When Terror Becomes A Political Tool

Wisdom Iyekekpolo*

Brisbane, May 26, 2014 (Alochonaa): The definition of terrorism has remained somewhat elusive, despite its expression being evident.The thin line between freedom fighter and terrorist has further complicated our conceptualization of the term terrorism.This is not unconnected with the perverseness of political elites in different climes of the international community. I argue that in the not too distant future, states will define any form of government opposition as a form of terrorism. It is not a new phenomenon that we see Russia and China conceptualising terrorism in a different way to what the United States deems terrorism, and vice versa. Put simply, politicians and state leaders have complicated the process of conceptualising terrorism.

This confused, but rational state of mind has pushed my cursor to the situation of the Nigerian State and the now internationalised Boko Haram. Not willing to heighten my confusion, I have decided to refer to Boko Haram as insurgents for the purpose of this article. My position argues that analysis of the Boko Haram insurgency from all angles, assigns a substantial amount of blame on the Nigerian Government. I argue that the structural creation of Boko Haram is both a direct, and indirect result of the political environment in Nigeria. My motivation to write this piece is aroused by the ongoing political conflict that divides Nigeria; and as a result fuels the Boko Haram insurgency, with little hope for a future resolution insight.

After the infamous April 14 Nyanya bombing by Boko Haram in the suburb of the Nigerian capital Abuja; that cost close to a hundred people their lives, the ruling Nigerian party The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) carried out their already planned political rally the following day.  This was clearly done without an iota of the sober mood that had engulfed the nation. The President and his party members actively engaged their ‘party mood’ to use the rally for political leverage, and to launch politically charged attacks against the opposition.The All Progressive Congress (APC), the major opposition party in Nigeria, responded with a attack on the PDP, condemning the ruling party’s insincerity towards the mood of the nation, and engaged in the symbolic gesture of ‘sweeping’ away the ruling party’s presence from the rally venue.

Nigeria witnessed yet another bomb attack on May 20, this time in Jos, just a few short weeks after the Nyanya bombing. Both the PDP and the APC had scheduled political rallies, but the PDP called theirs off as a mark of respect for the nation, however the APC went ahead with theirs. The PDP responded by criticising the insensitivity shown by the APC, and their disregard for the nation’s sober mood. This is a case of the accuser also becoming the accused.  The opposition APC engaged in the same behaviour as the PDP following the first bomb attack – a direct contradiction to the opposition’s early stance. Both parties are guilty of addressing the attacks to benefit their own political agendas.

For those of you familiar with the political context of Nigeria, you will be aware of what is referred to as the ‘security vote’. These funds are rarely accounted for, and in times of crises, these funds are increased and accountability becomes increasingly difficult to locate. The Federal Government in recent budgets has increased the security budget, but with a lack of visible security seen anywhere throughout the country. The situation is the same within the three major states of Nigeria where the insurgency is the most out of control. It is also important to note that these same areas are presently governed by the main opposition party, the APC. Throughout Nigeria there is the echo of politicians benefiting more during this heightened period of insecurity. Put explicitly, some argue that the Nigerian politicians are capitalising on the chaos unleashed by Boko Haram, as political ammunition for the upcoming 2015 general election. This is arguably done by politicians looting more from the security budget during periods of insecurity as a means of accumulating more funds for the anticipated 2015 general election.

There is also the theory that Northern Nigerian politicians are using the insurgency as a negotiating tool for a greater share of the political position and for economic opportunities. This position holds that the opposition is sympathetic to the cause of Boko Haram, in an effort to destabilise the ruling government of President Goodluck Jonathan from the South. Such an argument supports this as a calculated move to secure the 2015 presidency. The threat by some eminent politicians from the North lays credence to what has been speculated – they will make the Nigerian state ungovernable for the Goodluck administration. Again, could it be that the President has left these three Northern states to degenerate under the insurgency of Boko Haram because they fall under the administration of the opposition, and therefore his party could benefit in the upcoming election?

It is important to state at this point, that no matter the Nigerian reality, the political game of benefiting from the insurgency will fail to produce any good when the game is up. Political parties and politicians can only govern a Nigeria that still exists in 2015. The use of terror as a tool of political ascension, or maintenance, must be abstained from. The Nigerian politicians from both political spectrums must converge and fight the scourge of Boko Haram collectively.

*Wisdom Iyekekpolo is a PhD candidate at the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University Research interest: Responsibility to Protect (R2P), International Peace, Conflict and Security, Insurgency, Terror and other Mass atrocities, and International intervention in Africa Current Research: Responsibility to Protect and its mechanism for the Prevention of Mass Atrocities: The case of Boko Haram in Nigeria

** is not responsible for any factual mistakes (if any) of this analysis. This analysis further is not necessarily representative of’s view. We’re happy to facilitate further evidence-based submissions on this topic. Please send us your submission at

Categories: Nigeria, Terrrosim

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