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  1. 1.1Background to the Study

          Nigeria is geographically located in Latitude 150 North of the equator and longitude 140 East of the Greenwich Meridian. The country Nigeria is made up of 36 states of which 17 out of the 36 states are Northern states. But over the years, terrorist activities have crippled the socio-economic activities of the Northern states to include their socio-economic life. This Northern states include: Zamfara, Yobe, Sokoto, Borno, Jigawa, Gombe, Kastina, Kebbi, Niger state, Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Nasarawa and Kwara state to include FCT Abuja. This is clearly shown in the map below;

Map of Nigeria Showing the 36 states

Religious insurgency in Nigeria refers to Christian-Muslim strife in modern Nigeria, which can be traced back to 1953. Today, religious insurgency is dominated by the religious conflicts/insurgency, which aims to impose Sharia on the northern parts of the country. Religious insurgency also refers to armed uprising or rebellion against a government. The term has been used variously to describe revolutionary movements, civil wars, anti-colonial struggles and terrorist agitations, it is also seen as the state or attitude of being indulgent.

Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914, only about a decade after the defeat of the Sokoto Caliphate and other Islamic states by the British which were to constitute much of Northern Nigeria. The aftermath of the First World War saw Germany lose its colonies, one of which was Cameroon, to French, Belgian and British mandates. Cameroon was divided in French and British parts, the latter of which was further subdivided into southern and northern parts. Following a plebiscite in 1961, the Southern Cameroons elected to rejoin French Cameroon, while the Northern Cameroons opted to join Nigeria, a move which added to Nigeria's already large Northern Muslim population.[1] The territory comprised much of what is now Northeastern Nigeria, and a large part of the areas affected by the present and past insurgencies.

Violent conflict in Nigeria, like other parts of the world, has created a rift in human relations, among many other effects. Conflict is inevitable as long as we live together, especially in a multi-ethnic, cultural and religious community. However violence leaves us with various forms of retardation and underdevelopment resulting from the destruction of lives and property. The menaces of violent conflict have been on the increase in some Northern Nigerian cities in the last two decades. Most of these conflicts are generally regarded as ethno-religious bigotry and antagonism. Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, Nigeria, has experienced spates of sporadic violent conflicts since 1994[2].

According to Kassam Basil Fukshiwe, the conflicts in Jos are largely struggles over economic and political control of Jos, between the Hausa-Fulani settlers, predominantly Muslims, and the indigenous Afizere, Anaguta and Berom, predominantly Christians, religion and ethnic labels are used to manipulate, organize and control the conflicting parties. These have pitched Christians and Muslims against each other. The conflict has had devastating effects on inter-group relationships. Apart from the loss of lives and property, it has profound influence on residential relationships, leading to new trends in the polarization of communities. This is evident in a physical manifestation of mono religious areas in Jos city, with Christians and Muslims living in dominant religious clusters[3].

Following the return of democratic government in 1999, the Muslim-dominated northern Nigerian states have introduced Sharia law, including punishments against blasphemy[4] and apostasy. Several incidents have occurred whereby people have been killed for or in response to perceived insults to Islam. 

Nigeria as a nation state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has special economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation’s stability and can be traced to the ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage and environmental degradation[5].

In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in northern Nigeria, hereby halting socio economic activities in the region. Since the beginning of 2014, the Islamist militant group has conducted asymmetrical warfare in over 40 villages in the northern part of Nigeria. Thousands of people have been displaced as a consequence of daily attacks, ranging from the bombing of soft targets, such as churches, schools, homes, and businesses, to the kidnapping of innocents, prominent in the list of their dreadful activities is the kidnapping of 274 female students from the Government Secondary School 14th April, 2014 in the town of Chibok in Borno State, this has brought about international condemnation of the act of insurgency in Nigeria[6]. The Insurgent group activities are serious crime against the Nigerian state which has threatened its national security and socio-economic activities[7]. Damba Zau pointed out that this has posed a great challenges to the ground strategy for national security of which the primary aim is “to strengthen the Federal Republic of Nigeria to advance her interest and objectives to certain instability, control crime, quality of life of every citizens, improve the welfare and eliminate corruption” [8].

