The particular observation in this study, that people join Boko Haram because of financial rewards, challenges the popular scholarly proposition that poverty has no direct causal link with terrorism and violent extremism. Although, it is not the only cause, poverty or financial reward, does, however play an important role in people’s decision to join Boko Haram. The despicable poverty in northern Nigeria has made terrorism, like most conflicts in Africa, a matter of bread and butter. Boko Haram seems to offer an alternative to or a vent for those frustrated with the Nigerian government. The group has successfully exploited historical, religious, social, governance, economic and political injustices or gaps in order to create a support base in northern Nigeria. This study has also demonstrated deep divisions among Nigerians, particularly along geographic and religious lines on the causes and how to deal with Boko Haram. However, there are some areas, where there is a strong tendency for consensual agreement, particularly with respect to the role of financial incentive as a driver of radicalization, and the important role of the military in the quest for solution. Importantly, the study underscores the need to design specific strategies to counter Boko Haram recruitment and sources of financing.
Since 2009, Boko Haram have unleashed atrocities which have affected millions of people in Nigeria and the region as a whole. The results of a field-based study on peace builders’ perspectives of the drivers of violent extremism; and the underlying socio-economic and political factors that influence individuals to join Boko Haram is presented in this policy brief. The study reveals that peace builders consider religious dynamics as the most influential factor in an individuals’ decision to join the terrorist group. As such, the study reveals that peace builders’ views regarding the drivers of violent extremism are often markedly different to those expressed by former Boko Haram members themselves.