Insurgency in Nigeria: The Prognosis

and its Effects on the Nigerian Politics

Mevayerore Daniel Igbini1

Abstract: Since Nigeria returned to civil rule in May 1999 after several years of military rule, the nation hasn’t enjoyed peaceful moment due to the activities of insurgent groups’ and criminal gangs such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits, armed robbers, Kidnappers and Fulani herdsmen. In light of these ugly and perturbing scenarios this study examined the causative factors of insurgency, as well as crimes in Nigeria. The study, thus, relates this to corruption, nepotism, ethnic consciousness, mediocracy, marginalisation, extreme social deprivation and religious extremism. The study considers the effects of these on the nation’s politics, as the prognoses if these challenges had persisted longer than expected. To achieve this, the study adopted historical research design which is qualitative and explorative in nature, implying that data used in the study were derived from Secondary sources, via books, journal publications, government official documents, internet sources, among others. The study adopted Frustration-Aggression and Relative Deprivation theories to examine the causative factors or reasons why people resort to insurgency, crimes and other forms of unrests as alternative means to register their grievances against the government. Useful recommendations in the form of articulated policy frameworks were presented to stem this ugly trend.

Keywords: Nigeria; Politics; Insurgency; Crimes; Civil-unrests; National Security; Democratic rule

1. Introduction

Since the returned to civil rule in May, 1999 till date, the Nigerian societies have been under serious attacks from insurgent and criminal gangs with terrorist organisations, armed robbers, bandits, attacks from the self-style Fulani herdsmen, youth restiveness and others form of civil unrests as the most frightening of all these megalomanias. The most perturbing of all the recent forms of security threats in the country are those orchestrated by the Islamic Jihadist movements- Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northern part of the country on the one hand; and bandits, and Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict on the other hand. Apart from the challenges posed by these notorious Islamic jihad terrorist groups, bandits and Fulani herders, there are other form of threats that in the past emanated from the minority and marginalised ethnic groups from the Niger Delta region-the main source of the country’s wealth but the most neglected, marginalised and underdeveloped region in the country. The form of insurgency that emanated from this region took the forms of pipeline vandalism, oil bunkering and kidnapping for ransom. Also of note was the agitation for true federalism and resource control, the consequences of which resulted to militancy in the Sub-region. Considering the recent happenings in the country, some analysts and observers of the Nigerian political scenario have predicted a resurgent of militancy in the Niger Delta. This situation, no doubt, will complicate and usher in new security challenge to the nation if it eventually erupts.

The most worrisome of all of these security threats in the country currently is the intensified campaign launched by the pro-Biafra group, the IPOB for secession from the federal republic of Nigeria. Some scholars and political analysts have, however, argued that one of the major challenges confronting the people in recent time is the regionalisation of security threats in the country. In the affirmative, Chukwu and Chimera (2015) argued that the peculiarity in criminality and regionalisation of unrests and agitations in Nigeria makes it very difficult for the central and regional governments to combat the security challenges in the country. Apart from the fact that criminalities or security challenges in the country are in most cases regionalised, insincerity of purpose and corruption has been the bane to countering the upsurge of these security challenges, situation that is also pertinent in this discourse.

Notably also, these groups have consistently unleashed mayhem in the country and continued to threaten peace and security particularly in their respective domains or regions such that in the South-western part of the country security threat takes the forms of political motivated and ritual killings; armed robbery and kidnappings, etc. While in the South-eastern part, security threat comes from agitation from the secessionist group or what some scholars and analysts refer to as a Separatist organisation known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). And the northern part of the country for over a decade now is under siege of Boko Haram Islamic terrorist organisation, ISWAP, banditry, cattle rustling and Fulani herdsmen attacks. This region is the most volatile in the country in recent times having experienced several attacks from these insurgent groups and terrorist organisations.

Olamilekan (2014:362) analysing the Nigeria’s issues argued that the political atmosphere in the country has always encouraged conflicts in the form of political violence, communal clashes and ethnic-religious crisis, and the latest of which is Boko Haram insurgent attacks on public places such as schools, churches, mosques, market places, government and military installations. Kalu, Ajuzie and Chukwu (2018:1) argued that insecurity in all its forms and those arising from fears and despairs the citizens fear on daily basis are the major problems of the people, the government and its security agencies in recent times. Muzan (2014) argued that of all these security challenges, insurgency in northern Nigeria seems to be an exception and has been growing in strength, sophistication, and most importantly, quite ominous and very difficult to combat. In a nut shell, the country is at the edge of dreadful precipice if the threat emanating from terrorism is not successfully surmounted.

