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Several factors have been identified by analysts and scholars as being responsible for terrorism in Nigeria. The factors range from corruption, poverty, unemployment, religious extremism, illiteracy among others. The contemporary Nigerian society is engulfed by terrible acts of terrorism. But as we have shown in this lecture paper, terror acts have been committed by both the State and terrorist organizations. One of the major contentions in this paper is that contemporary terrorism in Nigeria is a product of “bad governance” and the character of the State in Nigeria, which encourages a “culture of impunity”. This is a product of prolong failure of the State to provide purposeful leadership and deliver the dividends of “good governance” to the people. State neglect and State terrorism breeds a “culture of terrorism” and other segments, individuals and groups in the society imbibe this dominant political culture as a way of life. While this paper recognizes that there are other predisposing variables like economic marginalization, ethnic and religious fanaticism which influence terrorism, we contend that official corruption, State neglect and impunity, poverty and unemployment constitute the main causes of terrorism in Nigeria.
Economic and political factors offer deeper insights into the causes of terrorism. We argue that economic deprivation, political marginalization, frustration and civil disobedience in Nigeria are by products of official corruption. When public officers and politicians at federal, State and local government levels steal public funds allocated to build schools, hospitals, industries and provision of basic social services like water, electricity and road infrastructure, Nigerians are denied good governance. The youths especially are negatively affected —socially, psychologically and economically. As Adeyemi (2012) argues, “frustration, dejection and hopelessness remain as a daily experience in their lives. They can easily be brainwashed and indoctrinated into illegal activities and terrorism”. We make bold to say that terrorism, among other challenges, is the price we pay for producing a “reserved army” of depraved, deprived, frustrated and unemployed youths as a consequence of official corruption and a dysfunctional federal system of government. Let us proceed to demonstrate the interconnection between official corruption and terrorism in Nigeria.
Corruption can be viewed as the deliberate or inadvertent violation of ethics and codes that are supposed to govern the behavior of a particular profession, public service, private transaction, contractual agreements and actions which lead to selfish and dishonest personal gains to the disadvantage of another person, the system. or society in general. This may include abuse of office, misuse of power and authority for repressive and oppressive purposes, victimization, electoral malpractice, bribery, diversion of public funds, and inflation of contracts, amongst others. Indeed one’s failure to perform his duties also amounts to corruption. All of these can combine to breed discontent, frustration, deprivation, criminality and terrorism. Unfortunately, when we talk about corruption, our minds readily go to embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of funds and kick-backs. This may be so because we can more easily relate to the consequences and connection between the lack of provision of public goods and the diversion of such monies for personal and selfish use. See table 2 below as an example.
There are numerous accounts and examples of high profile corruption in Nigeria which should not detain us here, Suffice it to mention the celebrated cases of the missing $12.’4billion of Nigeria’s oil revenue from the central bank accounts during the Babangida regime (Onwudiwe, 2004), the pension scam where civil servants were robbed of billions of naira by government officials, fuel subsidy scam in which NNPC, fuel marketers and’ importers colluled to defraud this country, and many more cases that investigation and prosecutions have been stalled, like the Aviation Scam. These are all results of bad governance. Corruption, does not end with the stealing of public resources; it undermines justice, economic development and destroys public trust in government and political leaders. Corruption is a major cause of mass poverty. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report .for 2014 reveals that 112.47 million Nigerians (about 70%) live below $1.00 per day, as a result, they could barely afford the minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter.
The NBS further reports that 20.3 million Nigerians are jobless. The figure is inclusive of 5.3 million unemployed youths and an average of 1.8million graduates who enter into the labor market annually (Sunnewsonline, June 3, 2014). The North-West and North-East recorded the highest poverty rates in 2010 with 77.7% and 76.3% respectively (Awoyemi, 2012). See table 3 below:
It is easy to see the connection between corruption, unemployment, poverty and terrorism. The large mass of poverty stricken unemployed youths constitute fertile soil for recruitment as foot soldiers by terrorist organizations. There is a saying that “idleness is a disease”. it is further said that “the idle mind is the devils workshop”. Unemployment and poverty make our teeming youths vulnerable to terrorism and criminality, if we did not do something urgently, the near future portends more danger.
UNVEILING THE TERRORIST GROUPS IN NIGERIA
The contemporary Nigerian society is engulfed by terrible acts of terrorism. Terrorists and militant groups have unleashed havoc on the Nigerian society. Though these groups are numerous, the most lethal and deadly are the Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militants groups in terms of casualties, scope of operation and effects on the economy of the nation. It may be necessary to keep at the back of our minds the statement that “one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”.