On October 10, 2002, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) granted the ownership of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.[1] Following the ruling, both sides, Cameroon and Nigeria, have taken positive steps, most notably of which, is the Green Tree Agreement [GTA][2] aimed at the implementation of the ICJ Judgment. However, in the past nine months, there have been acts of violence against Cameroon officials in the area[3], court action by some in Nigeria to halt the August 14, 2008 hand over[4], Nigeria’s Senate declaration that the GTA is unconstitutional[5] and the pronouncement that the Nigerian military was not consulted.[6] Not surprisingly, these series of events have raised concerns and anxiety in the respective territories of both nations.

It would be simplistic to dismiss these series of events as meant for internal consumption in Nigerian. However, the consequences of some of these acts, whether intended or not, have gravely affected both Nigerians and Cameroonians. From an historic perspective, when the Northern Cameroons opted for integration with the Federation of Nigeria on June 1, 1961,[7]as a separate province of the Northern Region of Nigeria, families from both sides of the border were impacted, during the Biafra war from May 30, 1967 until January 15, 1970,[8] again families on both sides of the common boundary were also impacted. Today, the same can be said of the series of events involving Bakassi. Fortunately, the one constant has been the astuteness and appreciation of a fundamental and controlling fact by the leadership of both nations.[9] The symbiotic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria transcends Bakassi and in the final analysis these series of events will not hinder the transfer of the administration of Bakassi to Cameroon on August 14, 2008.

The positions that the GTA is unconstitutional under the Nigerian Constitution; that the Nigerian military was not consulted prior to its ratification by former President Olusegun Obasanjo; or the application for a Nigerian court to void a judgment of the ICJ, are necessary and important expression of opinions in a democratic society. However, a casual examination, of the rationale advanced for each of these positions, suggests a general confusion in these quarters about the scope and purpose of the Green Tree Agreement.

Application by anyone to a Nigerian court to void a judgment of the ICJ, while an expression of freedom of speech, begs of intellectual dishonesty given the well settled principle of jurisprudence that a lower court cannot review a decision of a higher court. In fact, the lower court in this case, a Nigerian High Court, is bound by the decision of the higher court, the ICJ, recognized as such by the sovereign.[10] Similarly, the suggestion that “the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, presumptively did not consult the military before the cession of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon,”[11] should somehow invalidate a Judgment of the ICJ is misplaced and perplexing, irrespective of any security concerns.[12]

Former President Obasanjo did not relinquish Bakassi or caused a cession of any territory under Nigerian sovereign jurisdiction to Cameroon. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not true. When President Obasanjo signed the GTA on June 12, 2006, Bakassi was already internationally recognized as being an integral part of the sovereign territory of Cameroon.[13] Indeed, the GTA provides; “Nigeria recognizes the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula in accordance with the [sic] judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002 in the matter of land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria recognize the land and maritime boundary between the two countries as delineated by the Court and commit themselves to continuing the process of implementation already begun.”[14] Consistent with the clear understanding of the parties, “No part of this [sic] GTA shall be interpreted as a renunciation by Cameroon of its sovereignty over any part of its territory.[15]

Thus, the GTA does not convey any land to Cameroon, but was rather intended to be a guide for the implementation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of October 10, 2002. Specifically, “This Agreement shall in no way be construed as an interpretation or modification of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002, for which the Agreement only sets out the modalities of implementation [emphasis added].[16] The GTA is not a treaty permitting cession of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon, but an embodiment of the modalities by which the administration of the peninsula by Nigeria[17] would be transferred to Cameroon. The scope of the GTA is, therefore, analogous to an instructional mechanism for the consolidation of the de facto and de jure sovereignty of Cameroon over its own territory.[18] In this regard, Nigeria had accepted the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction by a declaration dated 14 August 1965, deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 3 September 1965. Similarly, Cameroon had also accepted the Court's compulsory jurisdiction by a declaration deposited with the Secretary-General on 3 March 1994. The Secretary-General transmitted copies of the Cameroon Declaration to the Parties to the Statute eleven-and-a-half months later.[19] Thus, having accepted the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction, both parties are bound by the decision of the ICJ in this matter.

