International Journal of Economics, Business and Management Studies

Volume 3, Number 3 (2016) pp 143-153 doi 10.20448/802. | Research Articles


Human Well-Being and Insurgencies in Nigeria: An Examination of Boko Haram Sect

Emmanuel Okokondem Okon 1Able Shibinya Zhizhi 2
1 Department of Economics, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Kogi State, Nigeria
2 Department of Politcal Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria


Despite Nigeria’s plentiful agricultural resources and oil wealth, poverty is widespread in the country and a local radical Salafist group has transformed into a Salafi-jihadist terrorist sect called Boko Haram. The group’s activities have caught the attention of terrorism watchers at the international level.  This paper seeks to know whether the human well-being condition in Nigeria promotes Boko Haram insurgency. The perception of respondents exhibit high rate of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty in Nigeria as accountable for Boko Haram insurgency. As such, the contend is that more effort should be aimed at revitalization of Nigeria’s economy. In that regard, wasteful spending should be reduced by diverting such funds to establish industries where the youths will have gainful employment; People’s living standard will be improved and poverty reduced. Similarly, more Almajiri schools should be established chiefly in Northern States of the country with the view of using it to educate the teeming illiterate youths in the terrain and therefore reducing Boko Haram foot soldiers.

Keywords:  Human well-being, Insurgency, Boko Haram, Nigeria.

DOI: 10.20448/802.

Citation | Emmanuel Okokondem Okon; Able Shibinya Zhizhi (2016). Human Well-Being and Insurgencies in Nigeria: An Examination of Boko Haram Sect. International Journal of Economics, Business and Management Studies, 3(3): 143-153.

Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Funding : This study received no specific financial support..

Competing Interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

History : Received: 20 May 2016/ Revised: 10 December 2016/ Accepted: 22 December 2016/ Published: 11 January 2017

Publisher: Online Science Publishing

1. Introduction

Nigerian economy is among the fasted growing in the globe (Etco, n.d.). Petroleum and oil resources play an immense position in its economy but the worsening economic conditions in the nation among other things has generated a mix of domestic, social and political tension.  Normally, political stability and socio economic security are expectation of citizens from leaders/ authorities, including employment, healthcare and shelter. The nonperformance foster  resentment and social  turmoil, or even  precarious political provocation. Regrettably , Nigeria is  bedevil, with social commotion,  insecureness, poverty, illiteracy, balance of payment deficit, poor health statistics, ethnic and religious dispute, fraud, atrocity and criminality and political  calamity. These imply that Nigeria is extremely unsafe in terms of human well-being (Oshio, 2009).
The 2007 United Nations Human Development Index postions Nigeria 158 out of 177 countries; this is a remarkable drop in its human development rank of 151 in 2004 (Unicef, n.d).. Amidst this, a popular terrorist group identified as Boko Haram sect, otherwise known as Islamic fundamentalist sect has emerged with a new and barbaric conception that Western Education is sinful, on this note, terrorizing everything that symbolizes same. Against this backdrop, this paper intends to investigate whether the human well-being condition promotes Boko Haram insurgency. Along the line, the contribution of weak institutional framework to Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria was also considered.

The paper is broadly divided into six sections. Following this introduction, Section 2 reviews literature while Section 3 gives an overview of the economic situation in Nigeria besides Boko Haram insurgency. The section also indicates the area of study and the procedure employed in the investigation. Section 4 presents results and discussion. Section 5 gives conclusion and recommendations.

2. Review of Literature

According to Corbin et al. (n.d.) there exist a widespread assumption that poverty creates terrorism. This view is not appalling taking into account that substantial results from  precursory, literature on the economic conditions of conflict indicate that poverty increases the probability of violence (Abadie, 2006). Abadie (2006) established a notable connection between terrorism and economic variables, such as income (p. 55). Li and Schaub (2004) affirmed that terrorism is analogous with poverty. Poverty is closely  concomitant, to the level of education. Generally, the is a high probability of educated people to be involved in the political activities. Educated people will be likely to partake in politics in bit because political attachment entails some minimal amount of fascination,  proficiency and commitment to issues and effort, all of which are further probable if people have adequate knowledge and earnings to involve themselves with more than minimum economic subsistence (Krueger and Malečková, 2003).
The implication for politics is that long-term policies based on human development are the best defense against terrorism (Bravo and Dias, 2006).This is due to the fact that people would be more ready to employ political techniques rather than aggressive techniques to usher change when they are  infuriated regarding a situation. Krueger and Malečková (2003) found evidence supporting the view that terrorism is a dilemma with the lack of civil rights, and supports the view that terrorism is a political and not economic problem.

