n Africa Insight - The role of the United States in Nigeria’s conflicts - the Niger Delta and Northeastern Nigeria

Volume 49 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


This article is an examination of the role of the United States (US) in the Niger Delta and Northeastern Nigeria during the Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations. The article is an attempt to analyse and examine the role and actions of the US Government in both regions, with an emphasis on the Obama administration, which saw the American Government, media and ordinary citizens discover and learn about a little-known group called Boko Haram. The responses and actions of the US Government are analysed and discussed in the context of the legislative and executive branches, and their efforts to designate first individual members of Boko Haram and then the entire organisation and its offshoots as terrorist organisations. The designation of Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) – but not any of the militant/insurgent groups in the Niger Delta – during all four of the above administrations is addressed. It is argued that the organisational profiling of Boko Haram, unlike any of the groups in the Niger Delta, resulted in the FTO designation. Thus, the actions of the external actor, the US, were different in each region. In addition, if conflict resolution and management are to be understood within these two regions, the terrorist designation of Boko Haram needs to be discussed, because it allows the US Government to utilise certain resources in its war on terrorism that it would perhaps not use in the Niger Delta. Moreover, the article attempts to explain why Boko Haram was classified as a FTO and none of the groups in the Niger Delta were given this designation, although the actions of the various groups that operate or operated in the region can be classified as acts of terrorism.

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