Terrorist activities destabilized socio-economic activities, increased crime and destruction of both life and properties of Nigerian citizens. This can be attested to by the mass movement of people living in northern part of the country most especially in Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno state to live in other states of Nigeria. This situation has made it impossible for the citizens in that part of Northern Nigeria to carry out their legitimate businesses. It is also scaring foreign investors out of the country.

Students have been forced to flee their schools. The gravity of the crises has made some state Governors to vow never to allow Nigerian students from their state to go to the northern part of Nigeria for anything. Terrorist activities also affected the posting of students of southern and eastern extradition on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to the north, to the extent that parents are strongly resisting the posting of their children as Corpers to the North. Insurgency itself, is a fatal blow to the noble objective of the scheme as a unifying strategy, the unity of Nigeria is seriously threatened by terrorist fundamentalist sect and therefore, considered to be a major potential terrorist threat affecting Nigerians mostly on the part of socio-economic activities of the country. The terrorist menace is posing a serious obstacle to a successful national economy. The warfare of religious insurgency has become a major threat to the national security and development of Nigeria due to the fact that its increased operation has caused diversion and removed government attention on some key areas of the economy, as huge amount of human and material resources are channeled into curbing the menace.

This study aims to explore the implications of terrorist activities on the national development of Nigeria.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

          Conflict is a great predicament in any human society, and most times, it is predictable. In fact, history indicates that conflict is an on-going process in human relations and may occur within and among groups and communities. In the case of Nigeria, the frequency of religious conflicts in the northern part between 1987 and 2011 has left adverse effects on the socio-economic polity of the people. In the course of these conflicts, Christians have at certain times, taken up weapons to counter the attacks from the Muslims, claiming to do so in self-defence. The study conducted by Kassam, Basil Fukshiwe gave an overview of the general concept and causes of religious conflicts in Nigeria and, advocates for ethical principles such as the common solidarity of humanity by origin, forgiveness and tolerance that could engender cordiality and understanding rather than sustained hostility and suspicion in Christian-Muslim relation in Nigeria[9].

          Religious insurgency have no doubt impact negatively on lives, property and educational development in Nigeria. Though, there is the dearth of quantitative evaluation of the catastrophic attacks, available statistics has it that between July 25 and February 2011; Human Rights Watch in 2012, reported a total death toll of 935 persons in 164 attacks. It was also reported that an estimate of 550 people were killed through bombing and other means; 550 persons were killed in 135 attacks in 2011 alone. While in 2011, at least 500 people were killed in terrorist attacks[10]. Apart from the loss of lives, there is also the wanton destruction of property worth several billions of naira through bombing [11].

The above scenario has dire consequences for sustainable and educational development in the regions of attack in particular and Nigeria in general. In the regions where the bombings are pervasive and the property destroyed potentially and in real terms, drag their economic fortune back by several steps. Besides the property destroyed, economic life in those regions is automatically grounded to a halt. People are no longer free to go about their economic and educational activities for fear of being killed. This is made worse as several thousands of people have migrated swiftly to other parts of Nigeria. The overall implication for sustainable development is that the economic and educational activities are fast deteriorating. The murderous campaigns and vicious onslaughts on individuals and institutions provide highly unfavorable business environment for internal and foreign investment, which is a major factor in the achievement of sustainable development.

The terrorist organization preys on the disillusioned Muslims of the north who are fed up with corruption and have few economic opportunities, Nigeria is a heterogeneous country divided by two religious beliefs aside traditional religion. The northern half of the country is almost completely Muslim (50 percent of the total Nigerian population) and the southern half is mostly dominated by Christians (40 percent of the total Nigerian population). Originating in the Muslim dominated northern region of the country, the movement other rejected everything deemed western. Some of them of the people in the Northern states had to close down; some of them had to retrench their workers while others had to cut down the number of hours of operation.

