The 2017 report on terrorist related deaths the world over, just released by the Global Terrorism Index, published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has strung a silver linen on the cloud of the many challenges facing the country but most especially in the fight against terrorism.
Since 2008, when activities of insurgents began to manifest in many forms across the country and started taking tolls on the populace, Nigeria has crept from a near terror- free nation to being listed among the worst hit and found itself in the unenviable company of globally acclaimed terrorist nations like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The situation worsened by 2014 when parts of the country were captured by the terrorists, symbols of sovereignty removed aAnd many were killed and displaced from their homes.
It became a matter of serious concern when the then government appeared helpless and the armed forces in Nigeria began to lose respect due to its poor handling of the situation.
That was when the Nigerian military was lampooned for deploying technical manouvre as a military strategy and had to wait for the coalition from neighboring African countries to serve as a morale booster.
Then president, Goodluck Jonathan in a whiff of exasperation even confirmed such helplessness when he said it was Nigeria’s turn to experience terrorism which he said has become a global phenomenon that the country has to live with.
That was when apart from capturing territories, the insurgents went to schools and slaughtered students at will and abducted many which they use as sex slaves.
It wasn’t better with the authorities that were supposed to fight the scourge as monies voted for such purposes were either stolen or diverted and many soldiers out of frustration deserted and quit service.
But by 2015, things began to take a new shape in the fight against terrorism as the current administration of Presidemt Muhammad Buhari overhauled the strategy and brought committed and battle tested generals on board.
The new government was so confident about defeating terrorism in the North-eastern part of the country that it even gave deadlines for achieving such feats and in no time obliterated the capacity of the insurgents to move in large numbers and threaten communities and confined them to insignificant crevices from where they from time to time make attempts at soft targets.
That they have been degraded and mortally weakened was not in doubt as people who have been sacked in the various communities began to move back to reclaim their homes.
This in a nutshell is what is reflected in the Global Terrorism Index report which confirms the strides made by Nigeria to defeat terrorism and return life to normalcy for its citizens.
But most importantly, the index which provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism since 2000 has shown the strides made by Nigeria in the fight against terrorism in the last two years.
As the Institute for Economics and Peaceful ranks nations of the world according to terrorist activities ‘by combining a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build an explicit picture of the impact of terrorism, illustrating trends, and providing a data series for analysis by researchers and policymakers,’ the report can be considered as the most authoritative on the subject.
The GTI officially covers 163 countries, covering 99.7% of the world’s population. And the aim of the report is to examine trends and to help inform a positive and practical debate about the future of terrorism and the required policy responses.
The report, which is officially launched at the Royal United Services Institute in London today, is a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 17 years which helps to understand the global, regional and local impact of terrorism.
The 2017 report indicates that the number of terror related deaths around the world fell for a second year in 2016, revealing that for the second year in a row, the total number of global deaths caused by terrorism has declined.
The report however indicates that despite the decline in number of deaths, terrorism continues to spread to an increasing number of countries indicating that there are 77 countries that experienced at least one death from terrorism in 2016 more than at any time in the past 17 years.
It is against this background that the stride made by Nigeria under President Buhari can be fully appreciated. According to the GTI report, the world in 2017 has recorded a 22 percent drop in number of terrorism related deaths since the peak of global terror activities in 2014.
Worthy of note is the observation that the percentage decrease in terrorism- related deaths is due partly to significant declines in terrorism in four of the five countries most impacted by terrorism which are Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
The report says collectively, the four countries recorded 33 per cent fewer deaths and 2017 and the significance of this development cannot be ignored. What it means is that the Buhari administration is on the right track towards defeating terrorism in Nigeria and contributing to the degradation of the menace on a global scale.
It therefore goes without saying that the president, the service chiefs and the troops must be encouraged to continue the good work they are doing to rid the world of terrorism and other crime against humanity.
Ugo, a conflict resolution expert, wrote this piece from London, UK