Ironically, the activities of Boko Haram insurgency and its affiliate groups have been complicated by occasional political violence, hereditary corruption, nepotism, tribalism, indiscipline in virtually all facets of the public, abduction and kidnappings, armed robbery, murder, extortion, bombings of places of worship and innocent Nigerians, hence, making it very difficult for the Federal government and its security agencies to combat, Muzan argued. Until recently, this surge of insecurity was thought to be motivated by ethnic sentiment but currently it appears to be an organised transnational Islamic jihad movement with a determined motive of imposition of Islamic ideologies and beliefs on the people using dreadful strategies and tactics such as intimidation, guerrilla warfare, suicide bombing, and abduction of young women.

Lately, the emergence of ISWAP and banditry in the northern part of the country has been intensified and the obnoxious campaign of terrorism has taken a diverse dimension, thus complicating the Nigeria’s problems. Scholars that have under studied these security challenges or national issues have argued that the consequences or effects of the activities of these organised group people is better imagined than experienced. Unfortunately, the consequences of the activities of these group of people is already been felt and have also disrupted socio-economic development in domicile regions and the country in general. Judging from the increasing trends, spread and uprising, and attacks from the insurgent groups and criminal elements in the country in recent years, the researcher fears the prognoses about the country’s future.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

The seemingly increased nature of insecurity in the country occasioned by the activities of criminal gangs, terrorist organisations, bandits, unrests from the civil society and marginalised ethnic groups, and most importantly, the designated regionalised forms of insurgencies and criminalities, and modus operandi have been the sources of concern to the government and security agencies in the country over the years. Unfortunately, the government of the federation and the security agencies seem to be comatose despite the serious challenges posed by the activities of these criminal gangs, terrorists and agitators who see themselves as freedom fighters, fighting for their constitutional rights and positions in the affairs of the country, and some unknown reasons. This has no doubt complicated the fight against uprisings and insurgency in some parts of the country.

Taking a cue from these debacles, the failure of the government and the security agencies to combat the siege mounted by criminal gangs and terrorist organisations, particularly in northern Nigeria, Muzan (2014:218) argued that Nigerians would have no option than believing that the entire nation, irrespective of regional affiliations, would soon be submerged and controlled by recalcitrant and dissident groups of the Islamic jihadist movement: the Boko Haram and ISWAP formerly known as Jama at Ahi as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad. Muzan, thus, warned that the nation is at a dreadful precipice and observers and everyone in the country should as a matter of fact be concerned about what the actions and inactions of these groups would portend now and in the future.

Chukwurah, Eme and Ogbeje (2015) have argued that the activities of Boko Haram in particular has created the impression that Nigeria is a safe haven for terrorist organisations and by implication brought dishonour and dented image of the country. Undoubtedly, this classification has not only affected economic activities and social development in Maiduguri, Kano, Yobe and other parts of the north-east Nigeria but that of the entire nation, a situation that is quite perturbing and effected the foreign direct investments (FDI) not only in the north-east but in the entire country from inceptions, they argued. In the same manner, Adewumi (2014) cited in Amalu (2015:35) argued that the Nigeria’s situation has become so terrible to the extent that any contemporary discourse on Nigeria is nothing without a mention of the escalating and frightening issues relating to insecurity, militancy, insurgency and terrorism.

In the affirmative, Amalu (2015) argued that since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, there has been upsurge in violent activities with the Boko Haram sect at the forefront. Despite the efforts of the government to counter Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, the activities of the sect seems to be unabated due to its stretch to the neighbouring countries of Chad Republic, Cameroon and Niger, making it very difficult for the government to combat, she argued. However, the prognoses or uncertainties that follow the actions and inactions of Boko Haram terrorist organisation, bandit, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and other criminal gangs, and the inability of the government and the security agencies to effectively counter these insurgency, terrorism, attacks and control other forms of criminalities in the country have been the bane to national cohesions, peace and security over the years.

Of all these problems bedevilling the nations’ socio-economic development and image abroad, religious extremism of the Islamic jihadist movement with its extreme form, terrorism, in the form of Boko Haram and ISWA on the on hand, and banditry, Fulani herdsmen attacks and other forms of attacks from criminal gangs on the other hand, have been identified as the most frightening challenges confronting the country presently. Following these upsurge of insurgency, especially in the north-east, businesses are now frizzling out, citizens displaced from their homes and unemployed, thus leaving majority of them destitute. Despite these obvious scenarios, the government and the security agencies are yet to identify those behind these nefarious behaviours. This informs the impression that the nation is at war with itself and nothing more (Amalu, 2015).