Since the GTA is not a treaty permitting cession of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon, but rather an embodiment of the modalities by which the administration of the peninsula by Nigeria would be transferred to Cameroon, the question arises whether the GTA must be ratified by the Nigerian National Assembly to be constitutional and thus binding on Nigeria. We have already noted that the leaders of both countries had previously committed themselves and their countries to honor and abide by the ruling of the ICJ before that Court ever rendered its judgment. In addition, both parties are bound by their voluntary acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. Also in the introduction Section of the GTA, the parties [sic] “reaffirmed their willingness to peacefully implement the judgment of the International Court of Justice” and then proceeded to recognize the existence of the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula before the adoption of the GTA on June 12, 2006.

Proponents of the constitutional argument fail to recognize the clear distinction between treaty making and implementation. In the context of treaty making or ratification, a country such as Nigeria acquiesces to be bound by a treaty.[20] The process invariably involves a transfer of a limited aspect or a limitation of supreme national sovereignty by the supreme collective sovereignty. Thus, when Cameroon and Nigeria ratified the treaty on the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction, they obligated their countries to honor and enforce the ICJ decision. Conversely, implementation of a treaty, sometimes referred to as domestication, may require legislative action when the performance of the obligations of the state entails alteration of existing domestic law.[21] In light of the nature of the GTA as an implementation document, what then is the legal effect of non domestication of the agreement by Nigeria? The simple response is that non domestication of the GTA by the Nigerian National Assembly would not relieve Nigeria of its clearly defined obligations under the judgment of the ICJ of October 2002 and similarly under the Green Tree Agreement.[22]

Nigeria, as a member of the United Nations and a party to the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the ICJ, is under the obligation “to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party.[23] In the event of non-compliance with the judgment of the ICJ by Nigeria, Cameroon may invoke the authority of the UN Security Council to impose appropriate sanctions.[24] However, given the critical importance of the historic and symbiotic relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria and considering that non of the arguments advanced to support the rejection of the transfer of administrative authority from Nigeria to Cameroon withstands a modicum of scrutiny[25], we are convinced that Nigeria will stand by its official position and hand over the administrative authority over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon on August 14, 2008 as scheduled.

Simon W Tache

[1] Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria, ICJ Reports, 303 (2002)


[3] According to Cameroon's Army Chief of Staff, General Rene Claude Ze Meka, the DO of Kombo Abedimo was heading nine-man delegation on his maiden official visit to a fishing port in Kombo when tragedy struck “Cameroon: Bakassi Boils Again - DO, 5 Soldiers Shot”, The Post (Buea), 12 June 2008,; Nearly 30 Cameroon soldiers have been killed and more than five wounded by so called unknown attackers. See, for example,

[4] “Nigeria: Court Urged to Halt Handover of Bakassi”. 18 July 2008,

[5] “Nigerian Senate Rejects Bakassi Peninsular Hand-Over”, November 24, 2007,

[6] What bearing if any does the failure of a Head of State to consult the military brass have to do with implementation of a judgment of the ICJ? “Nigeria: War Imminent Over Bakassi - Defense Chief”, July 17, 2008,

[7] UN Resolution 1608 (XV) of April 21, 1961

[8] On May 30, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the South Eastern Region of Nigeria an independent state of Biafra with a capital at Enugu. The ensuing civil war, that lasted until January 15, 1970, caused nearly one million deaths; Hanbury, Prof H G (January 1967). "OE News - News from All Quarters". The Epsomian XCVII (1): 35. Retrieved on 2007-08-26. “Colonel C O Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria was vigorously commended in The Daily Telegraph; "Biafra: Thirty years on," BBC. 13 January 2000. Thirty years later, Nigeria cannot find peace. Cameroonians must make every effort not to succumb to the same pitfall. [9] Even before the ICJ ruling, the leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon had already committed themselves on September 5, 2002 to abide by a decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on a border dispute between the two countries, and would restore friendly relations.
“CAMEROON-NIGERIA: Obasanjo, Biya to abide by ICJ border decision”, ABIDJAN, 6 September 2002,

[10] As the lawyer representing the Nigerian government, lawyer Abel Ezioko, correctly pointed out, “the High Court could not to sit as an appeal tribunal to the ICJ.”This court cannot upturn the judgment of the ICJ,” Nigeria: Cameroonian Deputy Governor Abducted in Bakassi, June 11, 2008,

[11] Ironically, he continued, “He said, "I am not sure that the military made any contribution to the Green Tree Agreement, but I know that the then Chief of Defense Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, traveled with the former President to New York when the agreement was signed." “Nigeria: War Imminent Over Bakassi - Defense Chief” Leadership (Abuja), 17 July 2008,

[12] This author can assure General Owoye Azazi, that the Nigerian military has been in consultation with regard to the Bakassi maritime boundary delineation since 1970.