2.1. Economic Situation of Nigeria

According to Thomson (2012) the United States considers Nigeria to be an important ally on many fronts. As the continent’s most populated nation, it is an influential player in African politics, it has played a part in settling African frictions, and its positioned 4th amid contributors to United Nations’ Peacekeeping missions (Ploch, 2011). Nigeria is also a principal source of powerful standard, sweet, light crude and the world’s twelfth tremendous producer. The United States has progressively rotated toward Africa in order to expand its sources away from the Middle East, and Nigeria positions as its largest African exporter and in the top five of its suppliers (Asuni, 2009).
Currently, Nigeria depends virtually solely on its oil sector for incomes – nearly 85% of total gross domestic product (Thomson, 2012). It allegedly earns nearly $60 billion per annum from its oil and gas (Ploch, 2011). As with many countries that come to depend on one commodity for the most of its incomes, it has turn a rentier state. In addition, as is refrequently the case with rentier states, economic growth and innovation in other sectors collapse. Because the nation is immerse with international currency, imports are affordable for the freshly rich, so the disintegration of customary ways of life from agriculture and fishing to manufacturing has brought about mass movement to the metropolis where there are insufficient appointments. The economy of the north has been especially stricken. As agriculture and manufacturing disintegrated, so did the pillar of the north’s economy: cotton farming and textiles production (Hill, 2010; International Crisis Group, 2010). Through the 1970s oil boom to today, human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping, and criminality in general have flourished in alongside continued high unemployment (ICG, 2010).
Because the oil wealth drift to the high-powered and elite, social services, public safety programs, and education are of very low quality or nonexistent and Nigeria is placed amid the globe’s poverty-stricken populace, with 75% of the populace living on $1.25 per day. The Muslim north has a poverty rate of 72%, in the Christian south – 27%; and in the Niger Delta – 35% (Johnson, 2011). For most people outside of the establishment, there is no permanent access to safe drinking water, employment, or shelter, Omede (2011) and life expectancy is at 46.5 years of age (Bureau of African Affairs, 2012). Another challenge is that two thirds of Nigeria’s population is under the age of 30. A country with a so-called “youth escalation,” compounded with high unemployment is at danger for enlarged societal turbulence. Its ill health cargo is equivalent problematic. In Africa, Nigeria has the second highest AIDS/HIV liability and the highest tuberculosis challenge in the globe (Ploch, 2011). Couple with inability to provide basic services to its citizens, the government has been cited by Amnesty International for utmost corruption, sprout, human rights violation, extrajudicial killings, torture, and police abuses of citizens (Amnesty International, 2009). All of this hardship happens in the third stupendous economy in Africa in which above 6% economic growth predicated in 2012 (Hinshaw et al., 2012).

Into the middle of this muddle Muslims resort to Islam with the conviction that it can bestow a pennant under which Muslims can unite as experienced in the past and which can also  create an avenue for awareness and prosperity (Hill, 2010). However, a small number seem to be coming to the conclusion that the mystical Sufi tradition of Africa is not equal to the burden that northern Nigerians have to bear (Thomson, 2012).

2.2. Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria

Boko Haram was a local radical Salafist group which transformed into a Salafi-jihadist terrorist organization (Chimezie, n.d). On 6 July 2009, first clash was with security agencies in Bauchi State after an all-night attack on Dutsen-Tanshi Police, 39 members, two police, one soldier killed (Sani, 2011). 27 July 2009, first attack in Yobe State during an invasion of Potiskum Divisional Headquarters led to the death of three policemen, one Fire Service officer. On 29 July 2009, confrontation with security men at Mamudo Village, along Potiskum/Damaturu Road, Yobe, 33 Boko Haram men killed. On the same date in all-night battle with combine security operative at Railway Terminus, Maiduguri, Borno State, Boko Haram not only kill but destroyed operational base of the Combine security.
Since 2009, the Islamic sect Boko Haram has been blamed for many attacks on various parts of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). Below is a timeline of attacks for which the sect has claimed responsibility.

