Nigeria ranks 146th on Global Peace Index

*8th least peaceful in Africa

*Iceland world’s most peaceful, Mauritius, topmost in Africa

By Myke Uzendu, with additional reports from The Guardian

The 2021 Global Peace Index (GPI) has placed Nigeria 146th among 163 independent nations and territories globally.

Nigeria improved by one step from 147th in 2020, but still ranked 8th in Africa, only above South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali.

In the report undexing global peace released Thursday, Nigeria was ranked 2, 712 points and was graded low on its state of peace, out of very high, high, medium, low and very low parameters shown on the chart.

The GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), measures the state of peace prevalent among all the countries in the world.

It assesses countries based on three categories, including the level of societal safety and security, the extent of on-going domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.

The report noted that “Nigeria continues to face challenges on both safety and security and on-going conflict domains.

“The conflict between government forces and Boko Haram in the North-East led to an estimated 1,606 people killed in 125 fatal incidents in 2020, making an average of 13 deaths per event in the Boko Haram insurgency of last year.

“Over the last year, the country has recorded further deteriorations in militarisation and on-going conflict and an overall deterioration in peacefulness”.

The statistics also recorded that “civil unrest in sub-Saharan Africa rose by more than 800 per cent over the period, with Nigeria accounting for the highest number of demonstrations and the most increase in civil unrest”.

The GPI report, said to be the15th edition also measured the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace.

It analysed the impact of the pandemic, and in particular, how its economic consequences wil affect the risk of severe deteriorations in peace over the next few years.

Civil unrest, it noted, rose ny 10 per cent globally, driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic caused a global rise in civil unrest and political insecurity”, according to the GPI report.

There were 14,871 violent demonstrations, protests and riots recorded globally in 2020.

The report said COVID-19 was a “multiplying force” in future political instability and civil unrest. It added the level of this unrest going forward is likely to hinge on the speed and effectiveness of economic recovery.

Countries with less debt and higher levels of positive peace were more likely to recover faster, it reported.

Iceland was categorised as the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008.

The area was listed at the top of the index along with New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia.

Mauritius is the most peaceful African country ranked 28th, followed by Ghana (38), Botswana (41), Sierra Leone (46) and The Gambia (53).

Afghanistan remained the world’s least peaceful country in the world for the fourth year in a row, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Iraq.

At the presentation of the report held virtually, Steve Killelea, CEO of the IEP said: “There has been a very slight decrease in peacefulness in 2020.

“That was mainly caused by an increase in the number of violent demonstrations and the levels of political instability.

“This year’s results show that the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.07 per cent, which is the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last 13 years.

“Part of that was fuelled by lockdowns from COVID-19 and the economic issues that followed.

“India, Eastern Europe and the United States showed the most deterioration on that level due to the rise in demonstrations over coronavirus-related restrictions.”

2020 will be etched in human memory as the ‘Year of Protests and Pandemic’. #EndSARS protest against police brutality in Nigeria reverberated across the world, the same way the #BlackLivesMatter jolted the world in response to the George Floyd incident in the USA.

According to Killelea, the effect of the pandemic is mixed.

“Initially, we saw a drop in the number of homicides and violent crimes as lockdowns were put in place.

“But that changed after a period of time. It is still too early to fully gauge the long-term effects of the pandemic on peace,” he said.

In 2020, the world witnessed almost 15,000 violent protests and riots.

The damage it caused came with a hefty price of about $15 trillion or 11.6 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Among those, more than 5,000 were pandemic-related and were recorded between January 2020 and April 2021.

The economic impact of violence to the global economy in 2020 was $14.96 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.

This figure is equivalent to 11.6 per cent of the world’s economic activity or $1,942 per person.

The economic impact of violence increased by 0.2 per cent during 2020.

This was mainly driven by an increase in global military expenditure, which rose by 3.7 per cent, however, the economic impact of terrorism fell by 17.5 per cent.

The $14.4 trillion is equivalent to the entire economy of China.

If humanity were to reduce violence by 10 per cent per annum, the savings of $1.4 trillion would equate to adding an economy the size of Russia or Brazil every year to the global fold.

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 255 million full-time jobs were lost.

However, among high-income countries, nations that operated with high levels of Positive Peace had the enabling environment to protect their workforces from the worst impacts of the pandemic.

According to World Bank estimates, the global economy shrank by 4.3 per cent in 2020, wiping out trillions of dollars, as countries already facing economic hardship sank further into debt.

A report by Oxfam International estimates that it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Other key findings from the report are: There was an increase in military expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the second straight year, with 105 countries deteriorating on this indicator. Despite the overall deterioration on the safety and security domain, there were a number of indicators that improved, including the internal conflict and terrorism impact indicators. Deaths from terrorism have been decreasing for the past six years.

*With additional reports from The Guardian.

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