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Militancy and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria
This paper examines militancy and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the challenges it poses to Nigeria’s development. Youths are principal actors in the transition from contentious politics to violence because they are most affected by situations of powerlessness, which state oppression aggravate. Despite the enormous contributions of the region to the wealth of Nigeria, the people of the Niger Delta have remained impoverished and underdeveloped. Paradoxically, the oil producing states have benefited least from the oil wealth. Devastated by the ecological costs of oil spillage and the highest gas flaring rates in the world, Niger Delta is a political tinderbox. Poverty, unemployment, decay infrastructure, corruption at high level, misery, and lack of basic human needs, seem to be lot of the people. For the youths, violence becomes a bargaining weapon for negotiating, legitimizing or violating (oppressive) public order. The poor and unemployed youths therefore formed militia groups to seek redress against the government and the multinational corporations operating in the area. This paper explains the Niger Delta militancy within the Frustration-Aggression Theory and argues that frustration is the bane of the recurrent violence in the region. The paper also argues that most of the circumstances that generate the frustration and anger that degenerate into murderous militancy and youth restiveness in the region is founded on the sense of injustice, unemployment and such other factors as environmental security and infrastructural developmental issues that sparked the conflict in the region. This paper recommends that economic empowerment of the citizenry, both young and old, should be the corner stone of government’s policy, as an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.
Keywords: Militancy, Corruption, Frustration-Aggression Theory, Terrorism, Niger-Delta, Security threat, Youth Restiveness