The Political Economy of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria




1.1 Background to the Study

The return to democracy in Nigeria in May, 1999, brought hopes of development and political stability to Nigeria. The last decade in Nigeria has experienced an increase in violent, conflicts and criminality, which tended to undermine those expectations. The violence and criminality have come in the form of armed robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, terrorism, human trafficking and militancy, among other acts of criminality that undermine national security. Internal security has been significantly undercut by violent activities of civilian-in-arms against the Nigerian State. These have included radicalized religious and regional youth groups, prominent among which are the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), O’Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), the Arewa People’s Congress (APC), Bakassi Boys, Egbesu Boys, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and more recently, Boko Haram, Ansaru, ‘Kala-Kato’, and Ombatse, among others (Onuoha, 2012: 134-151). Taking cognizance to the above assertion, it is very noteworthy in the scheme of politics or as far as the plethora of roles bothering around government is concerned that the primary or most germane function which every government seek to accentuate as even enshrined in the Nigeria 1999 constitution, is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens. Sequel to this, national security threat is a major issue for the government of today and it has prompted huge allocation of the national budget to security. In order to ameliorate the incidence of crime, the federal government in its quest has embarked on criminalization of terrorism by passing the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011, installation of Computer-based Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) in some parts of the country, enhancement of surveillance as well as investigation of criminal related offences, heightening of physical security measures around the country aimed at deterring or disrupting potential attacks, strengthening of security agencies through the provision of security facilities and the development and broadcast of security tips on the mass media (Azazi, 2011). Despite these efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still high. In addition, Nigeria has consistently ranked low in the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2012), signifying a worsened state of insecurity in the country. Hence, Adagba, et al (2012), Uhunmwuangho and Aluforo (2011) are of the view that the efforts of government have not yielded enough positive result.

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With the lingering security challenges and the inability of the security apparatus of the government to guarantee safety and security in the country, the question that baffles everyone in Nigeria today is that “can there be security?” Is security of lives and properties achievable? Apparently, the security situation in Nigeria appears or at least have remained insurmountable and many people have argued that government at all levels have not done enough by not confronting the situation head on and dealing with it decisively, others have argued that the situation has a political undertone or inclination calculated to serve the interest of certain political gods, who have been dissatisfied and disgruntled about the political manifestations in the country. Also Madunagu (2001:51) maintains that terrorism is “the use of violence to achieve political objectives”. The bottom line of the above definitions is that terrorism is an aspect of political violence. Since September 11, 2001, multiple attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and pentagon in the United States of America, has made terrorist laden groups or caucus such as the Boko Haram, to become a household of discussion in the world today.

Nigeria as a nation-state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has social, economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation‘s stability, and can be traced to the ethnic militia armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, terrorism, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage, and environmental degradation (Ilufoye, 2009).

More so, Boko Haram insurgence has become the major problem facing Nigerians in the recent time. These groups have orchestrated several bombing that have killed millions of innocent citizens of the country and also caused the destruction of both private and public properties worth of billions of naira. This derives from their bid to make people in the North East geo-political zone of Nigeria to embrace their view on Islamic Nigeria code.

The predominant threat and security challenges in the area are emendating from un-abating attacks on Nigerian citizens, individuals, public and governmental installations, kidnapping and destruction of properties. All these umbrella of effects immersed in Boko Haram operations have signaled serious crimes against the Nigeria state, which has threatened its national security and socio-economic activities. This has also posed a great challenge to the ground strategy for national security of which the primary aim is to strengthen the Federal Republic of Nigeria to advance her interest and objectives, to contain instability, control crime, quality of life of every citizens, improve the welfare and the eliminate corruption (Damba-zau 2007:51).

Boko Haram activities, has fundamentally dethroned socio-economic activities by Increased crime and destruction of both lives and properties of Nigeria citizens. This can be attested to by the mass movement of people living in the Northern part of the country most especially Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno State. This situation has made it impossible for the citizens in that part to effectively carry out their legitimate businesses. It has also unabatedly led to scaring foreign investors out of the country. Students have been forced to flee their schools as the gravity of the crisis. This has made some government to vow never to allow Nigerian students from their state to go to the Northern part of Nigeria for anything. In vitality, the activities of the sect has also effected the posting of students of Southern and Eastern extradition on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to the North, to the extent that parents are strongly resisting the posting of their children as Corpers to the North.