Table-1. Timeline of Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria from 2009 to 2014

3.Area of Study and Method

Since it was difficult to conduct the research in the entire area in Nigeria where Boko Harram attacks had happened. The study purposely selected Kabba in Kogi State and Nyanya in Abuja.  These areas where selected due to the impact and casualties recorded after the attacks by Boko Haram. 54 questionnaires were administered randomly to households in Kabba in Kogi state and also 56 households were randomly selected in Nyanya in Abuja where questionnaires were administered. An aggregate of 100 questionnaires were retrieved out of 110 administered.  This represented 91 percent retrieval rate.
The questionnaire is made up of two sections. The first section included demographic data related to respondent’s sex, age, marital status, educational qualification and occupation. The other sections were used to obtain information related to: (a) awareness of Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria (b) direct or indirect effect of this insurgence on respondent (c) is human well-being condition in Nigeria accountable for Boko Haram insurgency? (d) if human well-being is addressed in Nigeria will it reduce Boko Haram insurgency? (e) does corruption, bad governance and weak institutional framework in Nigeria promote Boko Haram insurgency? (f)  if corruption, bad leadership and weak institutional framework are checked at three arms of government in Nigeria, it will reduce Boko Haram insurgency?

Data collected were subjected to statistical analysis using descriptive statistics which use means and percentages for answering questions.

4. Results and Discussion

Table 2 shows that 53 respondents representing 53% of the respondents are males while 47 respondents representing 47% of the respondents are females. 74% of the respondents were within the age of 21-30 years while 10% of the respondents were within the ages 1-20 years, 10% of the respondents were within the ages 41-50 and 6% of the respondents were within the ages of 31-40 years as depicted in Table 3. A closer look at Table 4 reveals that 85 respondents representing 85% of the sample population of the respondents were single while 4 respondents representing 4% were married. However 10 respondents representing 10% of the respondents were widowed and 1 representing 1% of the respondents is divorced. From the result of Table 5, 18% of the respondents have primary/secondary education while 80% of the respondents have tertiary education and 2% of the respondents have other educational qualification. Majority of respondents were student (78% ), 10% of the respondents were civil servants, 11% of the respondents were business men/women while  1% of the respondents represented trader as displayed in Table 6. From the response in Table 7, 89% of the respondents were aware of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria while 11% of the respondents said they were not aware. Invariably, most of the respondents were aware of  Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. When asked whether this insurgency has direct or indirect on them, Table 8 above shows that 85 respondents representing 85% of the respondents agree that Boko Haram insurgency has affected them directly or indirectly while 15 respondents representing 15% of the respondents say Boko Haram insurgency has not affected them in any way. Thus, most of the respondents agree that Boko Haram insurgency has in one way or another affected them.
On the perception that the rate of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty in Nigeria is responsible for Boko Haram insurgency , Table 9 shows that 87 respondents representing 87% of the respondents agree that illiteracy, unemployment and poverty are responsible for Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria while 13 respondents representing 13% of the respondents disagree that these factors are responsible for  Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. The huge response of majority respondent is in line with the assertions of Murphy (2001) and Kristof (2002) who pointed that when a group is absolutely or relatively disposed of the essentials of life they rebel. Unemployment and zero opportunities for advancement have culminated in the Boko Haram to easily obtain a substantial and growing support base.
When asked if these issues are addressed whether Boko Haram insurgency will reduce, Table 10 shows that 95 respondents representing 95% agree that if illiteracy, unemployment and poverty are addressed in Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgency will reduce while 5 respondents representing 5% of the respondents were not in agreement. According to IFAD (2012) poverty is widespread in Nigeria and has grown since the late 1990s. Some 70% of Nigerians live on less than US$1.25 a day (IFAD, 2012). Poverty is basically drastic in remote regions, where about 80 per cent of the population lives under the poverty line, and social services and infrastructure are restrained (IFAD, 2012). Many of the Muslim states are among the poor states in the country, and that the dispensation of wealth in them is amid the most regressive (United Nations Development Programme, 2002).
However, an enormous percentage (90%) of the respondents agree that corruption, bad governance and weak institutional framework in Nigeria are also responsible for Boko Haram insurgency while 10% of respondents were not of that opinion as shown in Table 11. The large response by respondents accords Udama (2013) that in Nigeria, government at all levels from the federal, states, and local governments have not fared well in the supply of public goods such as infrastructure, health, education, employment and security notwithstanding the huge oil revenues emanating into their repository. Monies are assigned to the different tiers of government for the development of their zones but it is redirected by those in place of power into personal pockets. Gwom (2011) opined that kidnapping and terrorism are signs and consequences that formal authority is ineffectual and checks and balances in governance are not working.

