Monday, May 20, 2013


Just this morning, hundreds of people have started fleeing the northern Nigeria state of Borno to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Mali. Apparently, the government of Nigeria just announced a state of emergencyin 3 states - Yobe, Adamawa and Borno, where the popular terrorist group – Boko Haram resides. Niger, Chad and Mali seem to be a big suspect. How? – Niger has a awful 81.8% of her population in severe poverty; Northern Mali is still struggling with war, and also has 68.4% of her population in poverty; the story of the later – Chad has been disturbing in recent times, with the shrinking of her only resource – the lake, perhaps due to climate change.

These are all fragile states, which are also a reflective of low income countries. The average gross national income per capital of the 16 West African states is at $908.75. That’s quite disturbing! The highest in this region is Cape Verde with about $3,540. Singapore and Malaysia both have $42,930 and $8,770 respectively. ( Scroll over map below to view indicators of fragility in West African countries) 

Nigeria, where 52% of the about 312 million people living in West Africa reside was ranked 14 out of 117 countries on the 2012Fund for Peace failed states index. Her demise remains peculiar owing to its size and population. While her GDP has become one of the fastest growing in the Sub Saharan, it is been threatened by insecurity. The Boko Haram sect based in northern Nigeria has killed about 1,854 people in 2 years

More than ever, the time bomb seems dangling on the giant that looks over the West African state. The challenges of insecurity, lack of social services, job creation and accountability in government cannot be over emphasized. In Nigeria and other West African countries, about 48.3% still live in poverty. Paul Collier, a professor of economics at Oxford University referred to them as the “Bottom Billion” in 2008 and proffered some solutions. It’s quite unfortunate that the same challenges still exist, with the same set of people at the leadership.
(View Paul Collier TEDx Talk below) 

One may have taught, as the post – 2015 deliberations set in, wouldn't it be pertinent to add good governance to one of the sustainable development goals? If government cannot provide basic services (roads, good education, health centres  to her citizens, fragile states resorts, thus demining the prospect for development. However, the way out of these environments is a very limited, much focused package because the capacity for change in these societies is very limited.

Often the government is not able to do very much, and people have no self belief in their society. Where will the solutions come from? It should come from the indigenes, perhaps with little support from external stakeholders.