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POVERTY AND YOUTH RESTIVENESS IN NIGERIA: A STUDY OF THE BOKO HARAM CRISIS


Project topic for English department

CHAPTER ONE:

  • Introduction

It is not clear when Boko Haram came into being. A common account of the group’s origin traces it to 2002, when Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic preacher, because its leaders. To Nigeria’s intelligence community, however, its true historical roots hark back to 1995 when Abubakar Lawan established the Ahlulsunna Wal Jamaah Hijra,r Shabaab group (Muslim youth organization), in Maiduguri, Borno State.

This is an extremist sect in Nigeria that has caused divesting damage in Northern Nigeria and threatens the stability of Nigeria as a whole. It is true to say the activities of the Boko Haram have become a serious national, regional and international concern brought into the nation in particular and the world in general, poverty and youth restiveness. Therefore, it is on this bases that the researcher intends to carry out his study.

  • Background to the Study
  • The Boko Haram crisis which is the major concern of the research as the name denoted, does not have one particular meaning. The name more or less connotes different meanings to different people. The group is a Nigerian Islamic group that seeks the imposition of Shariah, belief (Shariah Law) throughout the country.1
  • Figuratively, members of this group believe that “Western Education is a sin”. Presently, the group has an undefined structure and chain of command. It is of a paramount importance to note that the official name of the group is “Jama” Atu Ablis Sunna Liddda “wah wal-jihad”, which means or rather is tantamount to people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teaching and Jihad.
  • Since its formation in 2002 in Maiduguri by the leader of the group Mohammad Yusuf, the Boko Haram has been a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria’s security agencies, precisely the police force, over its opposition to Western Education that it believes is a sin.2 The targeted area of concern is the North Eastern part of Nigeria which the research work will critically analyse the three concepts i.e. poverty, youth restiveness and Boko Haram in order to create a better understanding in the minds of the readers and more so to contribute to existing knowledge of literature.
  • Statement of the Problem
  • It is no longer news that the activities of the Boko Haram and other similar politically religious sects have often led to loss of property, lives and even the breakdown of law and orders, peace and security in the Nigerian society at large. From the forgoing, it has been observed that a lot of attacks have been made on so many states which includes even the state capital (FCT).3
  • The concern of the researcher is that most of these attacks appears not be executed by suicide bombers, yet the culprits often get away unharmed. These attacks as observed by the research are carried out in such a manner that lives and properties are destroyed.
  • It is in a bid to eradicate these incessant chaos and destruction which has often led to loss of assets and lives that the research pose a far research questions in a view of obtaining reasonable and positive answers. These questions are as follows;
  • What is the relationship between poverty and youth restiveness in Nigeria?
  • Does the Boko Haram crisis pose a threat to the development of the Nigeria’s corporate existence?
  • What relationship has Boko Haram movement with poverty and youth restiveness in Nigeria?
  • Is military option the way forward for tackling the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria?
  • Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim thrust of this study is to establish the following objectives;

