Insurgency and Nigeria’s Relations with Her Immediate Neighbors in the Twenty-first Century

AuthorBabatunde Felix Obamamoye
Published date01 December 2016
Date01 December 2016
Subject MatterArticles
Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Corresponding author:
Babatunde Felix Obamamoye, Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo
University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Insurgency and
Nigeria’s Relations
with Her Immediate
Neighbors in the
Babatunde Felix Obamamoye1
Terrorist acts metamorphosed into an insurgency in Nigeria when
the Boko Haram terrorist group ferociously challenged the terri-
torial integrity of Nigeria and proclaimed authority over 14 local
governments. Consequently, Nigeria orchestrates counterinsurgency
strategy that incorporates her contiguous neighbors. It is against this
background that this article interrogates the rise of insurgency in
Nigeria and its influence on Nigeria’s relations with her immediate
neighbors. The article argues that the insurgent uprising reinvigorates
rapprochement between Nigeria and the nearby states. It concludes
that cooperation in this context for national security is inexorable for
mutual survival.
Insurgency, Nigeria’s neighbors, Boko Haram, Nigeria, national security
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
20(2) 157–177
2016 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0973598416674082
158 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 20(2)
In this contemporary era when transnational terrorism has recorded
an exponential increase, sporadic acts of shooting, kidnapping, and
suicide bombing are not uncommon in West Africa, especially in
Nigeria. Predominantly since 2009, this new generation of human and
national security threats has become conspicuous in some parts of the
Nigerian society and has also created general uncertainty. Attending
churches during Sunday services in those areas, schools during the
work day or merely going to markets (in the state of unknown) was
capable of generating anxiety attributable to persistent attacks on the
places mentioned above. Neither military barracks nor police head-
quarters which are considered as the nerve centers of internal orderliness
were secured with certainty. The security apparatus or agents of state
could no longer assure a safe environment for lives and properties in
the Northeastern Nigeria, most especially between 2009 and 2015.
Suffice to say that the aforementioned calamities and woes on Nigeria
and its citizen, which were regarded by some scholars (Olaniyan and
Asuelime 2014) as unprecedented in the areas of lethality, brutality,
and callousness, are not unconnected with the atrocities perpetrated by
‘unknown combatants’ under the umbrella of the Boko Haram terrorist
group. Apparently, the national security and territorial integrity of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria came under threat when the Boko Haram
terrorist group in 2014 mounted up its operational lethality and mutated
into an insurgent group (Zamfir 2015). Consequently, these unknown
combatants declared control over the areas subdued with the funda-
mental objective of creating a caliphate out of the present Nigeria
which would be governed only by sharia. The whole of Sambisa forest,
for example, and more than 14 local governments were reportedly
under the control of these unknown combatants as at January 2015
(Bappah 2016). Invariably, among others, the act of carving out a cali-
phate marked the turning point of Boko Haram from being a terrorist
group to an insurgent group. Such clear demarcation maintains obscu-
rity in the articles of many scholars (Olaniyan and Asuelime 2014;
Oyewole 2015).
Thus, this encroachment on Nigeria’s territorial integrity further
challenged her raison d’être which is one of the reasons why a rational
state may be certainly ready to declare war against either external aggres-
sors or internal rebels. Accordingly, this act of insurgency crystallized
the understanding of the trend of the phenomenon and necessitated

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