It is on the backdrops that this study is poised to examine the causative factors of insurgency in particular, as well as crimes and other forms of unrests since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999. It also considers the impacts of the activities of the insurgent and terrorist groups, as well as those of other criminal gangs on national image abroad, political and socio-economic development of the country since the return of civil rule. Most importantly, the prognosis of the security challenges in the country since her return to civil rule is the focus of the study. Finally, the study wound proffer solutions or recommendations that would address the causative factors of insurgency, terrorism and other forms of security challenges in order to prevent further escalation or future occurrences.

1.3. Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the prognoses of the upsurge of insurgency and other forms of security challenges in the country since her returned to civil rule. While the specific objectives are to:

  1. Examine the causes and forms of insurgency in Nigeria since her return to democratic rule,

  2. Examine the prognoses or impacts of insurgency in the country.

  3. Provide means in which the challenges caused by insurgency in the country could be addressed to provide lasting solutions.

1.4. Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to provide direction to this study:

  1. What are the causes and forms of insurgency in Nigeria since her return to democratic rule?

  2. What are the prognoses or impacts of insurgency in the country?

  3. What are the factors that could address and provide lasting solutions to the challenges caused by insurgency in the country?

1.5. Research Method

The study adopted the historical design which is qualitative and explorative in nature, to examine the causes of insecurity in Nigeria since her return to democratic rule. It was also adopted to evaluate the prognosis relating to the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria. The implication of these to the development and sustenance of our nascent democracy is also of pertinence. This presupposes that historical research design is effectively utilised through relevant data derived from extant literature. In other words, secondary sources such as textbooks, journal articles, internet sources, and other relevant methods were utilised.

1.6. Theoretical Framework

The study adopted Frustration-Aggression and Relative Deprivation Theories to analyse the reasons why people take to insurgency or otherwise the causes of insurgency, especially in Nigeria. Some scholars have argued that some individuals or group of individuals take to crime registered their grievances either against the society or government of the state while some do so selfish gains or greed. For this reasons, scholars some traces marginalisation, deprivation of social need, poor leadership and bad governance, and ethno-religious division as the major reasons for insurgency in Nigeria. This study, therefore, adopted these theories to examine the extent to which these factors, particularly social deprivation, political marginalisation, ethno-religious differences and religious extremism could lead to frustration which its extreme end is aggressive behaviour.

A. Frustration-Aggression Theory

Frustration-aggression theory was proposed by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer and Sears in 1939 to explain the reason why people behave aggressively especially when their expected goals are thwarted. The theory was further developed by Miller and his other colleagues in 1941 and by Leonard Berkowitz in 1969. The principal hypothesis which was proposed by Dollard and his colleagues argued that, “aggressive behaviour often leads to aggression”. This implies that frustration possibly leads to aggressive behaviour which in turn leads to resistance or rather an attempt to block the source of frustration. This is what they interpreted as responds to vices thwarting ones expected goal. This was further interpreted by Dennen (2005) when he sees the term frustration not only as a process of blocking one’s attainment of a re-enforcer but also as a reaction to such blockage.

Dollard et al. in their hypothesis see the motivational strength of aggression as a function: the reinforcement value of the frustrated goal response, the degree of frustration of this response, and the number of frustrated response sequences. Apparently, aggressive drive resulting from frustration, in one way or the other, is maintained within the individual or group of individuals and may lead to intolerable frustration which may provoke aggressive behaviour(s). They argued that, “the strength of any hostile or aggressive reaction against the source of frustration depends on the level, extent or amount of the residual instigation from previous source(s) of Frustration (Dollard et al., 1939).

This theory, therefore, explains the reason or otherwise principal causes of insurgency in the Niger Delta in which the people of the region were frustrated to the extent that they took to violence to registered their frustration occasioned by underdevelopment and neglect by the Federal government and foreign oil companies; environmental degradation and pollution following oil exploration, spillage and gas flaring, and political marginalisation of the people of the region in the affairs of the federation which the region produces a huge percentage of the federal government revenue. The South East region sees unrest or threat from IPOB whose grievances is marginalisation of the Igbo ethnic nationality in the political affairs of the Federal. They feel that for decades the Nigerian government has marginalised them by systematically favouring the other major ethnic groups, particularly the Hausa-Fulani extraction at their detriment. In recent times, the desire for independence fuelled several military actions such as the launching of operation Python Dance to quash IPOB secession campaign by the Federal government of Nigeria (Tayo & Mba, 2017).

B. Relative Deprivation (RD) Theory

This theory is credited to Samuel Stouffer, a Sociologist in 1949. Initially, the theory was used to describe unexpected relationship that emerged from surveys of American soldiers in World War 11. Stouffer finds out soldiers of the same of the era measured their individual success not necessarily with the standards set out by the military but by their individual experiences they had within their respective units. Despite their similarities in education and experiences, some officers still feel deprived from rapid promotion due to them while other enjoy the privilege (Smith, Pettigrew, Pippin & bialosiewicz, 2015; Teasley, 2020).

