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Economic Root Cause Analysis on Boko Haram

Autor:   •  March 13, 2018  •  8,301 Words (34 Pages)  •  82 Views

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Defining Terrorism and Poverty

Before being able to do a root cause analysis, it is necessary to define terrorism and the different types of terrorist there are in order to have a thorough understanding of the crisis. Terrorism is a widely discussed topic among scholars; nonetheless the complexity of the term remains. A generalization for defining terrorism would be very naïve. For this analysis we will focus on the type of terrorism we encounter in Nigeria. Terrorism is a very controversial term, since “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” (Seymour, 1975). The perspective when looking at terrorism can result in diverging ideas. It seems that terrorism is something relative and even subjective depending if focused on the objective or on the means used. Desbruslais even states that terrorism “is only a perception imposed on someone that does not necessarily describe any intrinsic truth about the person” (2009), suggesting an obversation aquired from a certain standpoint. In this analysis terrorism will be seen as any kind of violent act committed by the state, a group of people or a single person with the goal to spread a state of fear and terror in society. The cause of the violent act itself is of little importance, considering purely objectively the damage caused in society. Terrorism therefore does not imply radical religious ideologies by the offenders. Throughout history there were four common types of terrorism, as Rapoport has identified: anarchistic, anti-colonial, new left and religious terrorism (2004). The first type incurred during the 19th and 20th century preventing democratic reforms in Europe. The second movement was around the 1920s opposing against colonialism. The rebel acts of Ireland against England during that time are an example of this wave. In these cases, from their perspective they were opposing against the state-terror of England. It is again a matter of perspective. The third tendency acted against the western world, questioning the democratic system, favoring communism. Terrorist groups that can be classified to this tendency are the West German Red Army Faction (RAF), the Japanese Red Army and the Italian Red Brigades, who were all following a communist ideology arguing with violence. The last type of terrorism is the nowadays found religious terrorism, based on radical fundamentalism. The religious motive and justification for terrorism is however seen in this paper only as the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the religious ideology are hidden root causes that affect a wide group of the population and make especially radical Islam in the case of Nigeria so powerful. Besides terrorism, the other main variable is poverty, which likewise terrorism does not have a unanimous definition. Every nation has a different standard of living and different situational needs, which lead to very diverse definitions of poverty. Aigbokham defines poverty as “a state of long-term deprivation of well-being, a situation considered inadequate for decent living” (Aigbokhan, 2008). This definition adapts to the relative poverty situation in every country and signifies the lack of necessary basic needs but leaves open a proper image of decent living. Poverty can be differentiated between relative and absolute poverty. Under absolute poverty is considered a specific standardized level necessary for a person in order to cover the basic needs. Absolute poverty makes it possible to measure quantitatively poverty falling under a set poverty line. The World Bank created the 1.25$ a day poverty line. For our later quantitative analysis poverty will be measured in terms of absolute poverty. Relative poverty refers to the poverty level of a country relative to the average income of their citizens. In the case of developing countries relative poverty levels are generally lower than the absolute poverty line, ignoring basic rights and necessities that are not accessible for the majority of the population. Therefore, these relative poverty lines, thus considering and adapting to the general standard of the society, do not reflect the minimum rights a human being has to have in order to preserve a vigorous life. These poverty lines are necessary to measure poverty across nations; the social concept of poverty shall however be defined as an absolute term including the exact essentials a person in poverty is deprived off. Referring back to the statement of Aigbokham, decent living has to be defined as a term which can be applied to all societies that reign in the 21st century. Katsina includes in a decent life access to “universal and qualitative education, safe drinking water, affordable health care and sanitary facilities, nutrition, shelter and clothing” (Katsina, 2012). These goods are necessary for every human being in order to achieve a healthy life standard that is not in endangered or which is harmed by the lack of any other material good. But Katsina is seeing poverty through the prism of material dispossession. The human being has more requirements in order to live a decent life. Humans need freedom, dignity, self-respect, and the respect of others, along with the previously mentioned goods. Without these indices a human being lives below the level of dignity which corresponds to him. In this paper this definition will be used for a general better understanding and additionally in order to tackle effectively the causes of the rising poverty levels in Nigeria and to explain the relation between poverty and terrorism.

III. Previous Literature

In the academic world, the causes of violent conflicts in developing countries have always been on focus. During the investigation for this paper two mayor directions have been observed. The first main line of theories concentrates the root cause on an unjust government, discriminating ethnic minorities and referring to political repression. Inequality is thereby a medium of power over the masses. This main line is therefore politically motivated. The second main line of theories relates violence and terrorism to economic conditions rather than political or ethnical factors. Poverty and income inequality are hereby the cause of armed uprising. In this paper the focus will be on the latter, being the former merely a result of deep rooted economic factors. The spectrum of academic papers and different approaches and perspectives is vast and relative to this complex subject. It is therefore that only certain academic papers will be mentioned, specifically papers that set a milestone on this subject from an empirical perspective. In 1975 Danziger and Wheeler researched the relation between absolute and relative poverty and crime using a cross sectional analysis and a time series analysis. The time series analysis suggested that there was a significant relation


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