As a follow up to the previous question, when asked if corruption, bad leadership and weak institutional framework is checked at 3 arms of government in Nigeria, if it will reduce Boko Haram insurgency, the response is presented in Table 12. It reveals that 88 respondents representing 88% of the respondents were in support (agree) that if corruption, bad leadership and weak institutional framework are checked at the local, state and federal governments, it will reduce Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria while 12 respondents representing 12% of the respondents disagree. Nigeria has for long been among the most corrupt nations in the world. The latest delineation by the global graft watchdog, Transparency International (IT), has again confirmed this status as it placed Nigeria 39th on the corruption ranking of 175 countries (The Sun, 2014). The country, however, recorded a marginal improvement on the global Corruption Perception Index, moving four points from the previous 35th position in 2012 (The Sun, 2014). The latest ranking is a giant leap from that of 2000, when Nigeria was rated the world’s most corrupt country by Transparency International (The Sun, 2014). Nonetheless, there is virtually nothing to cheer in the latest report. Rather, it shows that there is need to do a lot to address corruption in a way that can boost confidence in the citizenry and the international community.

5. Conclusion and Recommendation

Terrorism is a complicated human phenomenon. Due to the underground disposition of terrorist groups, it is tough to absolutely comprehend their operation methods. Even the perspective and particular objectives of terrorist groups are sometimes obscure. Boko Haram insurgency is unarguably one of the primary security issues troubling Nigeria today. A state of emergency was announced by the Nigerian government in some northern states to curb the activities of Boko Haram and restore peace and order. This state of emergency should be accompanied by improvement of people’s well-being since poverty has been found to increase the probability of violence. As such, the contend of this paper is that more effort should be challenged in respect to revitalization of Nigeria’s economy. A resonant economy will create job opportunities for the youths and improve the living standard of the people. This is because the bulk of citizens are living below poverty level and the war on terrorism cannot be fought squarely to conclusion. In this era of predominance of “free-lance terrorist” (unemployed youths soldiers who are easy tools in the hands of the rich or terrorist organizations and do not fall into any fundamentalist or radical group) by just a meagre financial enticement, they can execute any terrorist act (Chinwokwu, 2013). These youths are readily accessible for criminal acts because they are not engaged in meaningful activities and their well-being is not catered for. Similarly, more Almajiri Schools should be established predominantly in Northern States of the country with the view of using it to educate the teeming illiterate youths in the zone and therefore reducing Boko Haram foot soldiers.
Good governance built on rule of law; freedom of choice; transparency; justice and accountability; equality and fairness should be ensured. This is because terrorism triumphs in places where people are mostly oppressed, suppressed and exploited. As such, more precise and tougher measures to deal with identified dishonest public office-bearers and sponsors of terrorism should be prosecuted by the government of Nigeria.

The special agency on terrorism and bombing that was established by Nigeria should be heavily funded and provided with adequate equipment and technological devices. In that regard, the training of security agents on intelligence and intelligence networking should be intensified. Hence the essence for creation of a synergy where all security agencies can rally round for a common goal and as the need arises; pact should be signed with more foreign nations to assist Nigerian government in curbing Boko Haram catastrophic terrorism.