This theory is a widely discussed field of contemporary sociology which emphasises the reason why some people who are deprived of social necessities take to aggressive behaviour. In other words, an individual or group of individuals’ underprivileged in material or immaterial way are likely to behaviour in a manner that is unacceptable to the larger society (Michalos, 2014).For Longley (2020) relative deprivation is an actual or perceived lack of resources required to maintain the quality of life such as diet, activities and material possessions. It is a feeling that one is worse-off than the people he or she associate with and compare self with. For social theorists and political scientists, deprivation theory suggests that some group of people feel deprived of something considered essential to them. Such is the case in Nigeria in which some individuals take to crime because of poverty which they attribute to the insensitivity of the government. The Niger Delta insurgency is also a pertinent example of this group who feel deprived of their rights.

2. Review of Related Literature

2.1. Insurgency: Contextual Analysis

In recent times, the concept insurgency has attracted lots of interpretations, some of which are closely related and some which have completely distinct interpretation from scholars, analysts and security experts all over the world because of its regular occurrences and sophistication adopted by those that championed its cause as a mean to register their grievances either against government policies or marginalisation, as well as in pursuit of selfish interests or of religious ideologies or beliefs.

Essentially also, several extant literature on insurgency revealed that insurgency also refers to as internal political violence is beset with a lot of conceptual confusion largely due to a lack of consensus on what the term actually stands for. There is also the problem of its indiscriminate usage and the use of some terms interchangeably with the concept such as revolution, insurrection, guerrilla warfare, unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, armed struggle, internal war, rebellion, liberation war, conflict and terrorism. Notwithstanding, these distinctions and descriptions by scholars and theorists did not denied the concept acceptable or workable academic conceptual frameworks that have provided us with insights as to what the concept portends.

Although, the mirage of conceptual difficulties have made it very difficult for us to have generally accepted definition of the term insurgency but there are workable and acceptable definitions of the concept in recent studies. In the affirmative, Moore (2007:2) opines that the term insurgency has been used interchangeably, though, not completely correctly with the terms warfare, unconventional warfare, revolutionary and even terrorism. Furthermore, he argued that the interchangeability of concepts in attempts to provide a concise definition of the concept insurgency is understandable, given the diverse nature and trend to which insurgency is being used as a means to register ones disaffections toward government policies and programmes or in pursuit of selfish and religious beliefs.

Abdu and Shehu (2019) see insurgency as a rebellion against a constituted authority either in the pursuit of political goal or for selfish interest. Abolurin (2011) cited in Abdu and Shehu (2019:10) described insurgency as a revolution, revolt, rebellion, riot and mutiny. By implication, those carryout rebellious acts are insurgent groups involved in insurgency. Most people have also used the term terrorism to describe the term insurgency. But this description is not usually correct about insurgency. Though it can only be regard as such only when it has gone extreme with the use arms and other forms of sophistication. In this respect, Curtas (2006) and Liolio (2014) cited in (Amalu, 2015:36) argued that insurgency is not terrorism, subversion, guerrilla war, conventional war, revolution, coup d’état, although some insurgent groups have adopted some of these methods in the achievement of their goals.

Hassan, 2014) in an elaborate manner argued that the misconstruction of the term insurgency with the term terrorism is not completely wrong because terrorism has become the main commonly adopted strategy by the insurgents. Since terrorism is associated with a certain kind of violent action carried out by individuals and group of individuals rather than by the states and with events which take place in peace time rather than as part of conventional war, it could be construed as insurgency. As a strategy of insurgency, terrorism involves the adoption of some methods to achieve its goals which include bombing, guerrilla warfare, kidnapping and abduction. This simply means that insurgent groups or movements often use terrorism to pursue political goals or particular objective.

Hassan (2014) argued that insurgency can be seen as political struggle and necessarily not a military struggle, therefore, not amenable to a purely military solution without resorting to a level of brutality unacceptable to the contemporary global environment. Galula (1964) define insurgency as “a protracted struggle conducted methodologically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives which often times or extreme cases lead to overthrow of existing order”. The US Department of Defense, DOD (2007) cited in Ukpong-Umo (2016) defined insurgency as an organised movement which its aim is to overthrow a constituted authority or government through the use of subversion or armed conflict.

Pustay (1965) sees insurgency as “a composite conflict phenomenon which can be defined as a cellular development of resistance against political regime and that which can possibly expand from the initial stage of subversion-infiltration through the intermediate stages of overt resistance by small armed bands and insurrection to final fruition in civil war. By these definitions, it means that an insurgent group is a group of revolutionalists that has exceeded their initial objective and transforms same to a radical form which some scholar and experts alike see as terrorism. This brings us to the interchangeability of terms such as revolution, insurrection, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, etc, with the term insurgency. The study, thus, sees insurgency as an organised rebellious group who uses force or arms to pursue a targeted objective and against a constituted government.

