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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
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  • Published on: July 24, 2019
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The link between socio-economic development and rising insurgency in Africa in general and Nigeria, in particular, has been well discussed. This research paper argues that ill-advised socio-economic policies may be a catalyst for domestic terrorism. Social policies related to inequality, poverty likely affect terrorism in many ways. This work envelopes point of view and suggestions which aids the giving of answer to questions connected with the subject of discourse. It also discusses that social welfare policies—social security, unemployment, health, education and economic development system affecting GDP, Per capita income has the potentials to initiate insurgency. This study sustained the opinions that the origin of terrorism can be linked to poverty, marginalization, and clashes of political and social interests, authoritarian rule, or state failure. Supporting this argument, in the country today, the cross-sectional estimation reveals that the nation’s weak socio-economic policies correlate with the number of insurgencies. The findings of this study recommend that reinforcing social policies in the country may serve as restructuring or development objectives as well as battling of insurgency. A number of the recommendations incorporate; permitting amendments in current laws keeping in mind the end goal of inducing development and upgrading the way of life for individuals, making educational training necessary at all levels – from primary school level up to college level, providing productive job opportunity at all levels (in all geopolitical zones of the country) and the genuine inclusion of unemployed hands and youths.

Keywords: Socio-economic development, Insurgency, Terrorism, Poverty, Nigeria, Africa.



Every living society endeavors towards a few determined least way of life. It is opined that the quintessence of any political administration is to achieve the political, social and monetary well-being of its citizens. Developed nations in the world have made one of their premier targets, the advancement or quest for the welfare, safety and prosperity of their citizens. Therefore, policies are put in place and implemented.

Development being labelled as a multidimensional occurrence, which is a core subject, is the approach embraced by decision markers to help its citizens to boost their mental and physical potentials and become useful to themselves and others coupled with taking sustainable and friendly advantage of nature to support their every day needs.

Socio-economic development is a process that tries to single out both the social and the economic needs of a community. It intends to make methodologies that will manage those basic needs in ways that are functional and in the simplest benefits of the Commonwealth as time goes on. The idea is to find ways to improve and upgrade the standard of living in the area while also making certain the local economy is healthy and efficient in sustaining the people present in the region. Financial advancement is not restricted to commercial cities but also cut across both rural and urban dwellings.

Socio-economic development is the primary goal of every well-meaning government, and it is mainly reliant on the level of economic undertakings in a country; the level of economic activities is in turn ensured and enhanced by peaceful co-existence by people.

It is well known that the socio-economic development of a nation is evaluated on the basis of the enduring security, peace and stability status of the state. In the absence of safety, socio-economic development cannot be sustained as it destroys economic, human and social capital. One of the security challenges facing the world today is terrorism.

Terrorism has become a global phenomenon since the 9/11 and a kind of global awakening and enlightenment against terrorism has been created since then. Dealing with increasing threats from terrorism has become a major challenge faced both by developed and developing countries.

Africa is no more immune or insusceptible to the threats from terrorism than any other continent. Terrorism and other forms of violence which pose security threat has become one of the continents of Africa major challenge. Some of these domestic ideologically-inspired violent groups handle periodic bouts of murderous mayhem. Most of these extreme groups have attracted ample media attention. These are most groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, al-Shabaab in Somalia or Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Northern part of Africa, and Boko Haram in North East Nigeria. Moreover, it is suggested that a range of socio-economic and political conditions in Africa has given birth to criticisms and disputes that have been utilized by revolutionary individuals to vindicate their choice to violent activities. Nature has revealed that people who are subjected to unjust and undue treatment act in response violently, although sometimes the directs of the aggression are misplaced. Even though Nigeria is the one of the top leading oil producer, recognized as the most populated black nations in the world, and also one of the largest economy, Nigeria remains one of the very most significant and relevant nations in Africa.


The existing challenge of terrorism to physical security is threatening the Nigerian public on every front. Some foreign observers have related terrorism in Nigeria to some factors that include, political conflicts and unbalanced development that involves the horizontal inequalities, religious/ethnic distrust, poor governance coupled with leadership failure, and high-level corruption. In the world, today democracy presents nations the chance to rule by democratic principles and standard that ensures a peaceful co-existence.

As mentioned earlier, Africa is no more immune to the threats from terrorism than any other continent. Most terrorist activities in Africa are aimed specifically at African governments. Examples of anti-government terrorist groups in Africa are, the Radical Islamic Maitatsine and “Boko Haram” in Nigeria, or the pseudo-Christian Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda; others clearly seem to have a more worldwide agenda; for example, the al-Qaeda cells all along the east coast of Africa, and the Northern Africans and Sudanese, who have come back to their home countries from training and participating in the insurgency in Iraq.

Evidence abound that Nigeria is entangled in a firebox of insecurity preceding to scores of deaths of innocent and harmless civilians, foreigners, some members of the nation’s security personnel, elected officials and many government workers. The insecurity challenge has assumed formidable dimensions leading to loss of lives, properties and investments. The number of violence such as abductions, ritual killings, carjackings, suicide bombings, religious massacres, politically-motivated slaying and violence, ethnic clashes, etc., has increasingly become the regular signature characterizing life in Nigeria since 2009.

Against this backdrop, this research will review the socio-economic conditions that has precipitated or otherwise had an implication on the proliferation of ethnic militias and terrorist group in Africa with Nigeria as an exclusive focus. The research also reviews a handful of important themes related to political violence and terrorism in Africa (Nigeria). The study made would center on domestic and international trends, and the means through which politically violent and terrorist groups finance themselves, coordinate, function, and communicate (both internally as well as externally).


