|Terrorism and the Nigerian society: Examining the issue of global terrorism in Nigeria|
|Written by Kingsley Orievulu (1) Monday, 16 August 2010 08:06|
Terrorism is a devastating trend that our contemporary world has had to grapple with in most recent times. It is both domestic and international and has spread fear into the heart of states - weak and strong alike. However, it has been very difficult to arrive at an objective definition of the term, and even the United Nations (UN) has not been able to agree on a particular definition. It is a fluid and changing term, especially when issues of freedom fighting and self-determination are concerned. However, there seems to be a meeting point between the different views, as terrorism is generally accepted to be propelled by politically driven agendas, deliberate and well-designed violent strategies targeted at civilians and public facilities, with the long-term aim of using fear to achieve goals.(2)
On 25 December 2009, Nigeria made news headlines and was thus associated with global terrorism - at least for a time - after a 23-year old Nigerian attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound Delta airliner. The aftermath of this infamous act was the listing of Nigeria on the United States (US) terror watch list as one of 14 countries of special (security) interest. This article examines terrorism in relation to Nigeria, and analyses factors that can encourage terrorist inclinations within the Nigerian state and the options that the state has. In essence, it looks into the meaning of this trend to the Nigerian polity and the individual citizen vis-à-vis the present terrorist situation in the world.
Nigeria and global terrorism
On 25 December 2009, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab boarded the Delta airliner en route to Detroit with the intention of blowing himself up, along with other passengers. Though unsuccessful in his desire, his actions had serious ramifications for his country. Nigeria was blacklisted on the US terror watch list or among countries of special interest – a saga that rocked the Nigerian political foundation. This compounded the woes of Nigerian travellers to the US and indeed many other parts of the (Western) world, since apart from other ignoble connotations attached to the Nigerian passport, there was a new dimension - terrorism.
Many Nigerian analysts and policy makers blamed the US for blacklisting Nigeria on the terror watch list, arguing that Nigeria is not a terrorist state, simply because of the actions of a single Nigerian. Despite this fact, one cannot ignore the fact that global terror links have gone farther than Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen. Peter Pham notes that Al Qaeda is moving swiftly at taking root in Africa, and soon, Africa will be the new battle field.(3) According to Pham, Al Qaeda has plans to make Africa its new nest for the grooming of more terrorists in the military expedition against infidels, because the continent is a very significant region. This significance is not only because Islam is strong within the continent, but because the continent has become a haven for dangerous activities. The fact that poverty is so predominant, state and governance so corrupt, borders too weak and religious bigotry so widespread makes Africa an easy prey for terrorist groups - especially as they use religion and anti-western ideologies and propaganda to mobilise or lure disillusioned individuals into their network. This is where Nigeria comes in, and as a state that is notorious for weakness,(4) one cannot rule out the possibility of terrorist cells being run - though secretly for now - in the country.
Internal violent uprisings in Nigeria: A recipe for terrorism?
There are a number of issues and environments in Nigeria that can elicit terrorism or create some ominous links with terrorism , and despite denials to the contrary, the persistence of these tendencies could spell a new dawn for the issue of terrorism in Nigeria, especially as Al Qaeda has been quoted as offering to train Islamic militants against their religious opponents in the country.(5) Some of the issues that the Nigerian state has had to grapple with are as follows:
Evaluating terrorist threats in Nigeria
Terrorism in terms of a politically motivated violence targeted at innocent non-combatants by a clandestine group may be too much of a tag to place on Nigeria. However, the rate of corruption in the country, the porosity of its borders, the widely spreading anti-Western feeling among Muslim fundamentalists, and the rate of poverty in the country are loopholes that terrorist groups can build upon to establish terrorist cells in Nigeria - if there are none already in existence. To conclude therefore, Nigeria is not a terrorist state, but these issues demand attention because terrorism in its present stage of evolution may engulf the nation.
(1) Contact Kingsley Orievulu through Consultancy Africa Intelligence's Conflict & Terrorism Unit (