3. Empirical Review

3.1. Causes and Forms of Insurgencies in Nigeria

Inarguably, a reasonable numbers of previous studies on insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria since her return to civil rule have not be able to explicitly analysed the major causes nor categorised insurgency in a manner that it could be easily understood. Though, a few of these studies have attempted to trace the root cause of Boko Haram Islamic sect insurgency in north-east Nigeria by attaching externality and internality factors to its origin. Complementing this stand point, Iyekekpolo (2019) argued that studies on insurgency for over a decade have inconclusively explained the Boko Haran insurgency in the north east Nigeria in particular. Furthermore, he argued that while some emphasised transnational motivational factors associated to the Salafist ideology of the so-called global jihad, others focused on domestic structural factors such as poor economy, religious and political factors. Other factors, though, more of social problems include youth unemployment, anemic job creation, poverty, poor and failing economic conditions, hopelessness, regime repression and corruption, injustice, inequality, religious sectarianism, and mass violations of human rights including those against women and minority group (Nakhleh, 2014).

Zenn (2017) cited in Iyekekpolo (2019:2) argued that the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria emerged from the motivation and through the funding from Al Qaeda through its link, Muhammad Ali, in Nigeria. In the affirmative, Lake (2018) and Gourley (2012) traced the formation of Boko Haram sect from the perspective of its funding which they argued was provided by Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda. In essence, the set’s trajectory is like that of others a al-Qaeda affiliates and was motivated by hatred for the west. Some scholars, however, have located the origin of pronounced insurgency in Nigeria to ethno-religious factor traced to the wake of 1804 Usman Dan Fodio jihad and the subsequent establishment of the Sokoto caliphate in northern part of the country. Notably also was its sustenance and recognition by the British colonial masters’ indirect rule system which lasted till 1960 when the country gained her independence. Unfortunately, the consequence of this is still being felt in the post-independence era because of the failure of the past administrations to manage this ethno-religious divide which some scholars argued that it is the upshot of the conflicts of which Boko Haram is a new dimension (Iyekekpolo, 2019:3).

Domestically, it was argued by scholars that the Boko Haram insurgency in northern part of the country enjoys the support of rich Muslims in the north especially those that identified with the group because of its Sharia prologue. Despite the fact that the insurgent group receives financial support from foreign states and non-state actors such as Libya, Algeria and al Qaeda terrorist organisation, the group also receives financial support from some rich northerners. Externally, the group receives technical support and training from Afghanistan, Libya and Iran under the pretext of studying abroad (Mbombo, 2015:17). However, the major force behind Boko Haram and ISWAP jihad terrorism in northern Nigeria is imported religious indoctrination by radical Islamic scholars on the weaker group of individuals of the same Islamic faith. By implication, Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgency in northern Nigeria follows the same trend or sequence of indoctrination with other Islamic jihad movements across the world (Oluka & Igwe, 2020:20).

Tracing the causes of conflict or insurgency in Nigeria, Muzan (2014) argued that the root causes of conflict in the country, some of which escalated to a full brown unrest or insurgency and unleashed mayhem as well as threatened the nation’s unity and existence to internal factors such as corruption, nepotism, mediocracy, tribalism and marginalisation of minority ethnic group in the country. Furthermore, he argued that the first attempt to enthrone insurgency or terrorism in the country’s history was the movement to liberate the Niger Delta people led by Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro and which gave birth to a group known as the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), an armed military group composed of Boro’s Ijaw kinsmen. On February 1966, the group declared the Niger Delta Republic that was later crushed by the Federal military forces and arrested Boro. Muzan also declared the 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970 Nigerian civil war or what is also known as the Biafra war as another earliest form of insurgency in the country.

Several years later, new forms of insurgencies emerged in the South East region of the country following the emergence of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) led by Ralp Uwazurike, a lawyer and human rights activist. Analysts of the Nigeria situation argued that MASSOB was a follow-up to the failed Biafra civil war. According to Nationalia News (2020) MASSOB which was found in 1999 has ever since calling for secession of Biafra alongside IPOB making a very serious campaign from the South East Nigeria.

Other groups like Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force saw the emergence of another known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) both from the Niger Delta sub region of Nigeria. In 1997, there was the emergence of a Yoruba nationalist group known as the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) founded by Dr. Fredrick Fasheun with its militant arm headed by Ganiyu Adams in the South West region of the country. The northern part of the country was not left out of the upsurge of violent crimes during this period with the region engulfed by intra-religious clashes between different Islamic sects that refused to accept each others’ paths to Islam. There was also the Arewa Youth Congress (AYC) in the north, though, not particularly an insurgent group but actions and inactions occasionally reflect the characteristics of insurgency. This form of crisis was described as a near insurgency by some scholars who have studied the origin and causes of insurgency in the country (Muzan, 2014; Akubo & Okolo, 2019; Nte, 2011).

