Major Causes of Terrorism in Nigeria

Major Causes of Terrorism in Nigeria

Terrorism has been a pressing problem in Nigeria for the longest time. The past decade has been marred with many deaths of innocent people as a result of terrorist activities. But why is that? What are the major causes of terrorism in Nigeria? Let’s talk about it.

What is terrorism in Nigeria?

By definition, terrorism is the use of violence to achieve a certain political agenda. Terrorists use violence as a means of putting fear into the hearts of the people.

There are four ways terrorism is different from other forms of violence:

  • Its main purpose is to instil fear in others.
  • It has a much wider target than those who become its immediate victims.
  • Societies, in which terrorism occurs, consider it ‘extra-normal’; in other words, it violates the accepted norms that regulate protest, dissent and disputes.
  • Terrorism is mostly used to affect the political behaviour of social groups, communities or even governments.

A common typology of terrorism includes three subgroups: ethno-nationalist, ideological and religious-political. While there are some groups in Nigeria that have ideological and ethno-nationalist ideas and goals, most of them try to achieve them without using extreme violence.

The main threat comes from religious-political groups that want to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state. One of such groups is, of course, Boko Haram. But what are the main causes of terrorism in Nigeria? Find out below.

Causes of terrorism in Nigeria


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Nigeria has been suffering from terrorism and insurgency for many years. Different researches have different views on why there is terrorism in Nigeria. However, we think that Shehu Sani, Senator of the Kaduna Central Senatorial District, managed to define them in the clearest way possible. Here are twelve factors that cause terrorism in Nigeria, according to Sani.

1. The first cause of terrorism in Nigeria is distortion and manipulation of religion. Most terrorist organisations, including Boko Haram, use the sacred texts as justification of their actions. However, no religion can justify murder and violence. Their skewed interpretation of religion and preaching of wrong ideals is what keeps them going.

2. The second reason is the huge gap between the country’s government and its people. Quite often, people do not seem to be heard by the government officials. While some manage to deal with this in a civilised manner, others take to arms and use fear as their instrument of getting what they want from the country.

explosion aftermath

3. The third cause lies in economic and social injustices. When people are not secure in their positions in life and have no guarantees of what tomorrow might bring, the most unstable individuals become angry and violent towards others and their government.

4. The fourth reason is that terrorism is contagious. As you might have noticed, there has been a spike in terrorist activities in the world during the last few decades. Why it has happened is a whole other conversation, but it is evident that insurgency thrives from ‘successful’ examples from other countries.

5. Cause №5 is a terrible state of public education. Nigeria is known for its problems with education and relatively low literacy level. People that do not receive proper education (or those who refuse to learn because it came from ‘the West’) often tend to go a wrong way in life.

6. The sixth factor is unemployment. Ever since the economic crisis, many Nigerians have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new ones. These people are extremely vulnerable and potentially dangerous at the same time. In order to survive, some of them tend to make a lot of bad choices, which might affect not only them, but others as well.

large fire

7. Reason number seven is easy access to weapons. Even though guns and ammunition are not sold on every corner, it is fairly easy to get weapons in Nigeria these days. And when people that are already dangerous get access to weapons, they can terrorise others even more effectively.

8. The eighth cause is the abandonment of the Northern Nigeria by previous governments. The North has been underdeveloped, uneducated and impoverished. People that live in the northern regions of the country have always been neglected by government officials. This obviously makes them very distraught, sometimes even to the point of becoming violent and dangerous.

9. Out of this stems the ninth reason — economic collapse in the country, especially in the North. Factories are closing down, people are out of work, with no money to support themselves and their families. Sometimes there is nothing for people to do, which makes some people do stupid things.

destroyed car

10. The tenth factor is the violation of human rights and vigilante justice. As soon as people start taking justice into their own hands instead of leaving it to the law enforcement, the boundary between right and wrong disappears. As for human rights violations, it is no secret that Nigeria has a big problem with that. That problem is one of the root causes of such things as terrorism, insurgency and vigilantism.

11. The penultimate cause of terrorism in Nigeria is, strangely enough, capitalism. In words of Sani himself, he believes that because of the capitalist master-servant relationship that is present today, the country operates on an unjust and unfair system. In order to survive in a system like that, some people resort to desperate measures.

12. And last, but definitely not least, is the lack of ethnic unity in the country. Since its independence, Nigeria has been plagued by internal ethnic conflicts. Even though not all of them were violent, they still became the foundation for terrorism and insurgency.

And that is it for our list of twelve causes of terrorism in Nigeria. Hopefully, you now have the answer to the question ‘Why is there terrorism in Nigeria?’ It is a terrible threat that is caused by so many existing problems in Nigeria. Nevertheless, we believe that Nigeria will see the age of no terrorism someday. Share this article if you found it important and useful.

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About Article Author

Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design & development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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