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Foreign Aid and the Fight Against Terrorism in Nigeria: 2013—2023



This study employed a quantitative survey research design to investigate the impacts of foreign aid on Nigeria’s fight against terrorism. A structured questionnaire was meticulously designed to collect numerical data, aligning with the study’s objective to examine the extent of the impacts of foreign aid. The target population comprised 120 respondents, and a convenient sampling technique was adopted to select participants who were readily accessible and willing to participate. Data collection involved the distribution of questionnaires, specifically designed to measure the perceived impacts of foreign aid, the effectiveness of government strategies, and the challenges encountered in combating terrorism. Primary data were collected and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 27. SPSS provided a robust platform for quantitative data analysis, including the application of a t-test to test the hypotheses. The hypotheses tested were framed around the notions that the Nigerian government did not receive sufficient foreign aid, the strategies adopted were ineffective, and the challenges encountered had serious negative effects on counterterrorism efforts. The t-test, with an assumed mean of 0 and a critical table value of 2.92 at a 5% level of significance, was employed to assess the statistical significance of the findings. The results indicated significant relationships between the variables, providing insights into the impacts of foreign aid, the effectiveness of government strategies, and the challenges faced in countering terrorism. Findings revealed that foreign aid significantly contributed to reducing terrorist activities, and strategies adopted by the government improved Nigeria’s capacity to counter terrorist threats. However, concerns were raised about the questionable and unclear impact of foreign aid, highlighting the need for further investigation. In conclusion, the study sheds light on the multifaceted dynamics of foreign aid, government strategies, and challenges in the context of counterterrorism efforts in Nigeria. The results contribute valuable insights to the existing body of knowledge, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation, resource adequacy, and strategic effectiveness in combating terrorism. Recommendations include enhancing international collaboration, allocating adequate resources, and continually refining government strategies. These insights could inform policy decisions aimed at fortifying Nigeria’s efforts in mitigating the threat of terrorism, contributing to the broader discourse on global security and cooperation.




Background to the Study

In recent times, the world has witnessed a substantial increase in the threat to global security and world peace, largely stemming from the actions of various terrorist groups (Adeyemi, 2020; Agbese, 2017; Halperin, 2022). This issue, well-documented by scholars, underscores the significant challenges faced by the international community. Terrorism, while not a novel concern in the realm of international relations, has taken on new dimensions in the post-Cold War era, emerging as a global phenomenon fraught with dire consequences (Bacewich, 2018).

The impact of terrorism on global security is underscored by the alarming statistics reflecting the magnitude of casualties resulting from terrorist attacks worldwide (Tanzi, 2018). The sheer scale of human suffering and loss of life has sent shockwaves throughout almost every region. These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the far-reaching implications of terrorism, transcending geographical boundaries and profoundly affecting diverse societies and cultures.

The post-Cold War world has undergone a radical transformation, largely due to the increasing influence of terrorism. One of the most pivotal moments in the global response to terrorism was the infamous September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. These catastrophic events, as discussed by scholars such as Charmaz and Mitchell (2021), served as a watershed moment that reshaped the international landscape. The world watched in horror as the United States, a symbol of global power and stability, became the target of a terrorist organisation, resulting in significant loss of life and immeasurable repercussions for international relations.

The aftermath of these events, notably the 9/11 attacks, prompted nations and international bodies to rethink their approaches to counterterrorism efforts. The need for enhanced cooperation, intelligence sharing, and the development of more robust counterterrorism strategies became evident. Furthermore, it highlighted the urgency of addressing the root causes of terrorism, including socioeconomic disparities, political grievances, and ideological extremism (Charmaz & Mitchell, 2021). The post-9/11 era marked a pivotal shift in how the world perceives and combats terrorism, underlining the necessity of a multifaceted and coordinated global response.

