Director for Research, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation
The current rate of poverty in Nigeria is alarming. This has resulted in the ill-search for economic independence among the people, especially young ones, making them vulnerable to engage in all kinds of criminality such as kidnapping and banditry for ransom, terrorism to cyber crimes, etc. Many youths have become the instrument of political violence in the hands of political egoists.
To promote peace in Nigeria, this article succinctly examines the link between poverty and violent conflict. It suggests the need for the formulation of a grant policy capable of financially empowering community-based non-governmental organizations to implement their community development projects, which can be synergy to ameliorating the rate of poverty and prevention of violent conflict in the country.
POVERTY AND VIOLENT CONFLICT IN NIGERIA
For the purpose of this article, poverty is defined as a lack of the financial or economic resources to meet one’s needs. It is also man’s inability to own the financial resources to meet his basic needs of life: food, clothing, and shelter. Corruption and political instability have been major causes of poverty in Nigeria. Despite the enormous natural and human resources almost half of the citizens of Nigeria are living below the poverty line. The resultant effect has been an increase in violence across the nation: violent separatist agitations; religio-political terrorism; cult violence among youth; kidnapping and banditry; community and tribal clashes; electoral violence to mention a few.
Research has shown that violent conflicts are the result of low per capita income and slow economic growth. There is the possibility that a nation will experience an increase in violence when the economic well-being of ordinary people is not taken care of. Ritual killings for economic gain among the youth are a threat to young women and girls who have become victims of the diabolic and inhumane act. High rate of unemployment and made young ones vulnerable to violent association, thus, increasing the risk of violence.
People in rural communities constitute an important sector of the country’s population. They live in abject poverty and are often neglected by the government in terms of socio-economic and political wellbeing. Crimes and insecurity have become the consequences of such marginalization. Poverty makes them more prone to civil war and armed conflict, weakening the government’s capacity to foster development. This interplay between poverty and conflict is obvious in Nigeria. Several cases of conflicts in the country are traceable to poverty, including violence against women. Alleviating poverty should be a major focus of the government as a measure of preventing and curbing violent conflict.
GRANT POLICY FOR COMMUNITY-BASED NGOs: A SYNERGY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION AND VIOLENT CONFLICT PREVENTION.
Public policy is the objective guide and broad strategy designed by the government to tackle a major societal challenge. It is a policy devoid of egotism and nepotism in resolving a major problem confronting a nation. An example of public policy is grant policy. A grant is a sum of money given by the government to fund projects directed toward solving critical problems in society.
Grant policy is a public policy formulated by the government to enable organizations embarking on several projects that foster social, political and economic development to have access to financial awards from the government. Grant policy is a fundamental strategy that increases the financial capacity of non-governmental organizations to operate and alleviate the poor conditions of people living in the communities they serve.
Community-based non-governmental organizations are known to be impactful in addressing the needs of local communities in the areas of development. They possess the power of inclusiveness; the ability to use their community and social networks as resources to meet their set development goals and objectives. They are close to the communities they serve by implementing a series of community development projects to better the lives of neglected and vulnerable people. Through executing various projects, they can activate an environment that promotes the dignity of labour, virtue, respect and dignity for human lives and others. But they do not exist without a major challenge-inadequate financial capacity. They lack adequate financial resources to implement their humanitarian activities targeted toward achieving sustainable development in the local communities.
The government needs the input of community-based NGOs with constructive programs targeted toward poverty alleviation to reduce the vulnerability of people living in neglected communities to join violent groups. This improves the living conditions of the people and leaves them with the choice of living peaceably with others as against the use of violence for economic gains. It will also help in ameliorating violent conflict risk as is often tied to the struggle for scarce economic resources. Thus, giving grants to community-based NGOs is a good governance approach that does not only promote individual, community and national economic sustainability but also a synergy to violent conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the Nigerian communities.
The poor are often vulnerable tools for violence in society. The legislative arm of government should make formulation and implementation of grant policy for community-based NGOs a major agenda. Civil Society Organizations and various media organizations have a big role to play in persuading the government to formulate and implement established principles that increases the financial capacity of these NGOs to enable them effectively carry out their community development project to mitigate violent conflict risk in the country.