[13] See Note 1.

[14] Article 1 of the GTA

[15] Article 4 of the GTA

[16] Article 7 of the GTA

[17] Annex I(3)(c) of the GTA directs Nigeria “ not engage in any activity in the Zone which would complicate or hinder the transfer of authority to Cameroon;”

[18] The presence of the Nigerian Administration on the peninsular did not and could not destroy the Cameroon sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsular. This fact was clearly recognized and validated by the ICJ.

[19] After examining the legislative history of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the Court concluded “that the general rule reflected in Articles 16 and 24 of the Vienna Convention, which, the Court observes, may only be applied to declarations accepting the Court's jurisdiction as obligatory by analogy, is that: the deposit of instruments of ratification. acceptance, approval or accession to a treaty establishes the consent of a State to be bound by a treaty; and that the treaty enters into force as regards that State on the day of the deposit. Thus the rules adopted in this sphere by the Vienna Convention correspond to the solution adopted by the Court in the case concerning Right of Passage over Iizdirlir Territory,” ICJ/. Reports 1957, p. 146

[20] Article 1 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969.

[21] Contrast with [sic] the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;” Article II, section 2 of the Constitution for the United States of America,

[22] A party to a treaty “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty,” Article 27 and a party to a treaty “may not invoke the fact that its consent to be bound by a treaty has been expressed in violation of a provision of its internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties as invalidating its consent unless that violation was manifest and concerned a rule of its internal law of fundamental importance”46 of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

[23] Article 94(1) of the UN Charter and Article 59 of the Statute of the ICJ)

[24] Article 94(2) of the UN Charter.

[25] For an analysis in accord, see “BAKASSI: CRITICAL LOOK AT THE GREEN TREE AGREEMENT” by Professor Edwin Egede, PhD,


On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected a new President of the United States of America. While some will argue that the electorate college elected the new President, such an assertion ignores some basic facts. In the United States of America, presidents are elected by the Electoral College, which is directly correlated to, but not controlled by popular vote. True, over 90 million eligible voters didn't vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. A month before the election, the number of Americans eligible to vote was projected as 231,556,622, but 131,741,000 or approximately 65 .9% of registered voters voted, which means that 34.1 percent of registered voters didn't vote[1].

Of the 231,556,622 Americans, eligible to vote, 200 million people registered to vote. This meant that 31,556,622 or approximately 13.6% of Americans did not registered to vote and could not and did not vote. Effectively 47.7% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters did not vote. The nearly 48% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters who did not vote essentially abdicated their civic duties to the remaining 52% of the American registered voters. Hence, by implication they voted in absentia and consequently, a majority of Americans elected the new President to be, Donald J. Trump, notwithstanding any argument to the contrary.

Of course, the fact that nearly 48% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, should be of serious concern to all Americans who cherish and hold dear the democratic principles upon which this country was founded. We recognized and accepted that less than 3% of the nearly 48% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters who did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, for one reason or another, would not have voted. This would be true even if the 13.6% of Americans had fully registered to vote. Nevertheless, we are still confronted with the challenge of explaining that nearly 46.6% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.

With respect to those Americans who were eligible to vote and/or registered voters who did not vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, voter suppression, lack of enthusiasm and the erroneous assumption that an individual's vote will make no difference were contributing factors. This however, still does not explain the decision of those who voted to abandon ideological stability, a long-standing pillar of American democracy for the unpredictable.

We recognize that there is a litany of plausible contributing factors to explain that nearly 46.6% of Americans eligible to vote and/or registered voters did not vote[2]. However, we postulate that the most compelling reason to explain the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is attributed to a phenomenon we call "fear of insecurity vote"[3].

The September 11, 2001, terrorists attack on the World Trade Center in New York City was a harbinger of global insecurity. Americans for the first time, were confronted with a sense of vulnerability heretofore unthinkable. Up until September 11, 2001, international terrorism was a distant and rare occurrence in the homeland. Now, the rapid rise of radical Islamist terrorists' ideology, accelerated by internet technology, has given terrorist groups, such as ISIS[4], exposure which has further exacerbated this sense of vulnerability. The urgency of this perceived vulnerability was the prime mover of the phenomenon "fear of insecurity vote". Some Americans found in the campaign promises of the new President-elect, a candidate capable of providing a solution to allay their fears irrespective of the inherent problems associated with that solution. In effect, the result of the 2016 presidential election was primarily driven by the phenomenon, "fear of insecurity.'