In essence, the emergence of terrorism as a global phenomenon, as illuminated by scholars and experts in the field, has had profound and far-reaching implications for global security and world peace (Bacewich, 2018). It has forced the international community to confront the multifaceted nature of this threat and adapt its strategies to address the evolving tactics of terrorist groups. The scale and consequences of terrorism cannot be understated, necessitating a unified and comprehensive response that transcends national borders and emphasizes the importance of cooperation among nations and international organizations (Charmaz & Mitchell, 2021). The events of September 11, 2001, serve as a poignant reminder of the need for constant vigilance and collaboration in the pursuit of global security and the preservation of world peace.

Before the watershed moment of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Africa had already experienced the harrowing impact of terrorism in the late 1990s. Notable incidents occurred in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where terrorist attacks took a devastating toll on human lives and property (Garb & Malešič, 2016; Sändig, 2015). These early incidents signified the continent’s vulnerability to terrorism and set the stage for more profound security challenges in subsequent years.

Presently, the African continent faces a multitude of security threats from various terrorist groups, with over six of these organizations operating not only within Nigeria but also in neighbouring countries like Cameroon, Chad, and Niger (Amao & Maiangwa, 2017). The region’s susceptibility to these groups has created a complex security landscape characterized by numerous fronts and challenges.

One of the most transformative events in Nigeria’s security history was the emergence of Boko Haram in the northern region of the country. The rise of this extremist group, as highlighted by Fadare (2021), marked a significant turning point in Nigeria’s security landscape. Boko Haram’s activities, marked by relentless violence and ideological extremism, have had severe consequences for the nation. The group’s attacks have resulted in countless casualties and inflicted substantial economic losses, with the ripple effects felt across various sectors of Nigerian society (Cannon & Iyekekpolo, 2018).

In addition to the menacing presence of Boko Haram, numerous other terrorist groups, such as Al-Shabaab, ISIS affiliates, and factions linked to Al-Qaeda, have found a foothold in Nigeria and neighbouring African nations. Operating within an environment characterized by instability and insecurity, these groups contribute significantly to the region’s intricate security challenges (Ogwu, 2019). The complex interplay among Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, ISIS affiliates, and Al-Qaeda-linked factions not only poses a direct threat to the lives of countless individuals but also undermines economic development and political stability in the affected countries.

Consequently, the rise of terrorism, particularly the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, has significantly altered the country’s security landscape. The devastating consequences of terrorist activities extend beyond human casualties to encompass economic losses, social upheaval, and displacement of communities. Moreover, the presence of multiple terrorist groups in the region emphasizes the need for comprehensive and coordinated counterterrorism efforts (Ogwu, 2019). This situation underscores the necessity of international support and cooperation in the pursuit of sustainable security solutions for Nigeria and its neighbouring nations. The multifaceted nature of these security challenges necessitates an approach that addresses both the symptoms and root causes, with the ultimate aim of restoring stability and peace to the region.

The activities of the Boko Haram sect have inflicted profound and far-reaching consequences upon Nigeria, as documented by Human Rights Watch (2018). The methods employed by the group are characterized by extreme violence and include suicide bombings, the deployment of explosive devices, kidnappings for ransom, and hostage-taking (Abdulazeez & Oriola, 2018). These tactics have culminated in a staggering death toll, with over 100,000 lives lost to their acts of terror (Amao & Maiangwa, 2017).

In addition to the tragic loss of life, Boko Haram’s relentless attacks have led to the displacement of approximately 400,000 individuals, leaving them without homes and livelihoods. Furthermore, the economic impact of the group’s activities is profound, resulting in property damage estimated at over $9 billion, as highlighted by Betts (2021). This economic devastation reverberates through various sectors, contributing to financial instability and undermining efforts to foster development and prosperity in the affected areas (Pyman et al., 2019).

The consequences of Boko Haram’s actions extend beyond the immediate human and economic toll. A key aspect of the impact is the disruption of education, notably in the Northeast region of Nigeria. These attacks have prompted the closure of schools and have hindered the educational progress of countless children and young adults (Iwuoha, 2019). The resultant educational setbacks have broader implications for the future, affecting human capital development and opportunities for the younger generation.