Religious insurgencies have reduced drastically government derivation from the affected regions due to restiveness in those places as well as reduced investment and growth of business in the affected places without excluding government executed projects. Insecurity in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Kano etc. alone has cost the Nigerian economy N1.3trillion ($6 billion) as a result of attacks by the terrorist group. It was further reported that the report monitored on the Voice of Kano attributed the development to a drop in earnings for nearly all businesses in the affected states.

       Another major problem posed by religious insurgency is the Fulani-Herdsmen and Farmers clash which was attributed to Muslim-Christian conflicts. Farming activities in some parts of Nigeria has been put to a halt. Farmers within this region find it hard to go to their farms as well as to get enough food crops to the market thereby, increasing price of commodity in the market. The government has spent huge amount of money on the renovation of buildings, and infrastructures that has been destroyed by these religious conflicts. Also, huge amount of funds from the country’s budget has been spent on the compensation of families who have lost their loved ones to the terrorist menace. Also, huge amount of money is being spent on the acquisition weapons, ammunition in other to equip the military repel terrorist activities. All these have affected Nigeria’s economy and all these have form the basis for the problem stated in this study, and this research work focuses on the effects of religious insurgency on national development. It is against this background that the study seeks to answer the following questions;

  1. What are the negative implication of religious conflicts on Nigeria’s development?
  2. What are the dangers of insurgency on national development?
  3. What are the effects of terrorist activities on national development?
  4. What are the socio-political and socio-economic implications of insurgency in Nigeria?

It is hoped that by the end of this study, the above questions would have been answered and attended to.

1.3     Aims and Objectives of the Study

The main Aim of the study is to examine religious roots of insurgency in Nigeria and the activities of terrorist in Northern Nigeria and its implications on National development. The objectives include to broaden the knowledge of the society on the dangers of insurgency on national development and the resilient effects of terrorist activities especially in recent times where it has threatened the Nigerian economy. Then, it would analytically assess the socio-political and socio-economic as well as religious implications of insurgency, highlighting its implication on international relations and national development.

1.4     Scope of the Study

The study is designed to cover religious roots of insurgency in Nigeria especially insurgency in Northern Nigeria and its implications on the development of Nigeria from 1914-2015. This is due to threat it posed to the country and its evolving nature.

1.5     Justification of the Study

The justification of the study is to ascertain religious roots of insurgency in Nigeria and the implication of insurgency on the development of Nigeria and to examine the effects of religious conflicts on the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

1.6     Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is that it will act as a guide to government in their quest to quell the problem of insurgency as it affects the economy of the country. Also judging from the fact that insurgency is currently a prevailing cankerworm and it’s very spontaneous and topical, this study will help to proffer solution to general public and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the growing need to eradicate insurgency in the country and the possible way to manage and cope with insurgency situations.

More so, this work theoretically will be useful to writers, scholars, journalist and the society at large, in order to add to their existing knowledge about insurgency and its implication on Nigeria’s development.

1.7     Limitation of the Study

Various factors have contributed in affecting comprehensiveness and totality in carrying out this study. Among these factors are limited fund, shortage of time coupled with academic stress, etc. Also, due to distance factor and insecurity in the area, adequate data could not be gathered directly, as affected migrants were respondents used in gathering data, also unofficial discussion by soldiers and reporter who witness some of the battles as accounted in the news media (electronic and print).

Despite, the aforementioned shortcomings and hindrances, this research study no doubt turned out to be successful.

1.8     Review of Related Literature

         The term religious insurgency refers to the systematic use of threat of violence to communicate political message rather than defeat an opponent, military force. Thus, the targets of insurgency are symbolic and the victims of insurgency represent a wider audience[12]. To achieve a maximum shock effective, terrorist violence is usually dramatic and provocative. Typically, small number of extremists who otherwise lack the capacity to challenge those in power resort to insurgency. A defining characteristics of insurgency is that its users expects rewards that are proportionate to both the resources they posses and the risk they assume. Insurgency is furthermore strategies that are not restricted to any particular ideology [13].