Ironically, no consideration was given to the maxim that every policy driven solution is mirrored by connected problems. Nor did these voters appreciate the enormity of the actions the President-elect must undertake to remove the "fear of insecurity" phenomenon. For the President-elect to be able to provide this solution, he must necessarily create other major problems. Since the President-elect has identified Muslims as the source of the "fear of insecurity" phenomenon, in order for him remove the root cause of the problem, he must bar all Muslims, including those from non-Muslim countries, from entering the United States; he must place all Muslims in the United States, including those who are US citizens under constant surveillance and he must identify and monitor those in the United States who are or may be susceptible to radical Islamists ideology. Furthermore, he must defeat ISIS in about 29 different countries[5].

In the aftermath of any presidential election, members of the rejected party often suffer from the agony of defeat while members of the elected party usually are excited by the thrilled of victory. No matter your political inclination within this political spectrum, we urge you to take solace in the wisdom of the forefathers because they were cognizant of the flirting nature of political winds and were astute enough to recognize that every policy driven solution has built-in associated problems. For these reasons, they designed a system of governance with three co-equal branches; Legislative, Executive and Judicial, specifically to confront unpredictable changes. Through this balance of power structure, major unpredictable changes, absent a threat to national security, are often not likely to be implemented in the immediacy of the moment and often involve a lengthy process of negotiations and compromises to formulate solutions which generally emerge at or towards the center.

Thus, anyone who seriously thinks that the President-elect of the United States can implement a significant portion, let alone, all of his election campaign promises, given the structure of the American system of government, will be in for deflating surprises[6]. Sure, the President-elect will in some cases enjoy congressional support, the judiciary branch is more likely to scrutinize constitutional violations irrespective of the composition of the Supreme Court. For example, the promise to establish Congressional term limits, even though by virtue of the 7th Amendment, Senators are now directly elected by the people, would be unconstitutional.[7]

Notwithstanding the problems associated with the solution created by the 2016 presidential election, the protection of the integrity of democratic practices compel the examination of the issues of failure to register to vote and to vote by some Americans eligible to vote, but who did not vote and voter suppression. Nationally, specific emphasis and inquiry should be focused on voter suppression, and appropriate steps should be taken to disavow, disband, eliminate and if necessary, to sanction the practice of voter suppression. The right to vote and the imperative of exercising that right is indispensable to the very survival of democracy.

Since we have concluded that the result of the 2016 presidential election was primarily driven by the phenomenon, "fear of insecurity," some of the major and difficult problems that the new President-elect will face are therefore, foreign policy related. If he were to attempt to implement those policies that attracted the "fear of insecurity voters," those policies would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the concerns of "fear of insecurity voters". The catalyst that accelerated the intensity of the phenomenon, "fear of insecurity," is radical Islamists terrorism as advocated by terrorists groups such as ISIS.

It is imperative to recognize that radical Islamism is not and should not be equated to Islam. Radical Islamists such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any permutation of the terrorist groups is symptomatic of a broader societal ideological, economic and political malaise. Therefore, it would take a concerted and collaborative international effort to defeat radical Islamist terrorism. As a major player in world affairs, the United States of America must insist on the formulation of well devised and concrete national, regional and international measures and mechanisms to address not just the symptoms, but the root causes, (conditions), that have created and fostered this malaise.

[1] "2016 November General Election Turnout Rates,"

[2] Rightly or wrongly, we are mindful that voters had a very negative view of the two presidential candidates; voters expressed a pervasive anti-establishment sentiment; resentment that voting for Senator Clinton would be another major historic shift so soon after the historic election of President Obama; voters saw in the media coverage of the election vitriol a normalization and acceptance of the social divide; disdain at the idea of creating a Bush or Clinton dynasty; a complete lack of a vision and message of hope that would galvanize; and the James Comey factor (Director of the FBI announcement of criminal investigations of the Democratic candidate during the campaign period) etc., may all have played a role in the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

[3] This was the so called Trump Secret Vote.

[4] Established under the name of Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 and see also, Declaration of an Islamic state in Iraq: October13, 2006

[5] "ISIS goes global: 143 attacks in 29 countries have killed 2,043,"

[6] In the end, to be a successful President, Donald J Trump will please and concomitantly disappoint both the Left and the Right.

