A Deepening Divide

Few Nigerians support the radical aims of Boko Haram, yet few challenge its charge of government corruption. The free elections held since 1999 have been tainted by violence and fraud. Meanwhile Nigeria’s failure to equitably distribute billions of dollars in oil income undermines the resource-poor north, threatening the nation’s stability.


Poverty level by geopolitical zone,* 2010

Unevenly Shared Resources

GDP per person per year** by geopolitical zone

Youth Surge

Children per woman by geopolitical zone

One percent of Nigerians are wealthy, and there’s an educated middle class. But nearly two-thirds of people live in absolute poverty, a greater percentage in the more agricultural north than in the south.

Almost all of Nigeria’s budget and foreign exchange comes from oil tapped in the south’s Niger River Delta. Wealth not siphoned off by corruption benefits mainly the south, fueling resentment in the north.

Sixty-three percent of Nigerians are under age 25. High fertility rates have led to a large youth population in the north, where economic growth lags and job shortages are a source of tension.

*Nigerian Government Classification. **Constant 2005 PPP Dollars. Age 15 to 49.
John Tomanio and Alexander Stegmaier, NGM Staff
Sources: Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley; Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics; Canback Dangel