How Boko Haram is doing the ‘job’ of the Nigerian government by providing financial capital for start-ups

Recent reports by the Thompson Reuters Foundation indicate that Boko Haram is exploiting the financial gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to lure young Nigerians into the group and trap them. The insurgents are buying their way into the lives of young people in the north by providing aspiring entrepreneurs with loans to start up the businesses of their dreams.

Economic research media, Trading Economics, says the rate of unemployment in Nigeria increased from 9.90 percent to 10.40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, noting an increase in the number of unemployed persons. Living in this reality, young Nigerians are constantly looking for ways to generate income and make a living by establishing businesses of their own, but it’s not that easy. A recent entrepreneurship survey – the Anzisha Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2016 – revealed that access to financial capital is a huge barrier young African entrepreneurs battle with. Hence, Boko Haram is filling a critical gap, but at what cost?

“It is incredibly clever – either such loans breed loyalty or Boko Haram use mafia style tactics to trap and force young people to join them.” – Lisa Inks of Mercy Corps

International humanitarian aid agency, Mercy Corps, reports that although the Nigerian youth sees business ownership as a way to escape poverty, ‘this manna from heaven’ in the form of a loan from Boko Haram to start one, is “often a trap.” Those who cannot afford to repay their loans are forced into becoming militants or be killed. Thus, a number of young people in the north east have found themselves in a dilemma. What’s worse is that the government seems to care very little about them, even though they act like they do. This is why Mercy Corps has called for increased support for conflict-hit communities, including access to financial capital for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The harsh economic conditions and what is perceived as a lack of government involvement in the lives of average Nigerians continue to result in serious problems. It is a known fact that a number of factors, including youth unemployment, a lack of communication between the people and the government and declining economic fortunes, contribute to religious extremism, birthing insurgencies like Boko Haram. But is it not ridiculous that these same factors abound even now? Unemployment is on the rise, there are still lapses in communication between the government and the people, especially the young people – thankfully, social media has served as a dynamic tool for communication, but even that is currently under threat. And Boko Haram is still at large despite several “victory claims” by the Nigerian army.

While the government is busy preaching the false gospel of ‘change’, the insurgents are stepping in to do their [the government’s] jobs, albeit with evil intentions.

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