[7] U.S term limits Treaties Inc. v Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)



"All life matters" is a truism because it is self-evident and we concur. However, we are in danger of converting the three words in this powerful phrase into banality by making it a talking point. In examining these three words, we find that the pre-determiner 'all" means a whole, one unit, everyone, everybody, each person, every person. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines life as, "the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body." Therefore, life as used in this context means human life. When a subject or subject matter is being talked about, or thought of, or dominates our conscience, it matters. For purposes of this expose, "matters" means sanctity or inviolability. Therefore, when we affirm that all life matters, we hold as true the sanctity and inviolability of all human life which necessarily includes; everyone, everybody, each person, in short, every human being regardless of individual physical differences.

Regrettably, most of us often formulate judgment about other people based  on physical attributes or characteristics, which are only 25% of the dominant personality of any person as illuminated below. This means that we often do not take into consideration all four dominant characteristics that define the personality of a human being, namely; physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. [For an in-depth discussion of the four attributes of the personality of a human being, we encourage you to visit and buy your copy of True Love and lasting Relationships: The Four Secret Keys Revealed]

To the uninitiated, the one physical attribute that usually form the basis of their first impression of another is skin color. Of course, we all know that the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye is the color spectrum or visible light or all colors. It follows that the notion that Black is the absence of color is based on a false premise. A part cannot be the absence of the whole because the part has no independent existence from the whole otherwise it would not be a part. Essentially, when a human sees another for the first seconds of an encounter, only the light or aura of the other person should be visible during those first seconds. Unfortunately, most of us completely miss this phenomenon because of built-in environmental filters. Not surprisingly then, skin color too often becomes the dominant window as  to how some perceive, judge and reason.

So when we are reminded that "Black life matters" the initial reaction of some is to neither admit nor deny an accepted truism, black life matters. Instead, these people resort to the banalization of the powerful phrase, "All life matters" without recognizing that they have basically affirmed that by definition "black life matters too." To say all life matters, we admit that the life of every person in the racial color spectrum matters because 'all" includes the entire racial color spectrum, every color, each color and the color of every person. We essentially affirm that White, Black, Yellow, Brown, Red, Blue, Green, etc., all human life matters.

Hence, the statement that "Anyone who says Black life matters is inherently racist" is logically incoherent, or a prominent exhibition of ignorance, or intellectually dishonest, or an expression of another reality. This other reality would stand for the proposition that all human life matters, excluding Black or some other color of the human racial color spectrum. Any definition of all human life matters that excludes any color of the human racial color spectrum or is limited to only a certain color or colors but not all racial colors is racist.

The American Heritage dictionary defines inherent as, "Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic" and inherently expresses a predisposition to exhibit inherent characteristics. In effect, proponents of the view that advocates of Black life matters are inherently racist, conjecture that these advocates were born racists. No one is born inherently racist. Racism is a learned or an acquired belief from environmental factors, including education or lack thereof, and not innate. The very notion that anyone can subscribe to such a view in the 21st century is alarming and serve as a constant reminder to humanity that there are still those who judge others merely by the color of their skin.

The same dictionary defines racist as a person who holds to the "belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others." Not only has this belief been discredited, but America rejected this belief more than three hundred years ago. Any person who thinks advocates of Black life matters are inherently racist simply does not understand human nature and the very meaning of all human life matters. Of course, the other reality is that anyone who thinks or believes that advocates of Black life matters are inherently racist is in search of a subterfuge for continued propagation of discrimination or prejudice based on race.

The continued evolution of mankind towards perfection is the insurance that collectively we must understand that all human life matters because we "are a collection of very unique individuals of the racial spectrum, each with something special to offer to the world to make it a better place for all of us." [Quote by contributor, Jeffrey Hayduk]


Poverty is a human created condition borne out of ignorance and greed. A condition[1] is characterized by circumstances affecting a particular state of being. In this context, the particular state of being is the material wellbeing of any person anywhere in the world. No individual is born materially poor or rich. We do recognize that some are born into environments susceptible to the poverty condition. However, even in some of these instances, some individuals have developed counter measures against this condition, while others, regrettably, accept the poverty condition as a part of their so-called fate. When this unfortunate acceptance (culture) of fate occurs, the individual is thrust into the poverty condition and the resulting deprivations.

