TERRORISM AND NIGERIA’S ECONOMY, AN ASSESSMENT OF THE BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY
1.1 Background of the Study
Terrorism according to lodge is an illegitimate means of attempting to effect political change by the indiscriminate use of violence (Lodge 1988:5). Also Madunagu (2001:51) maintains that terrorism is “the use of violence to achieve political objectives”. The bottom line of the above definitions is that terrorism is an aspect of political violence. Since September 11, 2001, multiple attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and pentagon in the United States of America, terrorism has become a House Hold discussion in the world. Boko Haram according to Dr. Anslem Dilichukwu Omenma in one of his presentation at Caritas University political science seminar day, is traceable to the militia group called ECOMOG which enjoyed the patronage of top politicians in other parts of the northern Nigeria, began to patronize the group through budgetary allocations. The Boko Haram group has affected Nigeria’s economy badly most especially in the northern part.
According to a seminar presentation in Caritas University by Dr. D.A. Omenma (H.O.D), the Boko Haram Insurgents started as a militia group called ECOMOG, which have being sponsored by prominent politicians in the north –eastern states of Borno and Yobe during the build up to the 2003 general elections. Later, other politicians in other parts of Northern Nigeria began to sponsor the group they provided them with huge sums of money, provision of training grounds on the many mountains scattered in the northern region as well as protection against arrests by the Federal governments. (Omenma 2012:15).
The sects spokesman Abu Qeda in one of his confessions in 2012 stated that the Boko Haram sect started as a fundamentalist group officially called Ahlus Sunna Lid Dawatis Jihad but now popularly known as Boko Haram. Since the inception of the activities of this group, Nigeria’s security has been threatened and it has also affected the economy.
The project is therefore an attempt at a critical study to show how Boko Haram has affected the economy either positively or negatively. It has been noted that Boko Haram is regarded as terrorist group that has affected Nigeria’s economy especially in the north, attempts would be made to see how this sect has really affected the economy of Nigeria and possibly recommend lasting solutions to the menace, so that the peace and stability which the country has longed for would be achieved and there would be an end to terrorism in Nigeria.
A cursory look around the world will reveal that for many countries under this dispensation, have also suffered and are still suffering from terrorist attacks. For instance, the United States of America which has lasted for almost two hundred years since the 18th century still suffered in the hands of Osama Bin Laden before he was finally killed in 2011. Also Israel, Pakistan and even some other countries in Africa have had terrorist‟sattacksthathave rendered peace and stability almost a mirage. Example, Libya in 1986 was attacked by the United States of America.
In Nigeria Boko Haram snowballed into national menace after the 2011 general elections, the northern governors who had relationship with the sect began to withdraw their patronages and eventually abandoned them to their fate. (The Nation 2011:13). Most scholars and analysts tend to subscribe to the opinion that terrorism is a political expression and not a criminal act. As a result they agree that terrorist groups across the world have a common adversary in the status quo, represented by the regime in power, the political system of the economic system. In their view therefore, the major objective of terrorists is to disrupt the statusquo or dismantle the regime in power so as to impose their own values on the rest of the society.
However since the terrorists usually lack willing public support and face stiff suppression from the government, they always resort to indiscriminate violence on a tactical and strategic basis to spread fear and intimidation and persuade the public of the validity of their cause (Lodge, 1988:3). All terrorist acts involve violence or equally important, the threat of violence. The Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria‟spopulation for almost two years, sapping economic development in the northern part of the country. According to “focus Nigeria”an interactive programme on television, 2012, the insurgency has brought about the demise of business in the country most especially in the northern parts. For instance, traders who come from all over Nigeria and neighboring countries to buy textiles in Kano, no longer frequent the market again and the market is not as busy as it use to be. The study is set to investigate how this menace has eaten deep into our economy.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The high level of terrorism and violence in Nigeria by the fundamentalist group (Boko Haram) has heightened fears among the populace and the international community and has eaten deep into our economy and as a matter of fact, the hostility has gone beyond religious or political coloration. Several meetings, summit, conferences etc have being held in a bid to curb the menace in the country but all to no avail. Also apart from the fact that meetings have been held, the federal governments have spent millions of naira in making sure that security is brought back to the country but that has never looked worked. The president has told all security agencies to be at alert and to get their arsenals ready and to put more effort in the promotion of effective security in the country. Also the president in one of his speeches prompts all Nigerians to take security seriously because it is everybody‟s business. But the question is will it ever stop? Can we say that the Boko Haram menace could be understood from the argument that Islam which give hope to the poor Muslims is being threatened out of extinction by Christianity and the Muslim youth who derive hope of a brighter future from the teaching of Islam are fighting to defend the survival of the hope of the hopeless Muslims, or do we see the insurgency from the prism of nationalism? In this light, this study will be guided by the following research question.
Is ideology and fundings the fundamental factors that propelled the Boko Haram Sect in Nigeria?
Does the Boko Haram crisis pose a threat to the economy of the country?
Is the military option the possible solution in tackling the menace?