It is difficult to answer questions about how Nigeria can and should achieve sustainable economic, social and political growth. This column takes a look at well known development economic theories and applies them to the unique Nigerian context.


Does Poverty Fuel Terrorism?

Martha Sambe

Martha Sambe

Martha is a graduate of Development Economics and International Cooperation. She enjoys researching topics in development, sociology, and religion.

The Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as the “unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”.

Terrorism dates back several hundred years but terrorism in the 21st Century is defined by 9/11. The attacks which have followed and the “war on terror” in response, have made terrorism a defining phenomenon of our time. And it is a phenomenon Nigeria has been subject to as it deals with Boko Haram.

Terrorism is often linked to poverty, with an assertion that should poverty be eradicated, terrorism would eventually die. A Time article from 2015 claimed that policymakers more consistently espoused the idea that poverty breeds terrorism, and in an analysis of the topic, the Yale Review of International Studies quoted both Presidents Bush and Obama alluding to the same idea.

Nevertheless, the relationship between terrorism and poverty is not that straightforward. 


Poverty = Terrorism?

A literature review on the causes of terrorism points out that violent conflicts, including terrorism, occur more frequently in poor states. In addition, more open economies that experienced sustained economic growth also witnessed fewer violent conflicts than their poorer counterparts. The authors explained that was due to higher economic costs in wealthier countries – incentives for participating in insurrections are often higher in poorer countries. 

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