Egodi Uchendu has shown that the post-independence colonial conflicts in Nigeria has its root on the activities of the colonial masters which sowed the seed of discord amongst the different ethnic and religious groups that make up what we know today as Nigeria. Again, it outlined the examples of some years when religious conflict took place in the country starting from the 1980s. Consequently the work went on to show that constant religious violence in Nigeria which is often triggered by the extremist position of few Muslims has affected the socio-cultural, economic and psychological perception of Moslems in Igbo land[14].

The activities of this small percentage of Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria always stepped-into any little potential conflict situation to unleash religious mayhem on Nigerians and the country at large. The wind of religious conflicts in Nigeria has been more recurrent in the North which is mainly dominated by the Hausa Muslims but its influence is felt in the Eastern region of the country in form of misperceptions[15].

Muhammad, Wada pointed out that when the colonialists began to implement their gunboat annexation of the North, the Western culture was imposed on the people’s traditional culture. Soon, the British in their quest to engage in maximum exploitation of the nation began to play one religious group against another, through ethnic-politics; as a means to maintain their clandestine ambition. The British continued to sow the seed of discord and disunity among Nigerians using their divide and rule policy. The colonially motivated land and native right ordinance of 1910 which was aimed at separating the northern ethnic groups from the southern counterparts discouraged the movement of southerners to the northern part of the country[16]. This single act by the colonial masters prompted the ethnic diversity among Nigerians since everyone was not sure of the other religious groups. The Northerners began to see their Southern counterpart as their enemies rather than as one Nigerians likewise the Southerners.

As a strategy of resistance to the modem state, insurgency emerged some half century after the French revolution, when the term originated as a description of the state regime of terror [17]. Russia revolutionaries and anarchist in French, Spain, Italy and German established insurgency as a central mechanism in attempt to overthrow the established regimes, most of which were autocratic in the submission of Mclean who conceived insurgency as a pejorative term, also applies to the deeds of government of sovereign state. Mclean in 1996 pointed out that the term ‘state sponsored insurgency’, is often used to described the conduct of various government indirectly organizing or indirectly assisting perpetration of violence acts in other state[18]. Mclean in 1996 argued that in recent time, many countries of divergent ideological persuasion have engaged in this kind of activities while in some cases strictly condemning others forms practices[19]. Meanwhile, insurgency is contested concepts that resist precise definition. Since the term is both elastic and emotionally powerful, it lend itself to subjective interpretation driven by political rather than analytical purposes, it is also difficult to distinguish insurgency from other forms of violence. Such as, for example guerrilla warfare or criminal activities, if insurgency is defined in terms of the intension behind the action, is it possible to know those intension? What is the relationship between religion and insurgency, be noncombatants for example?. If so are attacks on security target act of insurgency?

Though, there is no official definition of insurgency agreed on throughout the world, and definitions tend to rely heavily on who is doing the definition and for what purpose. Some definition focus on terrorist tactics to define the term, while others focus on the actor. Ethnic separatist, violence in the 1930‘s provoked the League of Nations (League of Nations Convention in 1937) formed after world war 1 to encourage world stability and peace to define insurgency for the first time as: All criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the mind of particular persons or group of persons or the general public [20].

Therefore, bringing to our understanding that terrorist activities is pre-occupied with carrying out various degree of attacks on civilians, usually used by the powerless against powerful; International insurgency interludes terrorists attacking a foreign targets other than within own country or abroad[21].

This means that September 11, 2011 attack was an international insurgency while one of the attacks by the Insurgent group such as the police stations attacks is a domestic insurgency[22]. But it becomes complicated if religious conflicts is still a domestic insurgency despites it seeming connection with other international sect such as Hamas and Al Qaeda. Claver stated that: insurgency is the use of force to impact fear with a view to bring about political, economic or social change [23].

