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INSURGENCY AND THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF BOKO HARAM IN THE NORTH EAST (2011-2018)
1.1 Background of the Study
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country and has long been bedeviled by inter communal, interreligious, political and indeed criminal violence. Postcolonial Nigeria has no doubt witnessed and is still witnessing several forms of insurgencies in both the Northern and the Southern divides of the country, most of which have been very bloody and catastrophic.
However, in recent times, the situation has gone from bad to worst. Since the return to civil rule in 1999, Nigeria has been battling with series of violent agitations from various geo-political zones within the country. These violent agitations which have taken terror dimensions have contributed to a national security threat that is capable of disintegrating the country.
Incidents of terrorism have been reported frequently by media organizations in Nigeria and such reports are dominated by those on Boko Haram insurgency attacks. The activities of Boko Haram insurgents began around 2002, in northern Nigeria, when they functioned as a local Islamic group. Nigerians hold the assumption that the word ‘Boko Haram’, points to the group’s opposition to western education. The activities of Boko Haram insurgents in the country underwent two phases: a) (2002 to 2009) when the group mainly organized teachings and philanthropic visits to the needy); and (b) (2009 to date) the period of violent movement (Shuaibu/Salleh/Shehu 2015: 254-255). It is believed that the activities of Boko Haram was initiated by Muhammed Marwa, an Islamic purist, who believed that Islamic religion had been contaminated by westernization and all that is associated with it (Danijibo 2012; Walker 2012; Shehu 2014).
According to Voll (2015), attacks from the Boko Haram sect have been frequent and callous due to the killing of Muhammad Yusuf, a perceived leader of the sect, by Nigerian military forces. Boko Haram insurgents have thus been driven by a desire for vengeance against the Nigerian government, Nigerian military forces, schools and religious authorities. Boko Haram insurgents kill at will and abduct unsuspecting victims in northern Nigeria and this has resulted in inhabitants of these communities, living in grave fear and uncertainty as regards who the next target would be.
Insurgent Terrorists’ attacks of Boko Haram have resulted in the killings of hundreds of people and wanton destruction of property worth billions of naira through bombings (Abimbola and Adesote 2012). This view was also shared by former Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade, when he acknowledged that the nation now faced new security threats that were quite different from what we used to know. NAN, (2011:5) averred inter alia:
I will rather say that we are facing new threats different from what we used to face before. But as these threats confront us, we will find solutions to them; it is now a period to look forward and overcome the challenges that face us.
On the state of the country, when people feel insecure, their appetite to invest, buy or rent from the product of investment reduces; and that is why all over the world today, any country that radiates an environment of insecurity naturally repels investment initiatives from both the international community and its own local investors. Every society across the globe has its peculiar problems and challenges in which Nigeria is not an exception. Today, insurgency is one of the greatest problems bedeviling various countries in varying degrees. It affects policies of government and also retards development (Ifijeh, 2011)
A number of analysts have variously attributed the disturbing trend to political dissatisfaction, ethnic and religious differences, perceived societal neglect and pervasive poverty among the people. Some scholar attributed insurgency to the desire of man to satisfy his inordinate ambition of lust for power and this has often led to the irrational use of violence against the state, private organizations and the general public with the ultimate objective of achieving selfish goals (Akhain, 2012).
The wanton destruction of lives and properties in the Northeast has fast deteriorating effects on Nigeria political economy. Today most Nigerians are facing the risk of being exterminated as a result of Boko Haram insurgency (Terrorism). The impacts of Boko Haram insurgency in contemporary Nigerian political economy have left behind inestimable damages to every facet of life in Nigeria mostly in the northern region. There is no gainsaying that, the upsurges of terrorism have slow down national economic growth and development, since no investors would invest in a crisis ridden nation like Nigeria (Baiyewu, 2012 cited in Titus, 2016).
According to Agomuo (2011) what started around 2006 in the far flung North East geopolitical zone of the country as a child’s play, has become a national disgrace and of international concern. The emergence of the deadly group, whose activities assumed a worrisome dimension in 2009, has continued a reign of terror in parts of the country. The inhuman activities of the Islamist sect, have unsettled the Nigerian nation to the extent that ample time and socio-economic cum political resources that ought to have been channeled to the development of the entire country is being wasted on various efforts geared towards checkmating and possibly, annihilating the insurgency in the North East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Agreed that the North-east is the epicenter of the insurgency but its effect reverberates through the entire country and has constituted a major source of underdevelopment to Nigeria.
The main thrust of this study is to discover the impact of Boko Haram insurgency on Nigeria political economy. The study will make an attempt to examine the root cause of Boko haram insurgency in Nigeria and proffer ways to tackle the issue.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Insurgency is a threat to the economic, political and social security of a nation and a major factor associated with underdevelopment. It discourages both local and foreign investments. Also, it reduces the quality of life, destroys human and social capital, damages relationship between citizens and the states, undermining democracy, rule of law and the ability of the country to promote development.
Boko Haram insurgency in the north east of Nigeria has threatened the very existence of the living beings ranging from political, economic and socio-cultural aspects. The sect has created a Hobbesian state of nature where life is solitary, nasty, brutish and short because of nihilism and violence of men. The country’s economy has been sunk into the river of distress which had recently called for disintegration of indissoluble entity of the Nigerian state. Boko haram insurgency has created a state of palpable fear in Nigeria, while the helpless posture of the government is worrisome and intimidating (Olameji and Olusegun, 2012).