Nigeria ranks 146th on Global Peace Index, 8th least peaceful in Africa

• COVID-19 causes a global rise in civil unrest
• Violence cost $14.96tr to the global economy
• Could take poorest countries a decade to recover from COVID-19 impact

The 2021 Global Peace Index (GPI) has ranked Nigeria 146 among 163 independent nations and territories, according to its level of peacefulness. Nigeria moved one step from 147 in 2020, though it still ranked eighth among the least peaceful countries in Africa after South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali.

In the report released yesterday, Nigeria finished with 2712 points and was graded low on the state of peace out of very high, high, medium, low and very low on the chart.

The GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), measures the state of peace in countries. It assesses countries in three domains, including the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation.

Describing the situation, the report said Nigeria continues to face challenges on both safety and security and ongoing conflict domains. The conflict between government forces and Boko Haram in the Northeast led to an estimated 1,606 people killed in 125 fatal incidents in 2020, making an average of 13 deaths per violent event in the Boko Haram insurgency of last year.

“Over the last year, the country has recorded further deteriorations in militarisation and ongoing conflict and an overall deterioration in peacefulness,” the report added.

The data 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 15th edition of the GPI also measured the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace. This looked especially at the impact of the pandemic, and in particular, how its economic consequences will increase the risk of severe deteriorations in peace over the next few years.x

Civil unrest rose 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.

Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. It is joined at the top of the index by 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 has been 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.x

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.

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