What happens when non-state actors have easy access to guns?

A constant feature in societies and individual existence is that in the few instances where Money might not be required to bring things to life, money is required to keep those things alive. Hence, the relevant economic details around a situation are usually a useful way to see how things are birthed, sustained and can be extinguished if warranted.

This should be kept in mind while studying the highly-rated SBM Intelligence report on Small Arms, Atrocities and Migration in Nigeria.

The report is rather sobering breakdown and forecast of the West African (and in particular the Nigerian) security situation. It’s a reveal of the fact that over 10,972,000 small arms are in the hands of non-state actors in Nigeria.

This scale of unregulated and undocumented gun-ownership is made worse by how dangerous even state-actors are prone to being with their legal weapon-ownership status.

The #EndSars massacres and the revelations from the Judicial Enquiries occasioned in response to the #EndSars protests gave some documented evidence on exactly how inappropriate the actions of state-sanctioned channels of violence are towards fellow Nigerians they are supposed to protect with the weapons bought with the taxes of citizens.

A lot has been said about the increase in the supply of weapons from sources in Libya, Asia, and other channels but an increase in supply doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in demand unless there was already latent demand for weapons that wasn’t activated due to market restrictions related to price and ease of purchase.

We must take note of the fact that the availability of weapons has not led to a significant change in the demand for guns in other West African states like Ghana, Togo, and the Benin Republic in the same way it has done in other nations like Niger, Chad, and Mali. This means that there are clear cultural, political, and socioeconomic markers that determine the different levels of demand for weapons in the West African space.

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There is a distinct corresponding link between the demand for guns and the extent to which a government or ruling class uses violence to communicate with its people or neighbours. It’s normal for people to invest in what gives them a more effective voice in communication with the government and ruling classes and in this instance type, this capacity for violence tends to also help offer a path to socioeconomic promotion which keeps investment in violence as a popular path for most poor people or even elite citizens looking for better leverage with their peers.

So it comes down to the basic law of supply that talks of a direct relationship between the price of a product and its supply that means that both Price and Supply move in the same direction.

The demand for violence from the political class and governments in some West African countries has brought about an increase in the supply of violence and its input factors and that is primarily responsible for the proliferation of small arms and accompanying rises in crime, unrest, and atrocities in these states.

The implication is that the surest way to restore peace and stability is for the governments and ruling classes in affected countries to commit to NOT rewarding violence and focus instead on rewarding technical excellence and activity that helps improve the lives of a majority of society.

Nigeria would do well with starting by refusing to accept the attempts by Sheikh Gumi and some governors to whitewash the terrorists now seeking a payoff in reward for their pointless campaign of mass-murder and kidnapping.

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The inclination to corruption exists in all humans. The state of the developed countries doesn’t come from a congenitally-sourced purity and intelligence in other races and cultures. What happened was that the ruling classes at some point looked at the clear direction of the trajectory their societies were on due to the inadequacy of their methods and accepted the need for a change that would keep them alive, wealthy albeit with reduced influence and visibility.

The emotional immaturity of the African ruling class and elder has long delayed their inevitable arrival at this decision and it would be sad but unsurprising if they allowed a total breakdown of law and order to be what forced their hand.

Somalia has shown the cost of this path to even other countries and continents with its refugee and piracy issues that came out of the collapse of the country into fiefdoms controlled by warlords.


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