Data shows Nigeria recorded an overall improvement in security in 2023, but some states more than others.
The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) Project has collected data on incidents of political violence in Nigeria from 1997 to date — currently, up to Dec. 8, 2023. This includes information on violence against civilians, armed clashes, riots, protests, and explosions. HumAngle extracted figures from this database for incidents between Jan. 1 and Dec. 8 for both 2022 and 2023 to see how the country has fared compared to last year.
There are several ways to look at the numbers. But our analysis showed that security improved in 22 of Nigeria’s 37 states (including the Federal Capital Territory) — whether we use the number of violent incidents or the rate of fatalities as the metric. Seventeen states recorded improvements under both indices.
When we consider the difference in death tolls, we can see that the states that recorded the most significant improvements are Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, and Kebbi.
Other places where security improved from a reduction in fatalities include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Meanwhile, the worst-performing states are Sokoto, Yobe, Benue, Borno, Nasarawa, Rivers, and Bauchi.
If we group the states into their various geopolitical zones, we also see that four of the six zones recorded a fall in both the number of violent incidents and fatalities. Those were the North West, North Central, South East, and South West.
The South South recorded a slight reduction in fatalities but an increase in violent events (no thanks to the situation in Bayelsa, Cross River, and Rivers states), while the North East worsened in both scenarios (mostly due to events in Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe).
One notable place where improved security has been recorded is the 155-kilometre-long Abuja-Kaduna highway. Travellers along the road used to be — quite often — victims of kidnap-for-ransom operations, forcing many to travel using the train or by air. A HumAngle reporter who plied the route in 2020 described the experience as “three hours of uncertainty and anxiety”. Last year, authorities explained that the rehabilitation of the road had to be suspended owing to security threats.
But the situation has now improved. Traffic has increased, and roadside businesses are faring better, according to locals.
“We have taken steps to ensure that crime is reduced to the barest minimum to ensure security. We are taking the necessary steps to get rid of criminal elements terrorising motorists along the Abuja-Kaduna road, and very soon, Nigerians will see the difference,” Nigeria’s police chief Kayode Egbetokun, who was appointed this year, assured in August.
He explained that the force was setting up a Special Intervention Squad for this purpose.
Officers of the Nigerian Army under Operation Thunder Strike have also intensified efforts to restore security to the expressway and surrounding areas.
Nigeria has faced a multidimensional problem of insecurity for many years, ranging from jihadist insurgency in the northeastern region to terrorism and armed clashes in the North West and North Central. Attacks by violent separatist groups have also destabilised a great number of communities in the South East since 2021. Kidnappings, intercommunal clashes, and farmer-herder conflicts are also rife across the country.
President Bola Tinubu, who came to power this year, has promised to tackle these challenges. Statements from senior government officials indicate that the administration is focusing on inter-agency cooperation, building effective security institutions, investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure, and encouraging peacebuilding efforts.
In July, Tinubu credited “positive results” seen in the fight against insecurity to the commitment and collaboration of the armed forces.
The federal government plans to spend $4 billion on defence and security next year, constituting 12 per cent of the total budget and a significant increase compared to the previous budget. Security analysts have, however, observed that for the allocation to yield tangible benefits, the government needs to do more to ensure accountability.
The record under Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, was not flattering. HumAngle’s analysis of data gathered by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) showed that an average of 22 people died every day in his eight years of office, with the security situation increasingly getting worse.
At one point, Buhari infamously said the government was doing its best to tackle the security challenges and that the country could do well to turn to God for divine intervention.
Click here to view the detailed data analysis.
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