Nigeria contains two major ethnic groups: Christians, who are located in the south and Muslims, who are located in the north. Over the years, tension within these groups have had a large impact on the economic, political and social aspects of Nigeria. Boko Haram is an Islamist Extremist group based in Northern Nigeria. The group’s name literally translated to “People committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad (O’Neill, 774). It originally began as a peaceful group. However, as time has went on, frustrations with the government and the economy, have sparked animosity. This anger has primarily been projected upon the Christian community. Boko Haram has increased its fight against the state, by staging attacks against government-run organizations such as schools and police headquarters. Boko members have destroyed “an estimated 1,100 schools this year”(Jazeera). As well as performed “scores of attacks on schools and universities in an insurgency that has killed at least 17,000 people since 2009” (Jazeera).
In “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War”, James Fearon and David Laitin discuss different causes that seem to spark Civil War. They do not believe that “Ethnic and Religious Composition” have a large effect on whether or not there will be a Civil War. Fearon and Laitin consider other elements of a country’s composition as having a stronger influence on Civil War. Some of these aspects include: economic growth and an administratively competent government. Fearon and Laitin argue that “government and non-government organizations should develop programs that improve legal accountability within developing world militaries and police, and make aid to governments (Fearon, 88).”
Fearon and Laitin’s argument includes several possible explanations for the breakout of Civil War. They argue that there are multiple reasons for Civil War and some of the main reasons include a country’s economic and political situation. Boko Haram’s actions, which they claim to base off of their religious beliefs, affect economic, political and social facets of Nigeria. Although Boko Haram identifies as a religious group, they make a much larger external impact. Therefore, Boko Haram does confirm the case of Fearon and Laitin’s argument that there are many aspects within a country that are responsible for contributing to a Civil War outbreak.
Fearon, James & David Laitin. 2003. “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War” American Political Science Review 97(1): 75-90.
Jazeera, Al. 2015. “Boko Haram destroyed more than 1,000 schools this year, UN says”
O’Neil, Patrick H. 2015. Essentials of Comparative Politics, 5th Edition. Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.