  • To ascertain the relationship between poverty and youth restiveness in Nigeria
  • To find out if Boko Haram crisis poses a threat to development of the country’s corporate existence.
  • To find out if Boko Haram has any relationship with poverty and youth restiveness in Nigeria.
  •  To explore whether military option is the only way forward in tackling the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria.
  •   Scope and Limitation of the Study
  • The study is centered on Boko Haram, Poverty and youth restiveness with specific reference to what has been happening in the North Eastern part of the country.
  • The study covers North Eastern region, which comprises of six states and specific consideration to her history, geographic settings of the North Eastern part of the country – Nigeria.
  • Significance of the Study
  • This study will definitely come in as an addition to already existing literature of poverty and youth restiveness and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Its importance lies in the fact that it is currently a prevailing issue and it is very topical.
  • More so, it will act as a guide to the government in their quest to tackle problems associated with poverty, youth restiveness and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
  • Review of Related Literature
  • “No man is an Island”. This is a popular adage of all time. A research work will not be complete if other writers’ works are not looked into, reviewed and appreciated.
  • Ode (2015) avers that Nigeria has been gripped with threats of terrorism and general insecurity which many believed are direct consequences of bad leadership, poverty unemployment widespread illiteracy and entrance deprivation. These ills provided the impetus for the anger that breeds religious extremism and terrorism. The emergence of Boko Haram and its attendant security challenges are therefore, the direct product of state failure in its responsibility to be sensitive to the plight and predicaments of the citizenry.
  • It has been alleged in some quarters that Northern political, traditional and religious leaders were behind Boko Haram activities in pursuance of an agenda for the promotion of Northern domination and the supremacy of the Muslim religion in the affairs of the Nigerian States (Ode, 2015). In these regard, the researcher observed that for the agenda of these politicians, traditional and religion leaders to be carried out, the poor, frustrated, dejected angry youths were considered the only way out.4
  • According to the above assertion, agreeing with Odo, Haruma (2011) argued that Boko Haram was the creation of bitter politics, which predated President Jonathan’s presidency dating back to about 2002. During most of that time, the group had remained docile but turned violent following the military’s attack on its headquarters in July, 2009. The attack, which was ordered by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was presumed to have wiped-out the sect until it returned about a year later with deadly attacks under Abukakar Shekau who was until the dead of Muhammad Yusuf, the deputy leader of the group.
  • Riding on the crest of such sentiment above, Haruma (2013) further argued that it was absurd for anyone to think that a sect, whose cried was widely regarded as heretic by the mainstream religious and secular leaders in the North will be their choice for advancing their religious or political interest. It is also argued that from the attempts on the lives of some prominent traditional rulers in the North like the Shehu of Borno, the Emir of Kano and from the number of Muslims and their clinics killed or attacked by Boko Haram, that even if anyone in the North ever sponsored the sect, the purported sponsor have since lost control over it.
  • The perennial ethnic and sectarian disturbances in Northern Nigeria, such as Sokoto Jihad; Tiv riot; maintasine riot; Zango-Kataff riot; Taraba communal crisis; among others had created a fertile ground for Boko Haram. Also, bade leadership and corruption have provided a rallying cry for Boko Haram. According to Haruma Rights Watch Report (2012), which quoted an interview with Muhammed Yusuf – Boko Haram first leader:
  • “Corruption became the catalyst for Boko Haram … would have found it difficult to gain a lot of these people if he was operating in a functional state. But his teaching was easily accepted because the environment, the frustrations, the corruption and injustice made it fertile for his ideology to grow fast, very fast, like wildfire.”5
  • Agreeing with the above statement, Odo (2015) assert that the group had continued to emphasize on poverty, corruption and injustice on the poor masses as the motivating factors for their desire to institutionalize Islamic government based on the principles of Sharia, which they saw as anti-dote to corruption and lack, of basic social services such as healthcare, education, water, electricity, good housing, roads, among others for the ordinary citizens.
  • As the Human Rights Watch Report (2012) noted, while professing to oppose corruption, Boko Haram has at times openly exploited it to advance its cause. For example, the Report observed that Boko Haram claimed that it succeeded in carrying out a car bomb attack on the UN office in Abuja, in August, 2011 by bribing government security personnel at check points along 800kms route from Maiduguri to Abuja. According to Boko Haram’s spokesman quoted in the Report cited in Odo “Luckily for us, security agents were not out to work diligently but to find money for themselves and N20.00 or N50.00 that was politely given to them gave us a pass.”6
  • Beside corruption, the prevalent abject poverty and deprivation was another condition Boko Haram fully exploited to its advantage. Nearly 100 million Nigerians lives on less than one US Dollar a day. In January, 2012, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics released a report showing that the percentage of Nigerians living in absolute poverty had increased nationwide from 55% between 2004 and 2010 (NNBS Report, 2012).
  • Poverty is unevenly distributed in Nigeria with the North being the worst off. The National Bureau of Statistics Report (2012) showed that 70% of Nigerians in the North Eastern part of the country (Boko Haram’s traditional stronghold) lives on less than one US Dollar a day compared to 50 and 59% in the South Western and South Eastern Nigeria respectively. Also, government’s demographic and health survey in 2008 cited in Human Right Watch Report (2012) revealed that less than 23% of women and 54% of men in the North East Nigerian could read and write compared to more than 79% of women and 90% of men in the South.7 Furthermore, chronic malnutrition among children is also more prevalent in Northern Nigeria than in the South. Infrastructural development also lags behind in the North. In the North East that is the researcher’s area of concern, only 24% of households have access to electricity compared with 71% of households in the South West (Wakili, 2013). Frustrated Unemployed youths, lack of economic opportunities and wealth inequalities are sources of deep frustration across the country, especially in many parts of the North.
  • Boko Haram has thus, exploited Nigeria’s history of ethnic and sectarian strife along with conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation, pervasive corruption at all levels of government, unemployment and social injustice as justification for its violent campaign. The Boko Haram sect believed that the infiltration of America and European cultures into Nigeria has a corrupting influence on the country’s governance, hence their anti-west and America. All these have informed the desire of the group to establish an Islamic State of Nigeria based on Sharia. In fact, the emergence of Boko Haram reflects the long festering extremist impulses that reign deep in the social reality of Northern Nigeria.
