Measuring Peace in Nigeria
An increasing amount of attention to peace indexes has provided insights into the levels of peace and conflict around the world. The indicators used in Vision of Humanity’s renowned Global Peace Index have now been adopted in a Nigeria Peace Index, created by the Foundation for Peace Professionals (FFP), with slight adjustments made to suit local use. FFP Executive Director Abdulrazaq O Hamzat is a Human Rights ambassador, and shares his views on what the NPI can provide peacebuilders in the country.
Measuring peace at the national level allows a country to assess the social, political and economic factors that create peace. More importantly, the NPI will allow peace builders in Nigeria to change the narrative, by concentrating the advocacy on foundational indices of peace, not conflict management. By focusing the discussion on fundamental indices of peace, we are channeling efforts towards advocating for improvement in those factors that make the society empowered and less prone to conflict.
To design the NPI five broad indicators were adopted; crime rate, level of human rights abuse, level of poverty, level of education, and rate of incarceration. Under these five broad categories, there are sub-indicators, which include rates of communal clashes, kidnapping, extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrest and detention, armed robbery and many others. We collected data from across the 36 states of the federation between 2010 and 2016.
It is important to note that a perception of peace is not the same as presence of peace. Perceptions can be shaped by external factors, such as media reports. The more coverage of negative stories a state receives, the greater the perception of lack of peace and vice versa. It is on the basis of news coverage that newspapers give opinions on their op-ed pages. Talk shows on television have turned the sharing of opinions into a national pastime. Editors and talk show hosts strive to give us a range of opinions that stretch from one end of the spectrum to another. At another level, people are enlisted to share their thoughts and feelings publicly on any number of social, moral, and political matters. As a result, some people spend valuable time sharing only feelings or uninformed opinions.
However, that is not the case with the NPI, which was designed based on facts and verifiable data. It is not about opinion or perception of peace. It is primarily focused on rating the peacefulness of states based on foundational indices of peace, which are verifiable and not tied to singular events. Upon my submission, we all agreed that such a fact-based index needed to be given more attention to improve the general state of peacefulness in the long-run. More importantly because, the NPI will help leaders at various arms of government come to term with fundamental issues needing proper attention to guarantee long term peace.
In conclusion, let me ask a question we can all ponder: How can media contribute to peace building and preventing conflict in Nigeria? To me, it is by giving voices to those who are advocating tolerance, peace building and understanding and promoting such other efforts geared towards strengthening the foundational indices of peace. Nigeria Peace Index (NPI) is one of such effort, and we all need to embrace it.