Some scholars, however, have argued that these organisations and ethno-nationalist groups present forms of challenges and insurgencies in the country over the years. Sympathetically, the youth are the recruits who are employed to carry out the nefarious acts directed against innocent civilian population. Extant literature revealed that this was made possible by the high level of unemployment rate, large number of poor and frustrated youths. According to Ukpon-Umo (2016:66) socio-economic factor is the most common factor that promotes insurgency in Nigeria over the years. Ordu (2015) cited in Ukpon-Umo (2016) argued that the government of the state has failed the people in several ways leading to agitations in the country, most of which later become insurgent groups to have threatened the peace of the nation. This is evidenced in the operations of the militant groups in the Niger Delta such as the Niger Delta Avengers (NDV), among others.

Suffice it to state that exploitation of the natural resources accompanied by underdevelopment and natural degradation of the host communities and the failure of the government to adequately award scholarship to the indigenous sons and daughters; lack of infrastructural development such as good roads, hospitals, good schools, modern commercial trading centers, good drinking waters; and the stench from unemployment, among other factors have ignited and heightened internal grievances of the Niger Deltans against the Federal government, the consequence of which resulted to eruption of some of these insurgencies in the region (Ordu, 2015).Akinwotu and Sahabi (2020) argued that the resurrection of banditry in North-West Nigeria and other geopolitical zones in northern Nigeria has taken a dreaded dimension launching unsuspecting attacks on villages and killing of villagers and their domestic animals. This has posed another security challenge to the people of the geopolitical zone and the Federal government and the security agencies.

Extant literature have also revealed occasional climate change as another source of conflict that in most times takes the form of insurgency such as the Fulani herdsmen and sedentary farmers conflicts across the country. Akinwotu and Sahabi (2020) argued that for over a decade now Nigerians have been confronted by incidents of armed robbery and cattle rustling, and most importantly, attacks from bandits and Fulani herdsmen, a situation that is attributed to competition for scarce resources such as land between the ethnic Fulani herders and local farmers. There is no doubt, however, that many Fulani nomadic pastoralists who span West Africa face the twin threat of climate change and rapid population growth both of which have diminished the available land, unfortunately leading to migration from the northern to the southern part of the country in search of green pastures for their cattle. Scholars have argued that the source of conflict between the Fulani herders and the host southern communities is not the migration but the encroachment on private farm lands and the destruction of crops.

In like manners, Adishi and Oluka (2018:14) opine that violent clashes between Farmers and herders have become almost a daily occurrence in Nigeria in recent times despite the fact that it is a new form of security concern to the government. This recent security concern has taken a frightening dimension which has led to death of hundreds of Nigerians in recent times. One basic feature of the Herders is migration and at the heart of migration is climate change which makes the Fulani herdsmen desperate guest with their unwilling host communities, the consequence of which is conflict. Ordinarily, Fulani nomads were never known for the level of violence but what informs the new wave of behaviour is unimaginable. Some scholars and analysts have had to argue that this form of violence is influenced or caused by the Islamic jihad ideology which has created a new dimension to terrorism in the country. There is therefore the possibility of more cases of insurgencies and unrests in the country if the Federal government continues to fail in its duties of providing good governance to the people.

3.2. Impacts of Insurgencies in Nigeria

Since the return to democratic rule, Boko Haram insurgency in northern part of the country has been the most antagonistic and dangerous threat to the citizens and security operatives in Nigeria. The Islamic terrorist organisation is not just posing a great threat to lives, properties, human rights and dignities, and democratic values, but also to the existence of Nigeria. Whether the insurgency in regionalised in the northern part of the country or not, its activities over the years have great negative effects to the nation in general. Unfortunately, the activities of the sect seem to be unabated despite government efforts to counter the insurgency. According to Akubo (2019), in recent years, the strategic objective of the government is to militarily degrade and defeat Boko Haram insurgency, both in the short and long term, unfortunately, this has proved to be difficult to actualise considering the ineptitude occasional observed on the part of the Federal government and its security agencies on the one hand, and increased and amazing sophistication of the insurgent group on the other hand.