  • According to Johnson (2011) cited in Odo, despite per capital income of more than $2,700 and annual GDP growth of 7%, Nigeria has one of the world’s poorest populations. He further asserts that in the North, 72% in the South. Indeed, most of the apparent ethnic and religious crises in the North, and the youth restiveness and criminality in the South can be linked to increasing economic inequality.9 According to Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai in Johnson (2012) in Odo, “an analysis of public investments in infrastructure and human capital in the North Eastern Nigeria would explain why the region is not only home to flawed elections and economic hopelessness but Boko Haram insurgency as well”.10
  •     Placed side-by-side the review above, the researcher opine that; given the level of unemployment in the North, abject the generality of Northerners fear that their political influence in the country was fast waning. Also, many Northern Muslims, especially, in the opposition parties viewed the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, as illegitimate, arguing that he ignored an informal power-rotation agreement that should have kept a Muslim –Northerner as president.
  • The Northern Muslims’ anxiety over Southern Christians’ control of the economy as well as the political power with the election of President Goodluck Jonathan (Christian) fueled the post – 2011 election crisis and the rise of Muslim fundamentalism (Odo, 2013).11 These developments, which further alienated the Muslim North, played a significant role in the spread of Boko Haram sect in the region.
  • As the most active segment of any society, youths are the major determiners of peace and stability of a nation (The National Development Policy, 2011:1),12 cited in Abdul-latect, A.O et’al (2015). Conversely, the degree of disorderliness and instability in the society is also determined in part by the youths. Peace is precursor to development. The absence of peace means no meaningful development can take place. The National Youth Policy (2001) cited in Abdul-latect, A.O et’al (2015) affirm that the extent of the youth “responsible conduct and roles in societies is positively correlated with the development of their country”.13 By these, it therefore means that poverty and youth restiveness has a very vital role in under development of any society.
  • Hence, the concept of poverty has assumed not only local but global trend resulting in many countries administering numerous policies in a bid to curb this menace. Haralamba & Holborn (2000) assert that poverty is a situation where a person is unable to acquire the minimum necessities that make for wellbeing.14
  • Conceptual Clarification
  • The key concepts defined in this work are poverty, youth restiveness and Boko Haram.
  • Youth: is generally the period of life between childhood and adulthood (maturity). Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual’s actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age as immature individuals can exist at all ages.15 Youth is also defined as the appearance, freshness, vigour, spirit etc, characteristic of one who is young.
  •             The United Nations, for statistical purposes cited in defining “Youth” as those between the ages of 15 to 24 years, without prejudice to member states (definition of youth).16 According to Aedgun and Akomolafe (2019) cited in Abdul-latect, youth simply refers to a young person between childhood and adult age. It is a transition period between adolescent and adulthood (Adegun & Akomolafe, 2013) in Abdul Latct.17
  •             According to UNESCO in Abdul-latect, youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness at our interdependence as members of a community.18
  • Restiveness: it has been defined as the act of being unable to stay still, or unwillingness to be controlled, especially because you feel bored or not satisfied with something (Patrick, Arisi & Osah, 2013). It has also been described as “a sustained protestation embarked upon to enforce desired outcome from a constituted authority by an organized body of youth”.19 It is marked by violence and disruption of lawful activities.
  •             Therefore, youth restiveness is the extreme form of deviant behavior among youth which is socially unacceptable in any society. Youth restiveness involves the combination of actions behaviours attitudes exhibited by youths which are socially unacceptable and unwholesome in the society (Igbo & Ikpa, 2013) in Yusuf (2014).20 According to them, youth restiveness has been a device through which youth use to obtain what they want from the relevant authority. Similarly, Elegbeleye (2005) in Abdul-Latect view it from the angle as a “sustain protestation embarked upon to enforce desire outcome from a constituted authority by organized body of youths. It is accompanied by disruption of law and violence”.21
  • Poverty: Nelson Mandela came out of retirement in February, 2003 to speak on behalf of the ‘make poverty history’ campaign in London an effort to renew the global commitment to eliminating poverty is not natural. Mandela intoned. “It is man-made.” 22
  •             Governments around the world have found it useful to define and measure poverty in ways that reflect their own circumstances and aspirations by Nigeria context, the concept of poverty is a living condition in which individuals fails to achieve a minimum standard of living as described by Wenger (2007) in Ojua. 23 Haralambus Holborn (2000) asserts that poverty is a situation where a person is unable to acquire the minimum necessities that make for wellbeing. Poverty is marked by the inability to get good livelihood, have good house to live in support ourselves without depending on others, inability to acquired good healthcare, good educational training etc.24
  • Boko Haram: Copeland (2013) cited in Odo (2014) Boko Haram  colloquially means “Western education is sin”. The group is an extremist Islamic sect poised to create an Islamic state in Nigeria based on Sharia law.25 It is a terrorist group that opposed the Nigerian secular state referring to it as corrupt and unislamic.26
  •             The Boko Haram sect is a group that dreamt of a new society devoid of corruption and whose sole purpose was to remain close to Allah (God). According to Walker (2012) to the group, the main stream of Nigerian society had been polluted by Western values, which in their opinion was a deviation from the principles of Sharia.27
  •             Boko Haram has been described as a movement of grass root anger among Northern masses at the continued deprivation and extreme poverty in the region. The vision of the sect bordered on creating a state anchored on Sharia law, which would replace the secular state of Nigeria.28
  • According to Sule Abubakar, in an interview referred to the group as a group of bandits, uncivilized sect that is claiming what is outside the Islamic education. To him, he explains further that if the group is pointing fingers at Western life then what is the meaning of using phones, arms and other gargets in carrying out their operations.29 They are simply bandits.   
  • Research Methodology
  • This research work is relatively new so not much written materials were gotten to aid the research to bring out a comprehensive work. However, the researcher was able to get little from personal memories, government documents, news papers, journals, pamphlets, research works and works that were retrieved from the internet.
  • Other relevant information were gotten from oral interviews. This involved people who were dispersed as the result of the Boko Haram crisis. Both primary and secondary sources that were readily available contributed to the success of this study.

