The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has revealed that the rate of kidnapping across Nigeria has increased by 169 per cent in two years.
In a report posted on its website titled: “Six Alternative Ways to Measure Peace in Nigeria”, which is part of its ongoing research to understand how Nigeria measures peace, USIP stated that when measured by death toll, Nigeria seems beset by violence.
USIP’s team went in search of how people in Bauchi, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau states define peace and found out that respondents understand peace as being more than the absence of violence and insecurity.
The research discovered that there is substantial evidence that violence in Nigeria is highly gendered and women value the absence of violence and insecurity as an indicator of peace more than men.
The Institute attributed the increasing rate of insecurity to poor performance of security agencies which it says has caused Nigerians to resort to selfhelp by setting up vigilante groups without minding the disadvantages.
“When measured by the death toll, Nigeria seems beset by violence. By some accounts, the COVID-19 pandemic has made experiences of violence even more common — notably, Nigeria recorded a 169 per cent increase in abductions between 2019 and 2020.
“We went in search of how people in the states of Bauchi, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau define peace and we found out that respondents understand peace as being more than the absence of violence and insecurity. While many respondents equate peace with the absence of direct violence and insecurity — adopting a classical definition of “negative peace” — this is by no means their only understanding of peace. For example, more than 70 per cent of survey respondents in Kaduna State felt that peace meant having “good relations with my neighbors and/or in the community.”
“In Plateau State, nearly 80 per cent of respondents agreed that peace meant the presence of “good relations between different ethnic or religious communities.”
In addition to these definitions, majorities or near majorities in all four states also agreed that peace meant “harmony in the family.
“The absence of violence and insecurity is consistently more important for women than men. There is already substantial evidence that violence in Nigeria is highly gendered. Our research finds that women value the absence of violence and insecurity as an indicator of peace more than men. In Kaduna state, for example, 75 per cent of female respondents answered that the absence of violence and insecurity was the “most important” meaning of peace, versus only 65 per cent of male respondents. In Plateau, 67 per cent of female respondents gave the same answer, versus only 56 per cent of male respondents. While the gap in Nasarawa was narrower, it was still present — 60 per cent of female respondents felt the absence of violence and insecurity was the “most important” meaning of peace, versus 55 per cent of male respondents.
“The freedom to practice religion and the ability of people from different religions to socialize together are among the most important indicators of peace.
“In-person interviews identified more than 50 possible indicators of peace among the study’s communities. These indicators were then ranked by survey respondents. Among these, indicators related to religious practice were among the highest ranked by respondents. When asked which are the most important indicators of peace to you, in the community in which you live, nearly nine in 10 respondents (89 per cent in Bauchi, 87 per cent in both Kaduna and Plateau, 85 per cent in Nasarawa) ranked the “freedom to practice my religion and/or conduct religious activities” as a “most important” indicator of peace.
“Our research finds a correlation between those who have had difficulty in getting police assistance and perceptions of police presence being associated with insecurity, even if their interaction with the police was unrelated to insecurity. Of respondents indicating that they had requested assistance from the police in the past 12 months, 64 per cent of those who rated their experience of getting police assistance as “difficult” or “very difficult” felt that the visible presence of the police meant that there was insecurity, versus only 21 per cent of such respondents who felt security was good when the police were visible. This echoes earlier survey research that showed that victims of insecurity were less trusting of state institutions.
“There is strong support for vigilante groups. While many observers have concerns about the accountability and discipline of these vigilantes, and there is limited oversight over their activities, Nigerians who participated in this research express strong support for vigilante groups. More than eight in 10 respondents in all the surveyed states agreed that “vigilantes make a positive contribution to security in Nigeria.”
“Fewer than one in 10 respondents agreed that “vigilantes make a negative contribution to security in Nigeria.” The poor performance of the state’s security actors has sent Nigerians, across all states and genders, to look for alternatives such as vigilantes, despite the drawbacks,” the report stated.