The aim of this study is to analyze the implications of socio-economic development conditions and the proliferation of ethnic militia /terrorists group in Africa with a particular interest in Nigeria. This goal will be pursued through the following objectives

1. To analyze the status of socio-economic Development as it relates to Nigeria

2. To examine the implication of social-economic policies on insurgency and terrorism

3. Explain various factors liable for regional imbalances and their socio-economic implications

4. To make useful recommendation for better socio-economic policies.


In a study of this nature, certain questions come to mind.

1. What are the causes of rising insurgency, ethnic militias and terrorism in Africa?

Secondary research questions would include:

2. What are the factors responsible for the socio-economic crisis and their implications?

3. How does poor socio-economic development relate to rising insurgency in Africa?

4. How does insurgency in Nigeria relate to poor socio-economic development?


The study adopts qualitative and quantitative method, which involves the extraction of primary data, and secondary information from the publications of Central Bank of Nigeria, National Bureau of Statistics and other trustworthy reports on the subject. The sourced data were analyzed using descriptive approach upon which conclusions were drawn.

The data that was sourced relates fundamentally to socio-economic development and rising insurgency in Africa with specific emphasis on Nigeria. The intention was to explore purposively by applying evaluation procedures in the study so as to draw a conclusion about the subject of study.

The method that was employed for data collections includes a visit to relevant agencies websites, internet surfing, and observation. Also, data was sought from reports and publications of ministries and financial agencies and Newspaper and online media publications. Furthermore, online source and electronic database from relevant organization and agencies were used.


This section examines the conceptual and theoretical basis of this study. The conceptual/theoretical framework merely describes the corpus knowledge, which governs and provides the link between the problem under investigation and the wider dimension of the study

Here, the study proposed to adopt the social cleavage theory relying on “Marxist Approach.” The choice of this method is influenced by the fact that it systematically considers the entirety of the society, while taking into consideration the inter-connection of social affairs, class conflict and the organic relation between the substructure (the economy) and the superstructure (politics).

However, there exist three major schools of thought that have dominated theoretical debate on terrorism. The first school thinking is the Psychology approach which focuses on personality, psychopathology and psychosocial traits of a ‘terrorist’. The second is the Orthodox—Realism and Liberalism approach that focuses on non-state actor terrorism. Thirdly is the Critical terrorism studies approach that focuses on state terrorism.

These theoretical studies espouse a general point of view on terrorism, neglecting the class analysis of terrorism. It is a fact that terrorist acts are underpinned by socio-cultural economic and institutional context.

This study seeks to fill knowledge gap by using an interesting but rather neglected theoretical discussion of Karl Marx’s ‘Historical Materialism’ in explaining the reasons for the trend of terrorism and ethnic militancy in Africa (Nigeria). The research work is fulfilled giving particular attention to what gave rise to the usage of terror, and what are the functions of social groups in the use of terror in the state, using Boko Haram and ethnic militias insurrection in Nigeria as a potential case.

This model is useful for a better review and analysis of the subject under discussion for it tends to offer better explanations on the origin of present day terrorism at the behest of the class antagonism intrinsic in contemporary global capitalist society.

It is vital to make it bold that the history of all hitherto existed society is the history of class struggle. Marxists believes that the oppressed, demoralized and the downgraded which incomprehensibly produces or bears the weight of making useful assets try to change business as usual when it gets to be cognizant.

Impoverished countries teeming with poorly educated, unemployed masses qualified by a widening gap between the rich and poorly combined with low literacy rates are fermentation tanks for dangerous and violent militants. The low levels of economic and social development increase the appeal of political extremism and encourage political violence and instability. The role of socio-economic inequality or class conflict was found to have played a noticeable part in incident analyzes of political violence revolving round Iraq’s insurgency.

Mostly on the grounds that open deliberation on the vital influence of economic conditions stays uncertain, there has been little consideration given to the part of social arrangements. For example, studies recommending that poverty and inequality goad terrorism infer however but did not contend that social program or policies may alleviate both and subsequently diminish terror. A couple of debaters contended that ineffective welfare programs or policies in a few settings may reinforce religious gatherings or groups instigating fundamentalist radicalism and, thus, terrorism. But the comprehensive consequence of such statements—more terrorism in settings with the ineffective welfare programs or policies – has not undergone scrutiny. Even though, some comment put forward that social coordination might have the negative influence, might displease and converge some groups making provision for them means to gather their momentum towards political radicalism and voilent ends which turns afterwards to terrorism.

The Nigerian rich and influential citizens, very few and always at the corridor of power, amass there wealth from oil ever since it was discovered back in the 1970s. The mentality, outlook, methods, orientations and activities of the ruling class have determined the voracious relations to oil, the crass and amoral plunder that has ensued. They further noted that the state is controlled by a dependent comprador ruling class that is accumulative, parasitic, violent, exploitative, client list, corrupt, profligate and unproductive being a neo-colonial capitalist peripheral economy.

With this perspective, one can conveniently say that militancy in Nigeria and rising terrorism in the African continent is associated with the consciousness of exploitation being perpetrated against the people, and the struggle to change the status quo.

Terrorism can be described as a weapon of the poor. Poor and poorly educated individuals are more likely to participate in terrorism, as they are more likely to see the increase in costs as small relative to the potential benefits

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