Nigeria has secured global attention as a result of the occurrence and recurrence of violent conflict in the country. In the northern region of the country, violent conflict spurs from the activities of non-state armed groups like Boko Haram, bandits, and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). On the other hand, violent conflict in southern Nigeria has its roots in farmers-herders clashes, militancy, and cultism.
As a result, the country is perpetually in a state of insecurity. The influence of the armed groups seems to be widening daily. To avoid the subversion of the government, thus, the need to promptly address this menace cannot be underestimated lest the country witness the Hobbesian anarchical state, where life is brutal, nasty, solitary and short.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to note that armed conflicts in Nigeria have imprinted an unwelcome signature on the country's socio-political and economic landscape which only time can erase. In other words, armed conflicts have adversely impacted the Nigerian state in many dimensions. The effect of armed conflict in Nigeria includes but is not limited to the following.
(1) Weakened Economy
Conflict in Africa tends to force internal and foreign investors to diversify their resources and investments to other countries with little or no security challenges. Particularly, the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria has resulted in both human and capital flight which has further dampened the country's economy. Furthermore, the armed conflict has lowered the Nigerian GDP per capita in the sense that it has reduced labour and total factor productivity through the termination of physical and human capital.
(2) Women and Children
Globally, women and children are recognised as the most vulnerable in armed conflict. Nigeria is not an exception as this category of people are also victims of violent conflicts in the country. For example, as of March 24, 2021, Amnesty International reported that Boko Haram fighters targeted women and girls with rape and other sexual violence, amounting to war crimes, during raids in northern Nigeria. Furthermore, a report from the United Nations Development Programme reveals that the northeast conflict has singlehandedly led to the death of 300,000 children.
(3) Internally Displaced Persons and Refugee Problem
Another major consequence of armed conflict is the internally displaced persons (IDPs) crisis and refugee problem. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that the armed conflict in Nigeria has led to the fleeing of two million people from their residences consequently, the majority of these persons are currently internally displaced while the rest have sought asylum in neighbouring countries.
(4) Increase in Mortality Rate
Armed conflicts in Nigeria have claimed several lives thereby increasing the general mortality rate in the country. Data by PNAS shows that between 2016 and 2019, 490,900 people died as a result of armed conflict in the northeast.
From the foregoing, it is evident that contemporary Nigeria is plagued with armed conflict and its adverse impact. Given the complexity of the conflict especially in the Northern region, a one-way approach may be insignificant in addressing the conflict. Hence, the Nigerian government and international community should employ a multifaceted approach to tackling this plague. This includes addressing the socio-political, economic and religious factors that trigger the conflict.