This research work is centered on the impact of unemployment on criminal activities in Niger Delta region of Nigeria using Cross River State as a case study. The study adopted the survey research design. A total of 450 research subjects were drawn from the target population using the stratified and random sampling technique. Frequency counts, simple percentage and chi-square methods were used to analyze the data and test the hypotheses. Findings from the research showed that unemployment has a significant impact on criminal activities in Cross River State. It also revealed that poverty has a significant impact on criminal activities in Cross River State. The study therefore recommended government’s intervention towards job creation to enable reduction in unemployment rate in the state which has eventual result in crime reduction.
1.1 Background of the Study
Crime is one major problem, and a burning issue in which every society particularly a developing one is faced with. Nigeria as a developing country faces her own share of social, political, economic and cultural problems at different regions which have in no small measure affected the well-being of the populace. One major cause universally agreed is the rising or increasing nature of unemployment.
It is commonly observed for most countries that unemployment and crime rates are positively correlated, but it is much more unclear whether the relationship means that unemployment causes crime, crime causes unemployment, or other factors cause either or both. In other words, the sign of the correlation is clear but the direction of the causality is not. One direction of the causality, unemployment affects crime, has received wide attention in the literature, but the reverse one has been largely neglected (Calro – Armengo and Yves Zenous, 2003).
The theoretical underpinning of the causality notion was developed some thirty years ago by Becker (1968), Stigler (1970) and Ehrlich (1973) among others. In Ehrlich’s model, individuals divide their time between legal activities and risky illegal activities. If legal income opportunities become scarce relative to potentials gains from crime, the model predicts that crime will become more frequent. Increased unemployment could be such factor.
Government the world over try to curb crime rates and if possible, eradicate crime. Similarly, unemployment, an economic disease, is a problem which government tries to reduce. It is noteworthy that wherever there is unemployment, especially at a high rate, there is a tendency for crime rate to increase dramatically this is because people are easily lured or compelled to criminal tendencies in the face of frustrations, poverty and loss of hope in earning a decent living (Egunjobi, 2003). According to Becker’s economic theory of crime, unemployed people are deprived of legal income and thus, they tend to derive some income from illegal activities. Many models of crime suggest that the unemployed and individuals with low wages face strong urge to commit crime.
The Niger Delta region particularly Cross River State is severely hit by criminal activities and unemployment despite the abundant human and natural resources available in the region, a situation World Bank describes as unemployment in the midst of plenty (World Bank, 1996). The rise in criminal activities among youths in the Niger Delta region has been fuelled by extreme poverty and underdevelopment, discontent with the international oil companies, oil spillage, environmental damage and corruption by government officials which ensure little development reaches the host communities. Unemployment on the other hand is evident in the Niger Delta as Eboh (2009) opined that over 60% of the youths in the region are unemployed. The streets are littered with youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some enterprises (Okafor, 2011).
It is upon this background that this research work is intended to ask the following questions:
To what extent does unemployment affect criminal activities in Niger Delta region particularly Cross River State?
How can the government reduce unemployment rate in the region with eventual reduction in criminal activities in the region?
How can the vast natural resources of the Niger Delta region be managed to fully benefit the communities.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The Niger Delta region which comprises seven states; Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Ondo, has a huge oil and gas deposits which currently amount for more than 80% of the nation’s crude extraction and more than 70% of revenue to service the nation’s economy. The region is blessed with vast and huge natural resources which contribute to about 80% of the nation’s budget and about 70% of her GDP. Despite these huge potentials, the region is littered with unemployed youths as Eboh (2009) states that about 60% of Niger Delta youths unemployed.
In a bid to harnessing, controlling and utilizing the resources of the regions to benefits the indigenes, the youths, young adults and even a good number of child have resolved to restive measures which have been evident in political thuggery, illegal oil bunkering, firearms business, kidnapping, piracy, militancy and other social vices which are dangers to the stability of democracy in Nigeria (Okafor, 2011).
The arm insurgency in the region traces its roots to a perceived sense of neglects by both oil companies and national government. Despite its strategic and economic significance, human development indices for the Niger Delta region are starkly behind national averages. Furthermore, the pollution resulting from oil and gas prospecting have affected indigenous sources of livelihood like fishing and brought home disease, malnutrition and high fatality rate beside serious environmental repercussion. Also, poverty remains endemic despite the billion flowing into the national coffers. Poverty however exacts and inevitable social toll, and for an impoverished people, crime is often and easy step from deprivation.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is to access the impact of unemployment on criminal activities in Cross River State.
Specific objectives are:
(1) To examine the extent in which unemployment rate impact on criminal activities in Cross River State.
(2) To access the relationship that exists between unemployment and poverty in Cross River State.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
In line with the stated objectives, the following hypotheses will be tested;
H0: Unemployment has no significant impact on criminal activities in Cross River State.
H0: There is no significant relationship between unemployment and poverty in Cross River State.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is significant as it will take an in-depth analysis into the root causes of the Niger Delta crisis as it investigates various criminal activities and their effect on the region. The finding of the study will prove an insight into what crimes are really committed on the region and also reveal what effect they have on the region. Also, this study will contribute in no small way to the literature in this area of study. Finally, governments will through this work understand the basic problems retarding the growth of the region thus, proffer possible solutions.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study concentrates its investigation on the Niger Delta region in investigating the impact of unemployment on criminal activities in Cross River State. The delimitation is made so as to enable the researcher focus the search light on Cross River State area of the Niger Delta region.
1.7 Definition of Terms
(i) Crime: Crime can be defined as an act that violate the law of the society or serious offence against the law of the society for which there is severe punishment by law.
(ii) Criminal Activities: Criminal activities are referred to as those activities that violate the law of the society and are punishable under the law.
(iii) Sustainable Development: This is described as that development that meets the needs and aspirations of the present generations without compromising the ability to meet the need of future generation.
(iv) Youth Restiveness: This is referred to as the agitation by youth in the Niger Delta region.
(v) Kidnapping: This is refers to the seizure of individuals by other groups for purpose of receiving ransom on their release.
(vi) Oil Exploitation: This is the process that involves the drilling and the refining of crude oil by the oil companies.
(vii) Niger Delta Region: This is the littoral region in Nigeria located in the Atlantic coast, transverse by Delta and its tributaries. The region comprises seven states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Ondo states.
(viii) Unemployment: This is a situation in which those willing and able to work do not find any, at the prevailing wage rate.