Academic journal article Trames

Elite Politics and the Emergence of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria

Academic journal article Trames

Elite Politics and the Emergence of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study examines the role of elite politics in the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. It argues that the struggle between political elites of northern and southern extractions over the control of state power has intensified national conflicts and insurgency in the country. Political elites are no longer divided by ideology but by economics of state power. Elite politics of who gets what, when, and how and the struggle for state power led to the formation of the sect and fuels the incessant attacks and insecurity in Nigeria. The study adopts a methodology involving re-description of history based on documentary research. It establishes that elite politics accounts for the emergence and escalation of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Accordingly, the study recommends that good and inclusive governance be employed as a panacea for harmonizing the fractured Nigerian state and overcoming insurgency in Nigeria.

Keywords: elite politics, Boko Haram, state power, terrorism, political elite, good governance

1. Introduction

Political elite is undoubtedly a crucial determinant of the history and identity of a given society. It is also a vital force in politics and violence. Boko Haram was seen as an Islamic sect pursuing religious issues. Its attacks has not just added a new phenomenon to Africa's numerous conflicts but created a new dimension to such conflicts. Terrorism is not just an African phenomenon but a global one. It seems that the intensification of the global circuits of capital is linked to the rising tide of terrorism. Terrorism refers to "violence principally, but not exclusively, carried out by organized and unorganized non-state actors, as well as the state, designed to instil fear on victims in order to achieve political, economic, social and even religious ends" (Mbah 2007:110). Essentially, terrorism can be placed contextually throughout history by various sects to achieve objectives through the use of violence (Aly 2011).

Since 1997, Africa has witnessed a significant increase in the number and level of intensity of terrorist incidents. According to the incidents database of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, between 1997 and 2007 Africa recorded an estimated 522 acts of terrorism, resulting in 8,477 injuries, and 2,614 fatalities. Records show that 73% of these terrorist incidents were domestic while only about 27% were transnational, qualifying Africa as a continent perpetually at war against itself. Despite the high frequency of domestic terrorism in Africa, the many terrorism cleanup initiatives on the continent primarily concern transnational terrorism, especially since the epochal events of 9/11 (Agbiboa 2013).

In modern times, manifestation of international terrorism can be seen or distinguished essentially by political and social circumstances within the international environment. Boko Haram exhibits similar tactics and motivation. There was an initial differentiation between Boko Haram, which was regarded as a kind of domestic terror group excluding it from the international network with Al-Qaeda. In this way, the emergence of terror groups in the countries of Africa was linked with economic deprivation and poverty. Thus, the political discourses in Nigeria were based on poor governance, economic deprivation, and elite corruption. However, religion acts as the ideological force, legitimizes and unifies the group and aims to achieve one of the three primary religious goals: establishment of a religiously pure state, establish religious governments or destruction of earth (Aly 2011). In spite of its marginality in global affairs, Nigeria appears to have been drawn into this spiral of terrorism. Boko Haram is predominant in the northeastern part of Nigeria, particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. It has in the last half a decade ago become the most dangerous insurgent group in Nigeria. They are known to destructively attack innocent citizens, government institutions, security formations, telecommunications masts, banks, religious organizations, educational institutions, media houses, beer halls, markets and local communities with a kind of guerrilla warfare (Mbah and Nwangwu 2014; Mohammed 2014). …

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