Mitigating Nigeria’s Human Freedom Deficit

In the recently published 2021 Human Freedom Index (HFI) authored by experts at the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute, Nigeria placed 123rd among 165 countries and territories ranked in the study. One relatable consequence of this poor placement is that an individual is more likely to experience police brutality and other state repressions in Nigeria than in Uganda, Niger, or Haiti, all ranked higher than Nigeria. But Nigeria is the architect of its embarrassment. The deplorable state of press freedom, the brutal killings precipitated by religious extremism and inter-ethnic violence, and the continued invasion of private farmlands by Fulani herders, are some of the problems eroding human freedom. Unfortunately, Nigeria could keep sliding more deeply into the category of ‘unsafe places’ through the next few years, should specific institutional changes remain elusive.

Indeed, the average Nigerian may not see why this report demands serious attention. After all, it doesn’t explain why the country’s economy is in such a bad state and offers no remedy in that regard. But I’d like to suggest to such readers that the HFI is as indicative of the country’s economic situation as any other economy-focused study. Apart from many of the security and legal problems identified in the report having direct links to the economic strengths or collapse of affected individuals and communities, it is also the case that the best-placed countries in the HFI are the most economically prosperous….

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