In a bid to concentrate Boko Haram within the walls of implication, her existence can be viewed as a fatal blow to the noble objective of the scheme, as a unifying strategy such as Nation-building. The unity of Nigeria is seriously threatened by the activities of Boko Haram fundamentalist sect and therefore, considered to be a major potential terrorist threat affecting the great and strategic territorial shores of Nigeria mostly on the part of her Political economy potency being questioned. Thus, if this is not curbed to its barest level, the bond and integration dream as visible and cherished by her dead or past heroes will not see the light of reality, i.e. in vain.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Although scholarly works on the Boko Haram phenomenon is mushrooming, there is yet a paucity of compelling scholarship on the socio-economic determinants or indices with sheer consent of the economic origins of the crisis and also with strict reference to the nature of Nigerian political economy. Thus, considering the motley of prevailing opinions which sometimes contradictory as far as the impetus for Boko Haram terrorism is concerned, the efficacy of policy response (either soft or hard) in long term rests on a well informed understanding of the causal factors of which socio-economic conditions are crucial. In essence, an in-depth and robust investigation that can positively influence policies geared towards deterring unwholesome socio-economic manifestations in Nigeria as a whole is expedient. Indeed, the better the issue is understood the more efficacious would be policy aimed at combating not just Boko Haram terrorism but also other like-minded individuals or groups that might arise in the future due to the deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of Nigerians. Hence, this study seek to investigate primarily how the lack of basic necessities of life induces terrorism, interrogate the political economy implications as well as the strategies employed in addressing the menace piloted by the sect.

1.3 Objective of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine the political economy of Boko haram insurgency. Specifically, the study aims to:

  1. Examine the social, political, and economic impact of Boko Haram insurgency
  2. Investigate the measures, programs, or services are available to help people residing in Borno State who have been exposed to Boko Haram attacks cope with the consequences of experiencing the insurgency

1.5 Research Questions

The study will sought to answer the following research questions (RQs): 1. What is the social, political, and economic impact of Boko Haram insurgency on the people residing in Borno State in Nigeria?

  1. What measures, programs, or services are available to help people residing in Borno State who have been exposed to Boko Haram attacks cope with the consequences of experiencing the insurgency?

1.6 Significance to the Study

All individual lives in a world prone to crisis. No nation is free from crisis. Violence is now endemic in human relations. The global threat of terrorism respect no boundaries or borders. Nigeria is not free from these threats, emanating from Boko Haram activities. Therefore, the debating questions will be:

  1. What is the nature of this threat?
  2. Have the security agencies handled the situation well?
  3. What have gone wrong with the strategy employed?
  4. How should government respond to these recent terrorist bombing?
  5. Can militaristic approach without more work, work?
  6. Are there lessons to be leant in the ways other countries handle such threat?

This research work will attempt to answer these questions, and build up relevant literatures on Islamist fundamental, and contributes to academic, professional and security at large as it enlightens, develops and informs citizens and government of the reoccurring activities of domestic terrorists and making of possible ways for policy makers to strategize measures to handle the conflict in Nigeria.

Beyond serving as an addition to already existing literature, it will serve as a practical guide for those in the field of criminal investigation departments, anti- terrorism or counter insurgence et cetera.

This study is thereby motivated by strong desire to contribute to the ranging dissolution, its socio-economic implication on Nigeria‘s development. It is therefore, hoped that this study will be relevant and of benefits to the students and scholars of political science, history, intelligent and security studies and the society at large.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The scope will cover the extent of political economic effects orchestrated by the Boko Haram sect with close attention to the North-Eastern region of Nigeria since it is said to be the stronghold of the sect. it also investigate within the time frame of 2009-2014. The justification of this scope and period is also because the activities of Boko Haram rose to its peak and the examining of efforts made by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan at combating Boko Haram’s violent operations.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

The main limitation for this research rests on my inability to have real and first-hand interviews with current or even former members of Boko Haram. This is hinged to the fact that Boko Haram is still an on-going threat and as such going to the Northern part of Nigeria remains a big risk. In lieu, this is justified due to the level of academic programme through which this study is being carried out. Another basic limitation rests on the collection and availability of data especially with regards to Boko Haram attacks. While some of the sites are locked and others have some earlier information removed, there was also the grave limitation posed by inaccuracy by different sources (news outfits) with regards to an attack or the number of dead or injured. Future researchers should however coin out modalities in order to see through the eyes of insurgents and terrorists. By this, I mean, having interviews with insurgents to personally hear why they do what they do.

Hence, despite financial problem, hindrance and shortcoming the research work will definitely come to accomplishment.

1.9 Definitions of terms

The operational definitions provide context and meaning for the major terms used in this study.

Boko Haram: A fundamental Islamic terrorist group that has been active in Nigeria, particularly in the northeast axis of the country, since 2009 and seeks to impose Sharia law in the entire Northern States of Nigeria.

Corruption: An abuse of entrusted power for one’s game (Transparency International, 2014). Corruption affects everyone who depends on the integrity of people in authority. It encompasses dishonest and illegal acts and abuse of position of trust and authority by public servants, administrators, and business leaders (Transparency International, 2014).

Insecurity: The feeling of uncertainty and lack of confidence as a result of the combination of different factors that contribute to conflicts, and eventually to the destruction of lives and properties (Ewetan, 2014).

Insurgency: An armed movement or struggle that is intended to overthrow an existing government using a variety of violent and nonviolent tactics that include drawing support and sympathy from an acquiescent population in a weak state fractured along ethnic and sectarian cleavages (Carrol, 2012; Mackinlay, 2002).

Sustainable development: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission Report, 1987, p. 16).

Terrorism: The use of violence and intimidation intentionally and indiscriminately by a group or an individual to cause and create fear, death, or destruction on others in pursuit of political aim (Sampson & Onuoha, 2011).



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