in human capital development and programmes. There are tendencies of a crisis economy, a situation where people take undue advantage of the security situation in a place to their economic benefit and enrichment. Insecurity in Nigeria has been linked to an underlying religious undertone, raising cases of religious intolerance, extremism, and a battle for superiority. This religious onslaught has heightened fear over the safety of worshippers in practising their faith in Nigeria.

The presence of many foreign humanitarian agencies and organisations in Nigeria is a pointer to the challenges currently bedevilling Africa’s most populated nation. Insecurity has spread like wildfire all over Nigeria, with the government’s efforts not enough to address the root cause of these challenges. Poverty, the number of school children unable to go back to school or continue with their education, loss of people’s source of income, health crisis, migration induced by insecurity, hunger, starvation, unemployment, and gender-based violence present a considerable challenge to this present administration. Government at state and local levels must complement and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to identify sustainable but practical solutions to these issues. Nigeria’s ability to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is also a concern to foreign development institutions in Nigeria. Government must engage the community and ethnic and religious leaders in areas faced with these challenges and demonstrate political will and action to salvage the problems.

Alikor Victor is a development economist & policy analyst at The Nextier Group

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