History of terrorism, youth psychology and unemployment in Nigeria.

Author:Akanni, A.A.


Terrorism in Nigeria has taken on a different dimension in the last decades. Although the country is not new to terror-related attacks, its prevalence and the nature of weapons being used by these terror gangs now have created fear in the minds of the people. The scale and intensity of violence have increased in a spiral manner that has attracted a multidisciplinary approach toward a viable solution. Attempts have been made by scholars from various disciplines (Houghton, 2009) to identify causes of rising waves of terrorism in Nigeria.

Some of these include marginalization, corruption, poverty, youth unemployment, among others. However, irrespective of how and when it all started, the fact still remains that much has been said concerning this phenomenon. Several authors (Coleman, 2001; Horgan, 2005; Houghton, 2009) have presented many facts justifying terrorism, as well as its prevalence. An obvious paradox is the more talk there is about terrorism, the more reports of terrorist crimes dominate the headlines, be it in the press, on television or in the media at large--the less experts seem to have a grasp of what is happening.

By focusing (deliberately or otherwise) only on the selective features of terrorism such as legal and moral (Beetseh and Echikwonye, 2011), terrorist personality (Horgan, 2005), one might be misled into assuming the dominant relevance of a particular discipline, be it security studies, history, theology, psychology, sociology, political science or Black Studies. In this context, this paper attempts to examine terrorism from the perspective of Frustration Aggression Theory, and thus examines the social learning theory of Albert Bandura (1973); bringing to bear vicarious learning as well as reinforcement; juxtaposing an examination of the concept of terrorism in relationship to history (history of terrorism) and youth unemployment in Nigeria as a guide to terror disengagement.

The Concept of Terrorism

Terrorism, which has become a global phenomenon, is a deliberate and systematic use of violence designed to destroy, kill, maim and intimidate the innocent in order to achieve a goal or draw national/international attention to demands which ordinarily may be impossible or difficult to achieve under normal political negotiation (Horgan, 2005). Hence, the attractiveness of terrorism as a tactical tool easily attracts the attention of a target audience. is obvious. And according to Friedland and Merari (1985), terrorist violence is predicated on the assumption that apparently random violence can push the agenda of the terrorist onto an otherwise indifferent public's awareness, and when faced with the prospect of a prolonged campaign of terrorist violence, the public will eventually opt for an acceptance of the terrorist's demands. And interestingly, terrorism differs from mass killing or genocide in that the later focuses on killing an entire group, while terrorism focuses on killing only a few to influence a much wider audience. Unlike robbery and kidnapping, which are directed at individuals and are intended to extract money/material gains from victims, terrorism is directed at the state aiming at causing damage and mayhem (Attoh, 2012). Terrorists are attempting to communicate a message to some broader group of individuals, and, in that sense, those whom they kill are incidental to their cause. It is pertinent to state that terrorists do come from all socioeconomic classes, but the initial leadership tends to be held by middle-and-upper middle-class people (Horgan, 2005). The masses tend to be drawn from those with lower or working-class backgrounds, people also become terrorists through public appeals and personal contact Cottam, Dietz-Uhler, Mastors, & Preston (2004).

When an individual joins an existing terrorist organization, there is usually a period of disassociation when previous social and emotional ties are loosened. For some people, this process is started after some dramatic change in life such as divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, or educational failure. Thus, understanding the personal motivations of those who join terrorist groups may be key to gaining insight into why people join them in the first place, and why they are driven to commit acts of violence against others. Certainly, the motivation and purpose of those groups who employ terrorist tactics can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when we begin to categorize them because terrorist groups vary greatly, not just in terms of their diverse motivations, but also in their size, capacity and resources, as well as in their national composition and cultural background.

The History of Terrorism in Nigeria

Historically, three waves of terrorist groups are discernible in Nigeria, depending on their focus and tactics. The first existed even before colonial rule, and although they were in forms of age-grades, guild associations and special interest groups; they performed one function or the other in the overall interest of their respective politics. Examples include Ndinche, Modewa, Aguren, Eso, Akoda and Ilari and so on (Coleman, 2001). The second wave relates to groups, essentially based on kinship affinity, with presence in every part of Nigeria, including the northern region, Fernando Po, and the Gold Coast (Coleman, 2001). As Coleman (2001) has noted, such groups were formed as people began moving from one area to the other in search of colonial jobs. As ethnic associations, they were based on strong loyalty and obligation to their kinship group, towns or villages. These associations were the organizational expression of strong, persistent feeling of loyalty and obligation to the kinship group, the town or village where the lineage is localized (Coleman, 2001). Such group included the Calabar Improvement League, Owerri Divisional Union, Igbira Progressive Union, Urhobo Renascent Convention, Naze Family Meeting, Ngwa Clan Union, Ijo Rivers People's League, Ijo Tribe Union, and a host of others.

There is a wide variety of targeting strategies and subsidiary activities to be found across the spectrum of terrorist organizations operating in the world today. In...

To continue reading