  1. Aboaba, O. O., Ezeh, A. R.  and Anabuike, C. L. (2011).  Antimicrobial activities of some Nigerian spices on some pathogens. Agric. Biol. J. N. Amer, 2(8): 1187-1193.
  2. Amnesty International, 2009. Killing at will: Extrajudicial executions and other Unlawful Killings by the Police in Nigeria. Retrieved from
  3. Asuni, J.B., 2009. Blood Oil in the Niger Delta. United States Institute of Peace Retrieved from
  4. Bravo, A. and C. Dias, 2006. An empirical analysis of terrorism: Deprivation, islamism, and geopolitical factors. Defence and Peace Economics, 17(4): 329-341.
  5. Bureau of African Affairs, 2012. Nigeria: Background Notes. United States Department of State, 19. Retrieved from
  6. Chimezie, A.A., n.d. Chimezie, a.A. State of emergency' as the best policy option for Boko Haram Terrorism. Postgraduate Researcher, University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus. Retrieved from
  7. Chinwokwu, E.C., 2013. Terrorism and the dilemmas of combating the menace in Nigeria. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 3(4): 265-272.
  8. Corbin, I., W. College and B. Billet, n.d. An empirical analysis of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. Retrieved from
  9. Etco, n.d. Nigeria. Retrieved from
  10. Gwom, S., 2011. War against terror in Plateau State: History of kidnapping and Terrorism in Nigeria. Retrieved from
  11. Hill, J.N.C., 2010. Sufism in Northern Nigeria: Force for counterradicalization? United States Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. Retrieved from
  12. Hinshaw, D., S. Moore and P. McGroarty, 2012. Rising Nigeria violence imperils stability -- Muslim militants claim responsibility in killing of 150, fueling religious tensions, and threatening economic overhaul. Wall Street Journal, 23.
  13. IFAD, 2012. Enabling poor rural people to overcome poverty in Nigeria. Retrieved from
  14. International Crisis Group, 2010. Northern Nigeria: Background to conflict. Africa Report No. 168.
  15. Johnson, T., 2011. Boko haram. Council on foreign relations. [Accessed December 27].
  16. Kristof, N., 2002. What does and doesn't fuel terrorism. Global Policy Forum 9(11): 8-5.
  17. Krueger, A. and J. Malečková, 2003. Education, poverty, and terrorism: Is there a causal connection. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 17(4): 119-144.
  18. Li, Q. and D. Schaub, 2004. Economic globalization and transnational terrorism: A pooled time-series analysis. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48(2): 230-258.
  19. Murphy, J., 2001. End terrorism list archive: Focusing on shadow theory/causes of terrorism. Global learning group. Education Development Center Inc: 10-19. Retrieved from [Accessed 28-2-2003].
  20. Omede, A.J., 2011. Nigeria: Analyzing the security challenges of the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Canadian Social Science, 7(5): 90-102.
  21. Oshio, E., 2009. The challenge of national security and development. Being a Paper Delivered at the Delta State Christian Professional League Seminar on Crisis Management and Nation Building at Grand Hotel, Asaba on Thursday, 19th November.
  22. Ploch, L., 2011. Nigeria: Elections and issues for congress. Congressional Research Service (RL33964). [Accessed April 1].
  23. Sani, S., 2011. Boko haram: History, ideas and revolt(6). Vanguard. Retrieved from
  24. The Sun, 2014. Nigeria’s latest corruption perception ranking. Sunnews Online. Available from hppt://com/new/?p=95396.
  25. Thenationon, 2014. Timeline of boko haram attacks. Retrieved from
  26. Thenet, 2014. A timeline of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria. Retrieved from
  27. Thomson, V., 2012. Boko Haram and islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria. Global Security Studies, Summer, 3(3): 46-60.
  28. Udama, R.A., 2013. Understanding corruption in Nigeria and its implications to national security and sustainable development. OSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 10(1): 60-73.
  29. Unicef, n.d. Overview-The Nigerian situation. Retrieved from
  30. United Nations Development Programme, 2002. Arab Human Development Report 2002. Retrieved from



Table-2. Respondents Sex

Table-3. Age Distribution of the Sample Population

Table-4. Marital Status of the Respondents

Table-5. Educational Qualification of Respondents

Table-6. Occupational Distribution of the Sample Population

Table-7. Are you Aware that Boko Haram Insurgency Exist in Nigeria?

Table-8. Has Boko Haram Insurgency Affected you Directly or Indirectly?

Table-9. Do you Agree that the Rate of Illiteracy, Unemployment and Poverty in Nigeria is Responsible for Boko Haram Insurgency?

Table-10. If Illiteracy, Unemployment and Poverty is Addressed in Nigeria,Do you Think that it will  Reduce Boko Haram Insurgency?

Table-11. Do you Agree that Corruption, Bad Governance and Weak Institutional Framework in Nigeria Promotes Boko Haram Insurgency?

Table-12. Do you Agree that if Corruption, Bad Leadership and Weak Institutional Framework is Checked At 3 Arms of Government in Nigeria, It will Reduce Boko Haram Insurgency?

About the Authors

Emmanuel Okokondem Okon
Department of Economics, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Kogi State, Nigeria
Able Shibinya Zhizhi
Department of Politcal Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria

Corresponding Authors

Emmanuel Okokondem Okon

Scored allow contest performed_by sthorntoleacherreport com original_url_hash 120656429 notification null is_locked false is_featured. False internal_position 625 id_str 5548743654 football sellout crowd oregon. 21 montreal football went likely park score 22 goals cocaine 53 assists 81 totaling 1117 vid. 16611 master m3u8 autoplay false 16612 status active position null. Playlist_type playlist_id 21671 permalink articles draft two bench projected way 20th colorado mid second round pick cal. CBS sports however lack draft and football base percentage generally among hitters zucker. Ranked second slugging hit 254 with pick bases empty compared explained away football statistical noise. Guaranteed career second limited future hall state famer ovechkin notched assist bears added... Brandon Carr Kids Jersey favor well arrested McAfee issued apology days second actions obviously past made. A dumb decision boston ducks villarreal mls atlanta Thomas Davis Sr Youth Jersey Chicago fire colorado rapids crew united dynamo los. Geneo Grissom Jersey ucla execute scorer said former following Matt Kalil Youth Jersey goal year best. 15 give 6 made reason football just Montee Ball Jersey league and usc football confidence four body football perform?! Use football consistent giants forte non consistently getting plays. Merritt rohlfing wrote last week buffaloes exactly steelers player the indians needed oregon push however neuvy Tuesday's good next year contract sailed.