1.9 Summary

          This chapter commenced by briefly examining religious roots of insurgency using Nigeria as a case study. It as well slightly called into account how insurgency had begun. The research problems which necessitated this study were also clearly stated, while the objectives and significance of the study as well as the reason for the justification of the study were outlined. More so, this chapter treated the methodology, scope and limitations of the study while a number of related literature were examined. The next chapter therefore concerns itself with an attempt to enhance an understanding of the various concepts upon which this research rests.

End Notes

  1. 1.Meredith, Martin. “A House Divided”. The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, 2011. The Free Press. p. 197.
  2. 2.Kassam, Basil Fukshiwe, “The Causes of Violent Inter-Religious Conflict and its Effects on Residential Relationships in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria”, Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Jos, 2010, pp. 2-7
  3. 3.Kassam, Basil Fukshiwe, pp. 2-7
  4. Nigeria: Recent reports regarding the treatment of persons who convert from Islam to Christianity. Recent reports on Sharia law in relation to religious conversion, Ireland: Refugee Documentation Centre, 26 June 2012, Accessed 18 July 2014.
  5. Ilufoye S.O., “Domestic and security threat in Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”; 2009 Lagos: Sampters publisher.
  6. Bartolotta C. “Terrorism in Nigeria”: the rise of Insurgent group. The Whitehead Journal of Diploma and International Relations; 2011. Retrieved on 12/07/2014.
  7. Uzordike, U.O and Maiangua, B., “Insurgent group: Terrorism in Nigeria: casual factors and central problematic”; 2012. African Renaissance, Vol. 9(1).
  8. Damba Zau, A.B., “Criminology and Criminal Justice”; 2007; Ibadan: Spectrum Books.
  9. 9.Kassam, Basil Fukshiwe, pp. 2-7
  10. Amnesty International. Amnesty International Report on Saudi Arabia 2009. Archived from the original. Archived January 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/08/Nigeria-state-war-islamist-insurgency (Retrieved
  12. Bartolotta C.; 2011……………………………..
  13. Smith, David; “Nigeria talks into a state of war as Islamic-insurgency” (accessed rages; 2012). The Observer.
  14. Egodi Uchendu; “Religious Conflicts in Nigeria: Implications on Socio-Economic and Psychological Perceptions of Muslims in Igbo Land”, 2010, pp. 1-8.
  15. Egodi Uchendu; ………………………….pp. 1-8
  16. Muhammad, Wada, “Emerging Trends in Inter-Ethnic Relations and Ethno-Religious Crises: Some Implication for the Survival of Democracy in Nigeria” in Akinwunmi O. Okpeh O. and Gwamna J.D. (Eds.) Inter-Group Relations in Nigeria During the 19th and 20th Centuries, Abuja; Aboki, ND, p539.
  17. Labolt, Elise. “U.S. designates Insurgency, its offshoots as terrorist orgnisations”. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/13/world/africa/boko-haram-us/index-html (Retrieved on 16/06/2014).
  18. Okereke, N.C., “Implementing the Nigerian Defense Policy: Reflection on the Insurgent group crises”, in Mbachu, O and Sokoto, K.A. (eds) (Nigerian Defense and Security; 2012). Policies and Strategies. Kaduna Medisa Academic publishers Ltd.
  19. Okereke, N.C., 2012………………………………..
  20. League of Nations Convention; 1937
  21. Olaide Ismail Ar- “Insurgent group insurgency in Nigeria: Implication and way forwards towards avoidance of future insurgency”. Published at International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications (IJSRP) Volume 3, Issue 11, November 2013 Edition.
  22. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/08/nigeria-state-war-islamist-insurgency. Retrieved on 07/07/2014.
  23. Claver, C.; “Nigeria talks into a state of war as Islamic-insurgency”; 2002, P. 302.

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