Furthermore, the conflict has resulted in significant economic instability within the region, as underscored by the work of Pyman et al. (2019). Economic livelihoods have been disrupted, local businesses have faced severe challenges, and the operations of multinationals in the affected areas have been constrained. These economic ramifications compound the difficulties faced by local communities and their residents.

Perhaps one of the most distressing consequences of the ongoing crisis is the humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded. The conflict has precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis, as documented by Onapajo (2020). Displacement, loss of homes, and the disruption of livelihoods have left many individuals and families in dire need of assistance, including food, shelter, and medical care.

The gravity of the situation prompted President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to actively seek foreign assistance in combating terrorism, as highlighted by Maclean and Alfa (2021). Recognizing the insufficiency of domestic efforts in addressing the escalating terrorism in Northern Nigeria, the government recognized the need for international collaboration, particularly with neighbouring countries (Bland, 2019).

In response to this realization, the Nigerian government took a decisive step by announcing its plans to establish collaborative efforts with neighbouring nations. This commitment to regional cooperation was pivotal in addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by terrorist groups operating across borders. As a result of this determination, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) was established, and its formation received the official approval of the African Union in 2015 (Abrahamson, 2019).

The creation of the MNJTF was a significant milestone in the regional fight against terrorism. It demonstrated a commitment to shared security concerns and a collective approach to mitigating the cross-border threats posed by various extremist groups. This multinational collaboration brought together not only military resources but also intelligence sharing, enhancing the collective capacity to counter the activities of terrorist organizations.

The MNJTF’s establishment underscores the imperative of regional cooperation in addressing contemporary security challenges. The African Union’s endorsement further affirmed the importance of this initiative as a means of preserving peace and stability in the region. Through collaborative efforts and a unified approach, it became possible to address the root causes of terrorism and enhance the security environment across national boundaries.

The United States has emerged as a pivotal ally in the collective efforts to combat terrorism in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries, as highlighted by Bakare (2018). This collaboration has taken various forms, including financial aid, training, and equipment provision, with the United States making a substantial investment in the fight against Boko Haram.

Financial assistance has been a cornerstone of the U.S. contribution to counterterrorism endeavours in the region, with Blanchard (2016) providing insight into the extensive financial support. The U.S. has dedicated a considerable sum, exceeding $400 million, to counter Boko Haram. This funding has been instrumental in reinforcing the capabilities of security forces and bolstering the infrastructure necessary to combat the terrorist group effectively.

In addition to financial aid, the United States has played a pivotal role in enhancing the military capabilities of Nigeria and its regional partners, as emphasized by Feaver (2023). Training programs and equipment provisions have been integral components of this effort. These initiatives aimed to bolster the technical and operational proficiency of the Nigerian military, as well as its regional collaborators, in their counterterrorism operations.

Furthermore, the U.S. has deployed troops to the region to provide critical support. Levy (2022) underlines the presence of U.S. troops in the area, contributing to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts against Boko Haram. This deployment has facilitated the gathering of essential information and monitoring of the situation on the ground, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism operations.

Statement of Problem

The contemporary international landscape has been marred by a menacing threat to global security and world peace, stemming from the ruthless activities of terrorist groups (Adeyemi, 2020; Agbese, 2017; Halperin, 2022). Terrorism, while not an entirely novel phenomenon in the annals of international relations, assumed an unprecedented and horrifying dimension following the conclusion of the Cold War (Bacewich, 2018). This transformation has endowed terrorism with the status of a global scourge, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale.

The magnitude of the issue is brought into stark relief when one delves into the statistics concerning casualties from terrorist attacks worldwide, painting a chilling picture of the devastation wrought by this global menace (Tanzi, 2018). It is an affliction that knows no boundaries, casting a dark shadow of insecurity over almost every corner of the world. This malevolent form of violence took centre stage in the post-Cold War world, reshaping the international landscape and leaving an indelible mark, with the infamous September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States serving as a watershed moment in this terrifying narrative (Charmaz & Mitchell, 2021).

