Adeniyi S. Basiru is an independent researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, Nigeria.
On 29 May 1999, Nigeria was ushered into civil democracy, following fifteen years of military dictatorships. Since then, she has been confronted with myriads of domestic security challenges, chief among which is the terrorist activities of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, and its splinter groups. Perhaps, the need to study this deadly scourge and other ancillary violent crimes has led to a proliferation of books on the subject. One such book that recently arrived in the book stores is the book under review in the pages below.
The 632-page book, edited by Pius Adejoh and Waziri Adisa, is a collection of essays written by an assemblage of scholars drawn from the broad spectrum of Nigerian social scientists plying their trades in different universities. In all, it comprises thirty chapters, organised into five broad sections, with a foreword written by the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima (p. x). The first section, entitled ‘Historical, Theoretical and Research Issues’, contains five chapters (pp. 1–108). It opens with the introductory preamble by the editors, in which the background to the book and issues raised by the contributors therein, are presented to the readers. Justifying the raison d’être of the book, the editors aver, ‘the book … is certainly a profound intellectual discourse on the subject matter of terrorism and extremist violence in Nigeria’ (p. 7).
Following the editors’ introductory and justificatory remarks are four chapters focusing on the historical, theoretical and methodological issues in the study of terrorism and violent extremism in Nigeria. Interestingly, while Aworawo’s second chapter attempts to historicise the evolution of terrorism in the country, the duo of Owolabi and Ojedokun, in chapters three and four respectively, explore the dominant theoretical paradigms that could be deployed to explain terrorism and terrorist acts. To be sure, the central issue that is raised by these contributors and Oyefara, in chapter five, is that terrorism is eclectic in the grievances upon which it thrives in an environment where grievances are plentiful.
Section two, entitled ‘Factors in Causation’, contains ten chapters (pp. 109–324) and as the title suggests, the chapters dwell on causative drivers of terrorism in Nigeria. While Adejoh’s chapter six implicates the Nigerian State itself as the central instigator of terrorism and violent extremism, Wika, in the chapter that follows, berates poverty as the undercurrent of terrorism and other forms of insecurity in the country. The argument that globalisation has contributed to incubating the culture of suicide terrorism is marshalled in chapter eight by the trio of Akanle, Olorunlana and Shittu. Specifically, the trio submits that what is required to make suicide terrorism unattractive is a counter-culture strategy that puts off balance a culture that eulogises martyrdom.
Ashindorhe and Owonikoko’s chapter nine examines the linkage between religion, radicalisation and terrorism. What the authors clearly bring out in a novel manner in this chapter, is the argument that radicalisation, and by extension terrorism, is not the hallmark of any religion. How the force of globalisation has shaped the dynamics of terrorism and impacted on national security is the concern of the author of chapter ten. The impact of illicit trans-frontier financial and human f lows on national security is the preoccupation of Odoma and Kunuji in chapters eleven and twelve respectively. Even though the two authors adopt different methodological approaches, they submit that weak institutional apparatuses for regulating illicit financial and migratory f lows have, over the years, made the war against terrorism and other trans-frontier crimes even more problematic. The remaining three chapters of the section explore the roles of arms proliferation, regionalism and child soldering. Although, their subject matters differ, the central theme that runs through their contributions is that the menace of uncontrolled small arms proliferation, weak regional institutional frameworks and the thriving economy of child soldiering have impacted on the terrorism industry in Nigeria.
Section three (pp. 325–428), comprising five chapters and entitled ‘Specific Issues in Terrorism’, focuses on various dimensions of terrorism in Nigeria. While the issue of rising incidences of cyber terrorism and its impact on national security is problematised by Ndubueze in chapter sixteen, Johnson, the duo of Awosika and Fatai, as well as Eshiet, explore the issues of cattle rustling, militancy and gender in chapters seventeen, eighteen and nineteen respectively. The section closes with the contribution of Momodu and Temilola in chapter twenty, wherein it is argued that youth radicalisation, the precursor of terrorism, is a process and not a one-off event.
In section four, entitled ‘Countering Terrorism’, with seven chapters (pp. 429–583), the focus is on the strategies for combating terrorism in Nigeria. Suffice to state that while different strategies are suggested by the contributors of chapters in this section as ways of dealing with the monster of Boko Haram and other ancillary violent crimes, one that (perhaps based on its Afro-centric underpinnings) should warrant further pondering is strategic spiritual intelligence (SSI). Specifically, Nwolise, in chapter twenty-two, recommends the adoption of indigenous knowledge not only in the gathering of intelligence but also in confronting the dreaded BH and other violent groups. As he puts it, ‘Nigeria should begin to imbibe its indigenous knowledge, methods and technology for defence, internal security, intelligence gathering and where necessary, actual warfare’ (p. 472).
Section five, ‘Victims Handling’ (pp. 585–652), with three chapters, focuses on the methods of handling victims of terrorism and natural disasters in Nigeria. The central argument that cuts across the three chapters is that the methods and strategies for managing the affairs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in various camps in the country have hardly assisted the victims in coping with the traumas associated with displacement.
Overall, the book is a worthy addition to the bourgeoning literature on terrorism studies in Nigeria. Although a few edited books have previously charted this course, what this book does with its comparative inclusions, is to deepen the discourse on the subject. To be sure, the book addresses in more detail many of the issues that have only been tangentially explored in periodicals. However, a discussion that is manifestly absent is the domain of an Early Warning System (EWS). Aside this, a few blemishes were also noted in the course of reviewing the book. In the first place, the citation format is not uniform. It is obvious from the majority of chapters that the American Psychological Association (APA) was the preferred one, but in one or two chapters this was not adhered to. Secondly, there are also many syntax errors, cutting across virtually all the chapters, which ought to have been rectified via another round of proof-reading. Thirdly, since many abbreviations were used in the book, an appendix should have been created for the list of abbreviations.
Notwithstanding, this book is an inspiring read and a major resource material that would be of great relevance in research and policy circles, locally and internationally. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to scholars and researchers interested in the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism in Nigeria and beyond. It would also be useful to students of political science, law, sociology, psychology, history, and social work at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels; as well as security officials, media practitioners and the general reading public.