Achodo (2019) cited in Akubo (2019) argued that if the strategic objective of the Federal government is to politically negotiate cessation of violence and resolution to the crisis of the Boko Haram insurgency, the government, then, must adopt a different and more proactive military concept of operations and rules of engagement that would require both short and long term solutions to the problems of the insurgency. Though, this might pose a huge dilemma for the army, as the war is mostly a domestic one and executed by local fighters within the limit of the region and with a few external recruits. Most importantly, is the clandestine nature and unpredicted strategies adopted by the insurgent or terrorist organisation to carry out attacks on unsuspecting civilian population, government and military installations In essence, the prognosis- the prediction of what is going to happen in the nearest future becomes embroiled or difficult.

To this end, scholars have argued that insurgency in all its forms, either from the Boko Haram, bandits and herders’ attacks or militancy both in the northern and southern regions of the country, the safety of lives and properties and the future of the country have been put to text or serious danger since the emergence of these groups in the country. Since the target of Boko Haram in particular has shifted to the destructions of public properties including school buildings, one the major negative effects of the upsurge is on education. In the affirmative, Bilyaminu, Iya and Purokayo (2017) argued that Boko Haram insurgency indirectly and significantly have affected human capital investment through low school enrolments, school attendance and school infrastructure, hence, sabotaging the standard of education in the country, particularly in the north-east region of Nigeria. The occasional targeted attacks on schools couple with abductions of school girls by members of the Boko Haram terrorist organisation is also of pertinence.

Following the abduction of the 250 Chibok school girls in April, 2014 (Shaibu et al., 2015) cum the that of February 19, 2018 Dapchi Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State girl, age between 11 to 19 years (Sahara Reporter, 2018; Aljazeera News, 2018) girl child enrolment in northern region that was already affected by the Islamic Purdah has drastically dropped in recent years. UNICEF (2016) cited in Adepelumi (2018) estimate shows that over 1,200 schools within the northern eastern part of Nigeria were destroyed , 319,000 children were denied access to safe learning environment, and over 1952,029 school-aged children were displace, making it difficult for them to have proper education within the period. This implies that the educational output which is determine by the level of school enrolment, attendance and infrastructure has dropped over the years due to the activities of the insurgent group. By implication, the educational output whish is, no doubt, an investment in human development is now seriously and significantly affected by Boko Haram insurgency in the north east in particularly.

Extant literatures have shown that outside the impact of Boko Haram and ISWAP which are the most visible of all the insurgent groups in the country in recent times on education, there are also psychological impacts or effects of the actions of these insurgent groups of the individual citizens, especially children in the north east, Nigeria. Adepelumi (2018) argued that, since 2009, children in the north-eastern part of the country have been living under a prolong armed conflict, the harmful impact of which include severe hardships such as family displacement, assault, kidnapping, poverty, and death and all of which has in one way or the other inflicted psychological traumas on the victims. Following this circumstance, the International Organisation of Migration, IOM, (2015) cited in Adepelumi (2018:4) argued that the mental health needs of Nigerian children who have been affected by the incessant attacks on communities in the northern region were yet to be adequately reintegrated into their new settlements like the Internally Displace Persons, IDPs camps or their communities, a problem that has in no small measure affected them psychologically.

Dun (2018) analysing the impacts of conflict or any form of insurgency, particularly on child health opines that, there is always a multiple pathways to the impacts on conflict situations or during insurgency. In elaborate manners, Dun argued that during insurgency or conflict situation, community and household resources are unavoidably limited or insufficient in supply as funds meant to provide these resources are diverted to the fight against to conflict or insurgency by the government, the consequence of which is the rise in prices of food and household commodities, and most importantly, intense fear and physical obstacles that prevent the individuals from pursuing livelihood activities. Furthermore, Dun argued that, “in the extreme cases, where infrastructure such as health facilities, market, water supply, sewage system and roads are damaged or otherwise inaccessible to the people due to the conflict situation, the impact of which would be highly felt by the populace, majority of whom are women and children.

The deprivation of these necessities is likely to force the people to relocate from the insurgent or conflict zone, and this movement may expose them to unfriendly environment or a place where there will be inadequate shelter, water, sanitation and food, such as the case of those that find themselves in IDPs camps. This is also the situation in Nigerian north east in particular and northern region in general where Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgencies, banditry, Fulani herders’ attacks and cattle rustling forced some villagers to relocate from their ancestral lands as refugees to neighbouring villages, towns, cities, IDPs camps and countries, a situation that has left them in limbos.

4. Conclusion

This study has been able to examine the root causes or otherwise reasons for the different forms of insurgencies or what some observers and analysts described as security challenges in the country. Although, not all of these security challenges are rebellious and inimical to the socio-economic development of the country but their activities in one way or the other have threatened national cohesion and trust, and encouraged ethnic consciousness among the various tribes and ethnic nationalities in the country over the years. Of all these security challenge, Boko Haram, ISWAP, banditry and Fulani herders have created the most challenging situations in the country leading to all form of counterinsurgency measures and some of which have undermine human rights.