However, even before the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001, the African continent had already been acquainted with the scourge of terrorism in the late ’90s, notably in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Garb & Malešič, 2016; Sändig, 2015). Tragically, the menace has persisted, with over six terrorist groups operating across Nigeria and its neighbouring nations, including Cameroon, Chad, and Niger (Amao & Maiangwa, 2017). But perhaps the most devastating chapter of this sinister narrative unfolded with the emergence of the Boko Haram sect in the northern region of Nigeria.

Boko Haram’s reign of terror has ushered in a profound transformation in Nigeria’s security landscape, marking a paramount concern for the nation (Fadare, 2021). The group’s malevolent activities have exacted a heavy toll, both in terms of human lives and economic repercussions (Cannon & Iyekekpolo, 2018). The group, since the demise of its founding leader, Mohammed Yusuf, has unleashed an exponential surge in attacks, employing harrowing tactics that encompass suicide bombings, the deployment of explosive devices, kidnapping for ransom, and hostage-taking. The devastating consequences of these actions have translated into over 100,000 lives lost, with a staggering 400,000 people displaced, and property and investments worth over $9 billion obliterated (Agency Report, 2017).

These attacks have not only left a trail of death and destruction but have also sowed the seeds of socioeconomic instability and humanitarian crises (Betts, 2021). Communities have been upended, schools shuttered indefinitely, businesses languishing in dormancy, multinationals closing their offices, and small-scale enterprises teetering on the brink. Poverty has deepened, particularly in the crisis-ridden Northeast, where the tentacles of terrorism have strangulated economic and social life (Iyekekpolo, 2020).

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration felt compelled to seek foreign assistance in the fight against terrorism (Maclean & Alfa, 2021). Scholars have underscored that the escalation of terrorism in the North was indicative of the inadequacy of the government’s efforts in combatting this menace (Bland, 2019). In response to these challenges, the Nigerian government took the step of announcing its intention to forge international collaborations with neighbouring countries, specifically Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, to assemble a unified front against terrorism. This visionary endeavour culminated in the formation of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), endorsed by the African Union on March 3, 2015, and substantiated by an agreement for intelligence sharing between Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The primary impetus for this joint effort was the abduction of the Chibok Girls in Nigeria in 2014, galvanizing the four nations to fortify border security (Abrahamson, 2019).

To augment the fight against terrorism, the United States has been at the forefront of assisting Nigeria and its regional allies, notably Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. Through mechanisms like the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF), and various security assistance programs, the United States has contributed more than $400 million to counter Boko Haram (Iroanusi, 2020). These efforts have encompassed comprehensive training and the provision of equipment, substantially enhancing the capacities of the Nigerian military and its regional counterparts (Feaver, 2023). Furthermore, the presence of U.S. troops in the region has played a pivotal role in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations against Boko Haram, intensifying efforts to counter the terrorist group (Levy, 2022). The commitment of the United States, coupled with international partnerships, underscores the significance of collective endeavours in tackling the global challenge of terrorism (Blanchard, 2016).

Objectives of the Study

This study has the following objectives:

  1. To examine the extent of the impacts of foreign aid to the Nigerian government in fighting terrorism in Nigeria.
  2. To analyze the strategies adopted by the Nigerian government in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
  3. To examine the challenges encountered by the Nigerian government in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

Research Questions

The research questions guiding this study are as follows:

  1. To what extent does foreign aid impact the fight against terrorism in Nigeria?
  2. How have the strategies adopted by the Nigerian government in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria yielded positive results?
  3. What is the nature of the challenges the Nigerian government encountered in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria?

