n African Renaissance - Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria : causal factors and central problematic

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Boko Haram, the Islamic radical sect from northeastern Nigeria, has been responsible since 2009 for a string of bomb attacks strategically directed at the Nigerian government, security officials, churches, civilians, and the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. With the attacks getting more sophisticated, coordinated and deadly with each year, there are growing concerns, nationally and internationally, about not only the fast deteriorating security situation in Nigeria but also the potential implications for Nigeria.

Given the sect's focus on the Nigerian government as well as other local targets, it appears that the grievances from which Boko Haram originates is highly localized and emblematic of the conditions of state failure in Nigeria. So conceived, this article explores the contextual factors that gave rise to the emergence and radical evolution of the Boko Haram sect. Informed by the state fragility and the Human Needs frameworks, the paper argues that Boko Haram terrorism is triggered by the cocktail of bad governance in Nigeria, including the widespread failures of state policies, inefficient and wasteful parastatals, and endemic corruption, poverty, unemployment, and extensive underdevelopment in the north of Nigeria. The resulting security conditions have been exacerbated by the spectacular failure of government intelligence and security apparatus. The paper further examines the state responses to the Boko Haram impasse and concludes that the menace is unlikely to dissipate unless the Nigerian government alters significantly the conditions of state failure.

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