Whether the grievances of all these forms of insurgencies that have formed the security challenges to the national government, threats to lives and properties, and decline in foreign investment (FDI) in the country, the insurgent groups have adopted similar tactics in the pursuit of their objectives which is coercion or the use of arms. Inarguably, insurgency in the country is regionalised, that is to say, that virtually all the regions of the country have experienced or are still experiencing one form of insurgency or security threat to the other. Apart from the occasional attempts by the government security personnel to forcefully restrain and discontinue peaceful protest organised by the IPOB secession group or separatist organisation, the South-eastern part of the country have actually not witnessed serious threat from IPOB, though, there are the threats from armed robbery, Fulani herders and other criminal gangs like kidnappers and human and drug traffickers.

In recent time, the Niger Delta region is relatively peaceful apart from the occasional threats of resurrection of militancy following the continuous marginalisation and underdevelopment of the region by the Federal government and the foreign oil companies operating in the region. There are also the threats from pirates, oil pipeline vandalism, and armed robbers, kidnappers, and Fulani herdsmen invasion of farm lands and villages. Of these challenges, Fulani herders’ invasion has been the most issue of concern to the regional and central governments in recent times. South-west Nigeria like the South-south geopolitical region has actually not witnessed major security challenge apart from armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings, and occasionally, politically motivated killings and attacks from Fulani herders.

Considering the modus operandi of the Fulani herdsmen, one has no options than to declare the group as one the deadliest insurgent or terrorist group alongside Boko Haram and ISWAP whether the Federal government has done so or not. It is, however, no longer strange that the group has done worse havoc in recent times across the country with no region spared. This has informed the suspicion that the Fulani herders’ upsurge is a deliberate attempt by the Fulani extraction to abridge the population of the non Fulani tribes across the country for political gains, and to champion the global Islamic jihad ideology alongside Boko Haram and ISWAP in order to Islamise the country.

Outside the impression that the principal reasons for insurgency in the country are social deprivation, political and economic marginalisation, underdevelopment, corruption, among other factors, one finds it difficult to relate the reasons behind this new form of insurgency by the Fulani herders because climate change induced deprivation of sources of water and green vegetation do not warrant the use of arms by the herders against their host communities in the southern eastern and western parts of the country. The study, therefore, concludes that the reasons or causes of insurgencies in the country differs but the reason remains that the causes of insurgency or unrest in the country is of two dimensions, internality and externality factors.


The following recommendations are made to help the Federal government to correct the ills that have threatened the unity of the nation and promoted unrests and the upsurge of insurgent groups in the country over the years:

  1. First, the government policy should prioritise necessary options that could address the causes of unrests or insurgencies in the country. In other words, the policy frameworks should cover fair distribution of the wealth of the country without marginalisation of some geopolitical regions of the country. This mean that the principles of true federalism should be respected, adopted completely and utilise in the sharing of the national wealth and appointment of individuals into positions of authority since the ills that follows equitable distributions of the nation’s wealth and positions of authority have been identified as major factors that promoted distrusts among the ethnic nationalities, the consequence of which is agitation and unrest as evidenced in the Niger Delta militancy and the secession movements in South eastern Nigeria over the years.

  2. Most importantly, the Federal government should shun all forms ethnic, tribal and religious consciousness while dealing with the people of the country. In essence, the government should avoid the seemingly popular practice of mediocracy rather than meritocracy. Those who are qualified and have attained the status of Directors and Pan Secretary in the Federal civil services or those are qualified to head the armed forces are in often cases denied their rights for a preferred candidates. These practices have in no small measure contributed to the problems of the nation over the years. The government both at the regional and central should as a matter of urgency should desist from such practices to maintain unity of the nation and to promote professionalism.

  3. The government should also sit-up in her development plans and provide the people with social infrastructure. Education for all social classes and employment opportunities should be provided for eligible and qualified citizens irrespective of social status. In other worlds, the gluttonous bourgeoisies, godfathers and captors of the nation’s political and economic institutions should desist from the imposition of their children, relatives, godsons and daughters, and loyalists into positions they are not eligible or qualified to occupy at the detriment of those who eligible and qualified for such positions. When this is done, the youth will be out of the street and will not take to crimes as a means of survival.

  4. Significantly, every countermeasures undertaken and to be taken by the government of the federation should be all encompassing, such that sufficient funds, equipments and other forms of logistics are provided to the countermeasure units. Also, countermeasure techniques should be effective enough to prevent internal and external influences such as funding and training of members of the insurgent groups.


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1 PhD in progress, Department of Political Science, Delta State University Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria, Address: Abraka, Nigeria, Corresponding author: