The Nigerian State as an equilibrium of violence: An explanation of the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria

  • EI Onah


This paper argues that the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria is a religious crisis that is flowing directly from the country’s political system. It is the political system in Nigeria that has brought about the present realities of corruption, poverty, and underdevelopment throughout the country. Religion has only served, especially in northern Nigeria, to ignite these realities into a violent flame. Boko Haram is the latest in the long list of religiously inspired violence that has flared up in Nigeria on account of deficiencies in the political system. For as long as these systemic deficiencies exist, religious disturbances such as the Boko Haram violence will continue to be there. Such violence has served fundamentalist entrepreneurs or groups and other such champions to call attention to the plight of their people. However, such violence most often only provokes the government into counter-violence. The cycle of violence and counter-violence then enables the government to keep the people in check, even without addressing their demands, and, to dominate and exploit society without hindrance. What the state must do to sustainably tackle this systemic violence is to use a combination of poverty reduction strategies, anti-corruption drives, development efforts, law enforcement and military engagement (where necessary), and dialogue to try and bring about lasting peace, particularly in northern Nigeria, but also throughout the whole country.


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eISSN: 1562-6997