Centenary of failure? Boko Haram, Jihad and the Nigerian reality

Mohammed Sulemana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the two contrasting narratives of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria; namely, the global jihadi rhetoric and the domestic factors argument. A review of the numerous commentaries from academics, policy makers and security practitioners, reveals a heavy dose of the jihadi narrative as the dominant theme in the counterinsurgency discourse of Boko Haram. This contrasts however with mounting evidence and strong indications that the insurgency is grievance-driven and largely a creation of conditions within the Nigerian state. Against this background, the fact that the insurgents are persistent in their lethal campaign for a caliphate means that Boko Haram has defied the military might of Africa's most populous, and perhaps strongest, state. I argue that the renewed momentum and increasing sophistication of Boko Haram are a forceful reminder that Nigeria, and West Africa, cannot afford the obscurity that afflicts the causative discourse on this security threat. Furthermore, I restate the primacy of domestic factors, as opposed to the global, in combating political violence in Nigeria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-87
Number of pages19
JournalThe Australasian Review of African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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