By Mutiu Iyanda
In the last few days, rape and Ruga have been trending in Nigeria. They remain two issues that have polarized Nigerians along ethnicity and religion lines. At the same time unite Nigerians who believe that the two issues are threats to the female citizens and security across the country. Rape is not a strange crime in Nigeria. The country has been repeatedly ranked as one of the countries with the highest number of rape cases. It has also been ranked as one of the countries with the high level of insecurity due to the incessant terrorist attacks, and herdsmen and farmers crisis.
The idea of Ruga, planned annexation of land in states for cattle colonies, is to end the crisis between herdsmen and farmers, according to the Federal Government. From the southern region to the western region, it has appeared that the government’s position is not tenable, especially in states where the crisis has resulted in loss of lives and property. Groups in the two regions have alleged that the government is shopping for lands on behalf of the herdsmen, which could further heighten the insecurity in the country.
On the two issues, Nigerians are expressing their feelings and accusing the key actors. The Presidency and state governors in the southern and western regions have been under severe criticism, while Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and Bukola Dakolo have not been spared from various lashes. As the criticism continues, analysis indicates that Nigerians are making sense of the issues through the Internet with a view of receiving information capable of reevaluating their previous knowledge towards informed discussions.
Making Sense of Ruga and Rape
On Sunday 30th June 2019, analysis shows that Nigerians sought information about the two issues using YouTube, image and news sections on the Google Search Engine. Within 24 hours, rape was searched most using the two sections than Ruga. From the result, it is obvious that Nigerians did not have much interest in Ruga. They deployed their resources towards understanding issues around the alleged rape case. This could be linked to the protests which were held in Lagos and Abuja. The more they used YouTube, image and news sections on Google Search Engine, the less they employed the sections for understanding the proposed Ruga settlements across the country, analysis reveals. One percent of using the three sections diminished the use of the sections for Ruga by 62.4%.
Source: Google Trends, Infoprations Analysis, 2019
Throughout the hours, Nigerians developed interest about Bukola rape, Coza Pastor rape among other top searches than Ruga’s top searches such as Ruga meaning and Ruga in Nigeria. The top searches for the rape issues were mostly from Rivers, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Lagos states and Abuja. For the Ruga, people in these states and FCT in addition to Abia, Benue, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu and Imo states had an interest in the top searches. It is understandable that people in these locations sought information about the two issues. These states have recorded a significant number of rape cases. They also have been experiencing a series of herdsmen attacks since 2016. In 2016, Lagos state recorded 162 rape cases. Four years before, report indicates that more than 1,200 girls were allegedly raped in Rivers State. Three years later, governmental official said “not less than 10” girls are raped everyday in the state.
What is missing?
The two issues revolve on transparency and legal rights. From the public criticism trailing the proposed Ruga settlements, it is clear that governments and people of the southern and western regions expect transparency in the programme. As long as cattle rearing are peculiar to the northern region, annexation of lands should also be restricted to the region. To the protesters and public activists, the rape victims must get justice. However, Nigeria’s poor ranking for transparency of government policymaking in the last 4 years is likely to prevent the transparency in the proposed Ruga settlements some groups and states are craving for. According to the Global Competitiveness Index, a yearly publication of the World Economic Forum, between 2015 and 2018, Nigeria’s average rank was 116.5 for the transparency of government policymaking, while a legal right was 32.75.
When these were analysed along with the top searches for rape and Ruga, the results indicate that the Ruga’s top searches connected with transparency of government policymaking by 70%. This confirms the earlier position that people and groups want the Federal government to be fair to every region on the Ruga settlements. Analysis further reinforces the position with one percent interest in Ruga’s top searches decreases transparency of government policymaking by 56%. This suggests that the Federal Government cannot avoid fairness principle, while addressing the issues on the programme. The story is quite different from the rape issue. The first analysis establishes that rape’s top searches and legal rights connected negatively (-83.9%), signifying a higher interest in the searches than the legal rights. However, there is hope for the victims as the second analysis reveals that one percent interest in rape top searches increases legal rights by 51.1%. This suggests that as the public continues expressing their feelings on rape cases, it is likely to lead to prosecution of the offenders.
Source: Google Trends, Infoprations Analysis, 2019