President Muhammadu Buhari


Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, beset by terrorism and other security challenges, currently ranks 14 in the global list of fragile states, formally known as failed states index, compiled by the United States think tank, Fund for Peace.

In the 2020 edition of the list, Nigeria improved slightly by 1.2 points to 97.3 from 2019 to rank 14th behind Cameroon, Burundi and Haiti in the “Alert” category, which is the third worst category after “Very High Alert” and “High Alert”.

Countries in the High Alert category include Yemen, which in number one in the list of Fragile states, followed by Somalia, South Sudan and Syria in that order. These are the four countries appearing in this category.

The High Alert category has such countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, while the Alert category has Cameroon, Burundi, Haiti, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Iraq, Eritrea, Niger and Libya in that order.

Other countries in the category include Ethiopia, Myanmar, Guinea Bissau, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Mozambique, Venezuela, Kenya, North Korea and Liberia.

The next category, the High Warning category has Cote d’Ivore, Mauritania, Angola, Egypt among other nations.

A fragile state, according to the Fund, “has several attributes. Common indicators include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.”

Since 2005, the index has been published annually by the Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy. The list has been cited by journalists and academics in making broad comparative points about countries or regions.

The report uses 12 factors to determine the rating for each nation, including security threats, economic implosion, human rights violations and refugee flows.

The following factors are used by Fund For Peace to ascertain the status of a country.


Mounting demographic pressures and tribal, ethnic and/or religious conflicts; Massive internal and external displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies; Widespread vengeance-seeking group grievances and Chronic and sustained human flight.

Widespread corruption, High economic inequality, Uneven economic development along group lines and Severe economic decline.

Delegitimization of the state, Deterioration of public services, Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses, Security forces operating as a “state within a state” often with impunity, Rise of factionalized elites and Intervention of external political agents and foreign states.