A comparative, whole-of-society approach to the Boko Haram insurgency that offers a more nuanced understanding of the risks, resilience and resolution of violent radicalization in Nigeria and beyond.
It is now more than a decade since the violent Islamic group Boko Haram launched its reign of terror across northern Nigeria, claiming more than 27,000 lives and displacing over 2 million people. While its territorial gains have largely been recaptured, the insurgency rages on, devastating communities across vast stretches of the north-east and disrupting governance, livelihoods and food security, as well as posing a security risk to Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Less attention is paid to the pervasive popular rejection of violent extremism on the ground. How did a diverse and economically dynamic West African society unravel so violently, and for so long? Why does radicalizationhave so little influence on large Muslim populations in surrounding areas, such as the Yoruba in south-western Nigeria, or the poor ethnically similar Muslim majority in central Niger just north of the border? This book looks beyond the details of the insurgency to examine the wider social and political processes that explain why Boko Haram emerged when and where it did, and what forces exist within society to contain it. Drawing on the detailed fieldworkof specialist Nigerian and Nigerianist scholars from Nigeria, connecting the worst of Boko Haram violence to the wider realities of the present, the book offers new insights into the drivers of Islamic extremism in Nigeria – poverty, regional inequality, environmental stress, migration, youth unemployment, and state corruption and human rights abuses – with a view to charting more sustainable paths out of the conflict.