from Africa in Transition

The World Development Report and Nigeria

April 12, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Wars and Conflict

Commuters and traders crowd at a market in Nigeria's main commercial city Lagos, March 19, 2006. (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters)

The World Bank has released its 2011 World Development Report. The wide ranging analysis covers numerous conflicts and serves as an important resource for policy makers, academics, and development professionals. The report also contains a helpful data visualization tool, which allows users to plot 49 different indicators with figures from1960 to 2009.

With respect to Nigeria, at least, the report demonstrates an important level of granularity. For example, it discusses the Bakassi Boys---a decentralized vigilante/criminal group that has been detrimental to public security in urban areas and especially in Lagos, one of Africa’s largest cities. In only a few succinct paragraphs, the World Bank report describes the drawbacks of nonstate actors like the Bakassi Boys: although they may have some popular support, they fail to strengthen the rule of law, avoid predatory tactics, or demobilize. In 2006, George Packer wrote a fascinating article on Lagos that describes the Bakassi Boys. Although I often discuss sectarian, political, and religious violence in Nigeria, the World Bank report is right to highlight the Bakassi Boys. They and other vigilante groups are also an important source of instability in Nigeria and should be included in any discussion of Nigerian national security.

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