The rise of Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect, has heightened the state of insecurity in Nigeria and beyond, triggering deadly bomb attacks on police forces, government officials, places of worship, public institutions, and innocent civilians. With the violence showing no signs of abating, this paper advances two theoretical approaches—a state-failure thesis and a frustration-aggression thesis—to explain the Boko Haram phenomenon in terms of its evolution, intent, enemies, and radicalization. The overarching focus of the paper, however, is on the factors that fan the flames of the terrorist insurgency, including security deficiency, endemic elite corruption and military brutality, continued economic challenges, decrepit and underdeveloped infrastructures, and inaccurate reporting. Accordingly, one way of resolving the Boko Haram impasse would be to address the causal efficacy of each of the foregoing trigger factors. It is hoped that when these issues are addressed, the likelihood that the discontented, aggrieved, and frustrated youth of northern Nigeria will gravitate toward terrorism as an option will be significantly reduced, or even eliminated.


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pp. 40-57
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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