The Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria: What could have been the precursors?


  • Olusegun Anthony Ofongo Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada


The problem of insurgency has for several decades occupied a good part of the attention of IR scholars. This paper explores the various perspectives on the formation and radicalization of Boko Haram in Nigeria. The focus is on the extent to which illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, weak state capability, the almajiri crisis and the mobilization of ethno-religious identity explain simmering insurgency in Nigeria. The group has experienced ferocious onslaught on their activities by the Nigerian Military. The article relies on secondary data. This has enabled the author to draw heavily from literature espousing the diverse perspectives put forth as explanations for the uprising. Fragile state theory serves as a framework for analysis. On this basis, the article demonstrates the low-cost availability of foot soldiers from the almajiri pool, resulting from the state’s inability or unwillingness to provide better education, and employment opportunities, and widespread poverty has exposed youths to indoctrination, criminalization and terrorism. In order to ensure the effectiveness of counter terrorism efforts, the military option should not be solely relied on. Rather, efforts should be geared towards addressing the various underlying social, political and economic triggers of violent insurgency, especially in northern Nigeria where such triggers are pervasive.


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