We recognize that the condition known as poverty has been long standing and readily recognizable worldwide. However, since poverty is a human created condition, then it must follow that poverty is preventable, manageable and maybe can even be totally eradicated. Hence, various efforts are being made to confront this condition, but even so poverty seems to be on the rise[2] This conclusion brings us to a brief discussion of "Matter and Dalton's Law of Conservation of Mass and Definite or constant Proportion"

Matter is generally defined as "Physical substance, as distinct from mind, spirit and energy;[3] which occupies space and possesses mass in a state of rest." Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. From this observation, Dalton surmised the Law of Conservation of Mass and Definite or constant Proportion. In its basic formulation, "no detectable gain or loss in mass occurs in chemical reactions" even though the state of a substance may change in a chemical reaction as a result of energy transfer between atoms and their environment. Secondly, the elements in a given compound (matter) are always combined in the same proportion by mass. From these formulations, we agree with the conclusion that any combination of a ton of matter produces an equivalent ton of mass (solid, gas and liquid) because matter is indestructible. Since matter is indestructible, it follows that the level of worldwide sustainable resources cannot be completely exhausted. In effect, we may drill and harvest all of the crude oil in the world, but we cannot destroy the quantity of world oil reserve without converting it into other forms of matter. To be sure, we may reduce the volume of crude oil reserves, but we cannot destroy it because we have simply converted it to other forms of matter. ,

Symptoms as Justification

This same principle applies to the world's food supply. Not only is there enough food to feed the world's population, but the indestructible nature of matter means we have the capacity to cultivate, grow and supply enough food to feed every human on earth. Simply put, matter is self-generating and self-conserving. As such, the explanations given for the persistence of poverty address the symptoms and not the root cause of the condition.
There are two prevailing schools of thoughts in the efforts to address poverty. Proponents of absolute poverty maintain that a measure of the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter provides the indices to solving poverty. On the other hand, advocates of the relative poverty see poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society. According to this school of thought, people are poor if they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context. The problem with both approaches is that they are limited to or mostly concerned with what (income) and how much (consumption) and not the why of poverty.

An emerging trend is the so-called "concept of social exclusion." The rational here is an attempt to incorporate important social and cultural needs of an individual. The suggestion is that by incorporating three perspectives; (1) the income perspective, a person is poor only if his or her income is below the country's poverty line; (2) the basic needs perspective includes the need for the provision by a community of the basic social services necessary to prevent individuals from falling into poverty; and (3) the capability (or empowerment) perspective suggests that poverty signify a lack of some basic capability to function[4] as reasons for poverty, such as the roles of culture, power, social structure and other factors largely out of the control of the individual. Although the "concept of social exclusion" makes a concerted effort to explain some facet of the why of the condition poverty, it does so through proving or reliance on the negative.

This list of factors contribution to and reduction of worldwide poverty are fully documented and exhaustively explored elsewhere.[5] However, in this author's opinion, the factors, contentions or explanations are symptoms driven. For example, while it may be true that an increase in population exerts an increase demand for food, it does not follow that the increase population caused the hunger. The fact remains that most still have food while a few do not.

Real Causes of Poverty

Although we recognize the importance of incorporating the symptoms of poverty into mitigation strategies to alleviate the poverty condition, we submit that there are basically two fundamental causes of poverty; namely, ignorance and greed. A holistic conceptual view of ignorance and greed may be classified as internal/individual versus external/societal limitations. We know that hunger triggers the desire to eat food. That desire compels the individual to seek to acquire food either from their own farm or purchase from others. The ignorant individual may go without eating because he does not know how to farm or claims to have no money. In point of fact, he could have offered his labor to the farmer in exchange for a ration of food. Herein lies the importance of real education.

Of course, the individual in our example could have offered his services to the farmer for a food ration or pay or both. However, the farmer might have decided to give him less than agreed because of better market price offerings. Better yet, the farmer could control a significant majority of the farms and markets and thus decides to charge higher prices for the food products. This outcome is invariably, an artificially created caused by greed. Thus, any formulation of solutions to combat poverty, must necessarily include the containment or minimization of ignorance and greed.

Simon W Tache

[1] Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2d ed. 360, (2003)

[2] Smelser, N. J. and Baltes, P. B. (eds.) International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Elsevier. Oxford Science Ltd. (2001)

[3] Supra, Note 1 at 1084

[4] Benjamin, Solomon (1993) Urban Productivity From the Grass Roots,

Third World Planning, 15(2) pp. 142 -157.

[5] Literature Review on Poverty Reduction Strategies Aimed at the Very Poor;