Endnotes

  • C. Comfort, Poverty and Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: Implications for National Development. Ozean J. Soc. Sci. 2009, P. 58.
  • C. Comfort, Poverty and Youth Restiveness; 2009, P. 98
  • U.U. Okonkwo, Re-invoking the African Youth Charter in Policy Making at the State Government Level in Nigeria: Journal of Law and Conflict Resolution Vol. 3 (4),(2011) P. 59.
  • Human Right Watch Report, 2012. Retrieved 1st November, 2017
  • Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics Nigeria Poverty Profile, 2012. Retrieved 4th November, 2017.
  • Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics, 2012.
  • Human Right Watch Report, 2012, P. 52
  • I. Wakili, Journal Bans Boko Haram, Collaborators Risk 20 years Jail Term, Daily Trust, 2015, 5th June.
  • L. U. Odo, African Research Review: An International Multidisciplinary Journal, 2015, P. 53.
  • L. U. Odo, African Research Review: 2015, P. 53.
  • L. U. Odo, African Research Review: 2015, P. 53.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: Journal of Islam in Nigeria, University Press, Ilorin, 2015, P. 70.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 70.
  • M. Haralambus, & M. Holborn, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London, 2000, P. 2
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 67.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 67.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 67.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 67.
  • A.O. Abdul-Latect, A.A. Adam, The Shariah Solution to Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: 2015, P. 67.
  • A.Y. Yusuf, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 2014, P. 151 Retrieved 4th Nov. 2017.
  • A.Y. Yusuf, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 2014, P. 151
  • M. Jonathan, Concepts of Poverty. Retrieved 29th Nov. 2017 P. 23
  • T.A Ojua, An Assessment of the Impact of Poverty on Criminal Behaviour among Youths: A Case of Akpa.
  • M. Haralambus, & M. Holborn, Sociology: Theme and Perspectives. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London, 2000, P. 2
  • L. U. Odo, African Research Review: 2014, P.3
  • L. U. Odo, African Research Review: 2014, P.3
  • Walker, 2012, P.4
  • Walker, 2012, P.4
  • Sule Abubakar, Oral Interview; Farmer, 62years, Makurdi (Yobe Base-Farmer) 28th Jan. 2018

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