Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview
For one to fully appreciate why insurgency thrives so well in Nigeria in general and northern Nigeria, would be prudent to look at the history of Nigeria and especially the North of the country where Boko Haram originates from. Nigeria has more people in its citizenship than any other African country. It is located in West Africa between Cameroon and Benin and bordering the Gulf of Guinea. The countries population is split down the middle between Muslims and Christians. Nigeria has the continents second largest economy and is the largest oil producer south of the Sahara. Nigeria is also the West African region commercial and political center.
Although Nigeria has acted as the West African stabilizing force, the constant violence pitting Muslims on one side and Christians on the other has had a very destabilizing effect at home for a long time especially in central Nigeria. However, the emergence of Boko Haram which is a radical Islamic group in the 2000s threatens to introduce a dogmatic element into the violence such as has not been witnessed in the past. With the group’s ability to network with another Islamic radical group such as al-Qaida and ISIS, Boko Haram look poised to can remain a destabilizing factor in Nigeria and neighboring countries for a long time.
Boko Haram under the leadership of Mohammed Yusuf was founded in the year 2002-2003 in Borno state. At the time it was a peripheral Sunni prayer group. Boko Haram was broadly a peaceful movement in the early years, and the government mostly left it alone. The group even built a religious complex that housed a school where children from low-income families could go to school and a mosque. The movement later expanded to the states of Niger, Bauchi, and Yobe. Yusuf attempted to introduce Sharia laws in several of the northern states, and by 2008, the group had begun using more militant tactics and amassing weapons.
When an encounter with the police turned violent in 2009, the group was extremely enraged by the tactics that the police used that they viewed as heavy-handedness and this resulted in the five-day armed uprising that spread to the state of Kano (Abimbola 12-29). The crackdown killed many people and led to the capture of Yusuf and numerous Boko Haram members who were promptly executed.
After this, the group went underground, during which it changed into an armed military group under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau who was more radical than the predecessor. The group has progressively embraced the schemes used by international Jihadi terrorist organizations that comprise kidnapping and hostage taking, deployment of improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings and targeted assassinations.
Drives and Grumbles
Despite Boko Haram’s philosophy being defined by the use of religious terms, worldly grumbles largely inspire the group. After Mohammed Yusuf was killed, a longing has mainly driven the leadership of Boko Haram to extract reprisal against mainstream Islamic leadership, politicians and the police who they blame for attempts to subdue the group. Certain group of Boko Haram members asserts that their principal motivation is the certainty that northern Nigeria political elite cooperate with a government that is Christian-dominated to enrich themselves in disregard of the Muslim community and are therefore false Muslims.
The group also blames the decline of the Muslim north to the influence of the western countries that have fostered corruption of the Nigerian politics, education, and society. Just like the Jihadi groups before them, Boko Haram trusts that loyalty to Sharia law would be able to solve the problems that the Nigerian society encounters like inequity and poverty (Osumah 536-560). Scholars hold that Boko Haram is inspired by both religion and inter-ethnic disagreements
Undeniably, the Kanuri ethnic group that was once powerful and ruled the Kanuri-Borno Empire in northern Nigeria, the source of most of Boko Haram members is today economically and politically marginalized. The Kanuris blame the preponderance Fulani-Hausas ethnic group, where most of the northern economic and political elite come from, of corruption and discrimination. Over the years, however, Boko Haram has looked to tone down the inter-ethnic element, since they need to recruit widely and enjoy a larger base. Instead, they assert that it is entirely a religious war between Muslim and non-Muslims and it is neither a war for financial gains nor a tribal war.
Book Haram Goals
Boko Haram which loosely translates to “Western education is forbidden” intends to oppose western influence and education in Nigeria. Boko Haram under Mohammed Yusuf initially encouraged a dogma of pulling out but did not look to oust the Nigerian government. But under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau and Musab al-Barnawi, the group key objectives are to oust the secular Nigerian government, disassemble its establishments and force its peculiar understanding of Islamic Sharia law throughout Nigeria. By imposing Sharia law, Boko Haram intends to ensure that Muslims who are the majority rule the country (Onuoha 54-67). Boko Haram also desires to free Nigeria from all Western persuasions. In the short term, Boko Haram’s objectives comprise of freeing its arrested membership and recover what the government has confiscated from the group and hold into account those that executed Muhammed Yusuf and other members.
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Effects of Boko Haram Insurgency
The Boko Haram insurgency especially their preferred method of prosecuting their goals has presented a severe danger to the people of Nigeria and foreigners who reside therein. The general population continues to experience security and economic challenges as a result of the disruption occasioned by this insurgency.
Boko Haram insurgency has presented the Nigerian citizens with a great security concern. People can no longer be able to move freely for fear of sporadic attack that the group has perfected. The northern parts are hardest hit with the group suicide bomb attacks and brutalizing of innocent people having escalated in the recent past. The security dilemma that Boko Haram has introduced has made it easier for other groups with ethnic grievances to attack their neighbors disguised as Boko Haram making an already complicated situation graver (Alozieuwa 1-8). Boko Haram continues to kidnap people, and other criminals have joined in whose primary intention is to extort money in the form of ransoms. The group’s attacks on government installations and even police stations have left many residents disillusioned and has exposed the counties security lapses and flaws leaving more citizen feeling insecure.
Economic activities have ground to a halt in the most affected areas of the northern Nigeria. People have run away abandoning their businesses and farms to go live in safer areas and camps. The resident of the states of Niger, Borno, and Yobe continue to be impoverished since no outside investor can dare venture into their regions. Although it is very difficult to quantify the economic effects of the insurgency, the social effects are clear and noticeable. Boko Haram, targets markets, clinics, churches, schools, and mosques, for instance in April 2014 the sect attacked federal government girls’ college abducting more than 250 female students. Attacks on social places stop people from visiting such places. Consequently, learners have stopped going to school or have moved to a school in the south. Christian cannot feel safe to attend church, and the markets have been deserted.
Dealing with Boko Haram Insurgency
In the recent years, Boko Haram did recruit a good number of youth into their ranks; poor young people without any resources and education occasionally make radical and desperate choices regardless of religion or culture. The Nigerian government requires launching policies that will produce a livelihood for the many youths. Since Boko Haram has external and internal sponsors, the government ought to go after so stop the funding (Awojobi 144-150). The government could also start negotiations with the insurgency to ascertain the legitimacy of their grievances and address them as best as they can. The government should put efforts to supply the army with the right equipment to handle the insurgent and boost their morale. Occasionally, reports coming from the battlefield fault the government for not arming the army well.
Boko Haram’s activities are a huge threat to Nigeria’s development. Apart from the socioeconomic and security implications, it is worrying that a lot of people are losing their lives. Hundreds have been displaced, and it is the time the Nigerian government took it upon itself to end the insurgency.
- Abimbola, J. O., and S. A. Adesote. “Domestic terrorism and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, issues and trends: A Historical Discourse.” Journal of Arts and Contemporary Society 4.3 (2012): 12-29.
- Alozieuwa, Simeon HO. “Contending theories on Nigeria’s security challenge in the era of Boko Haram insurgency.” Peace and Conflict Review 7.1 (2012): 1-8.
- Awojobi, Oladayo Nathaniel. “The Socio-Economic Implications of Boko Haram Insurgency in the North-East of Nigeria.” International Journal of Innovation and Scientific Research 11.1 (2014): 144-150.
- Onuoha, Freedom C. “The Islamism challenge: Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis explained.” African security review 19.2 (2010): 54-67.
- Osumah, Oarhe. “Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria and the vicious cycle of internal insecurity.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 24.3 (2013): 536-560.