Ever wondered how it is that ISIS or some other group can literally raise an army of thousands of young people all willing to inflict violence?
That always had me thinking. And I think I’ve got a good reason why. I am pretty sure the theories can get quite heavy with these things, but here is one word which I think captures the situation well: Joblessness. (It is a Nigerian word that doesn’t quite mean “unemployed” but it is close enough.) Like, it is mad simple: If you don’t wake up early everyday, get into whatever mode of transportation you use and go to some place where you have to concentrate on something productive for 8 hours, you are basically fair game for some ideologue to turn you into an extremist. Trust me on this, after walking this beat for almost a decade now, I can categorically state (as we are wont to say in Nigeria) that when you get home from work, all you want to do is eat and watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
But when you are jobless, all sorts of crazy ideas pop into your head. I often wonder about this when I think of the low-key insurgencies in various stages of upsurge which seem to have appeared all over Nigeria in the past couple of years. Boko Haram, IPOB, Niger Delta activists, violent cults, Sunni militias, and so on. The jobless youth are the tinder for all of these movements. The simple point is that if your country is not providing people something to do, there is a far higher chance that they will get to doing something, and it won’t be anything productive. I am not one for predictions and I try not to be cynical or pessimistic by default, but we have to start to consider whether the chickens are coming home to roost.
In short, at the heart of these insurgencies may simply be a lack of opportunities for young people to be gainfully employed and to watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta.