Nigeria has been ranked 118th out of 165 countries in the 2023 Human Freedom Index, released in December 2023. In the annual report co-authored by the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute, Nigeria moved up 3 places from its 121st position in 2022. This marginal improvement in ranking is coming despite a decline in personal freedom across the country.
Cases of kidnapping, homicide, violent conflicts, and police abuse continue to dominate the news as Nigeria struggles to restore confidence in the rule of law. Credible reports of serious human freedom violations in Nigeria include unlawful detention or arrest; inhuman treatment by the government; enforced disappearances or abductions; and serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats against journalists. It is imperative that the government commit to protecting the fundamental freedoms of its people while ensuring that market-oriented policies are prioritized.
According to the report, a sharp decline in human freedom followed the coronavirus pandemic. The 2023 Human Freedom Index comprises 165 jurisdictions, representing 98.8% of the global population, and its average rating for human freedom decreased from 6.99 in the 2022 index to 6.75 in 2023 on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom. Most freedoms were significantly undermined, including the rule of law, speech, association, assembly, and movement.
Switzerland, New Zealand, and Denmark hold the first three positions, respectively. None of the African countries made it to the top ten, while there are three African countries (Somalia, Egypt, and Sudan) among the 10 low-ranking countries.
In conclusion, the protection of lives and properties should be a top priority for the Nigerian government at all levels, as no investor can be inclined to bring money into an unsafe or unpredictable environment.