Research Assumptions

The study operates under the following assumptions:

  1. The Nigerian government did not receive sufficient foreign aid needed to fight terrorism in Nigeria.
  2. The strategies adopted by the Nigerian government in the fight against terrorism were ineffective.
  3. The challenges enccountered by the Nigerian government in combating terrorism in Nigeria had serious negative effects on the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

Significance of the Study

The significance of this study examining the fight against terrorism in Nigeria transcends its immediate scope, bearing implications that resonate on both national and international levels. Understanding the complexities of Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts is of paramount importance, as it provides insights into addressing not only the security challenges in the region but also contributes to the global fight against terrorism. The following sections outline the multifaceted significance of this study.

Nigeria, as one of the most populous and resource-rich countries in Africa, plays a pivotal role in the continent’s stability and development. The impact of terrorism, particularly the activities of Boko Haram, extends beyond the loss of life and property; it threatens the nation’s unity, economic progress, and overall stability. By delving into the intricacies of Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts, this study offers a valuable resource for policymakers, security agencies, and government officials to better understand the challenges and formulate effective strategies to combat terrorism. This, in turn, contributes to safeguarding Nigeria’s national security and promoting social cohesion.

The humanitarian crisis stemming from terrorism in Nigeria is a significant concern, particularly in the Northeast region. Displaced populations, disrupted education, economic instability, and social unrest are dire consequences of terrorist activities. An in-depth analysis of these issues, as this study provides, is crucial for humanitarian organizations and international agencies to tailor their assistance effectively. Furthermore, by addressing the root causes of terrorism and its socioeconomic repercussions, policymakers can work toward long-term stability and development, thus mitigating future security threats.

Nigeria’s fight against terrorism extends beyond its borders. The presence of terrorist groups operating in neighbouring countries underscores the need for regional collaboration. The establishment of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) with the support of the African Union is a significant step towards regional cooperation. This study sheds light on the dynamics of such collaborative efforts, offering lessons and best practices that can be applied in other regions dealing with transnational terrorist threats. Furthermore, the study highlights the role of international partners, such as the United States, in assisting Nigeria and its neighbours, emphasizing the importance of global cooperation in addressing terrorism.

As terrorism is a global phenomenon, Nigeria’s experiences in counterterrorism can provide valuable insights for the development of broader counterterrorism strategies. By examining the successes and shortcomings of Nigeria’s efforts, the study contributes to the global discourse on effective counterterrorism approaches. Lessons learned from Nigeria can inform international efforts to combat terrorism, enhancing the efficacy of counterterrorism policies and interventions worldwide.

Academically, this study adds to the existing body of research on counterterrorism, security studies, and international relations. It provides a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s experiences and the evolving nature of terrorism in the region. Researchers, scholars, and students in these fields can draw from this study to further their understanding of the subject, explore new research questions, and build upon the findings presented here.

Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the period between 2013 and 2023 and primarily examines the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, with a special emphasis on the impact of foreign aid. The geographical scope encompasses Nigeria and its neighbouring countries involved in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), such as Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The study primarily explores the efforts to combat Boko Haram and related terrorist groups in the region.

Operational Definition of Terms

Foreign Aid: Financial, material, or technical assistance provided by foreign governments, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations to support a recipient country’s development or security needs.

Terrorism: The use of violence or the threat of violence, often with political or ideological motivations, to instil fear, intimidate, or coerce a population or government.

Boko Haram: A radical Islamist terrorist group based in northeastern Nigeria, known for its extremist ideology and violent attacks on civilians, government institutions, and security forces.

Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF): A regional military coalition comprising troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin, formed to combat Boko Haram and other terrorist groups operating in the Lake Chad Basin region.

Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF): A U.S. government program aimed at assisting partner countries to address security challenges, including counterterrorism efforts.

Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF): A U.S. government funding mechanism designed to support partner nations in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

Counterthreat Finance Training: Training programs that aim to disrupt the financial networks and resources of terrorist organizations.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR): Activities involving the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information, often carried out for military or security purposes.



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