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  • Author: Freedom C. Onuoha
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since Nigeria's return to democracy in May 1999, armed nonstate groups have significantly undermined the country's internal security environment, largely using young men as foot soldiers. Among these groups, Boko Haram has grown to become a serious national, regional, and international concern. Estimates of the death toll from Boko Haram attacks since 2009 range as high as ten thousand fatalities. With Boko Haram and other groups seemingly gaining in strength, questions arise as to why young men join them in the first place and what the government and other actors can do to prevent it. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups conducted in Nigeria in 2013 suggest that poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and weak family structures make or contribute to making young men vulnerable to radicalization. Itinerant preachers capitalize on the situation by preaching an extreme version of religious teachings and conveying a narrative of the government as weak and corrupt. Armed groups such as Boko Haram can then recruit and train youth for activities ranging from errand running to suicide bombings. To weaken the armed groups' abilities to radicalize and recruit young men, the Nigerian government at all levels, perhaps with support from interested international actors, could institute monitoring and regulation of religious preaching; strengthen education, job training, and job creation programs; design robust programs to aid destitute children; promote peace education; and embark on an anticorruption campaign. Addressing the conditions that make it possible for insurgents to recruit young men in Nigeria can significantly diminish the strength of the insurgency, if not eliminate it altogether.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Andrew Walker
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. Since August 2011 Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public or in churches in Nigeria's northeast. The group has also broadened its targets to include setting fire to schools. In March 2012, some twelve public schools in Maiduguri were burned down during the night, and as many as 10,000 pupils were forced out of education. Boko Haram is not in the same global jihadist bracket as Algeria's al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or Somalia's al Shabab. Despite its successful attack on the UN compound in Abuja in August 2011, Boko Haram is not bent on attacking Western interests. There have been no further attacks on international interests since that time. Following the failed rescue of hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in north¬eastern Nigeria in March 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan played up the connections between the group and international terrorism. However, links between Boko Haram and the kidnappers are questionable. It is difficult to see how there can be meaningful dialogue between the government and the group. The group's cell-like structure is open for factions and splits, and there would be no guarantee that someone speaking for the group is speaking for all of the members. Tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consis-tently brutal and counterproductive. Their reliance on extrajudicial execution as a tactic in “dealing” with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand. The group will continue to attack softer targets in the northeast rather than international targets inside or outside Nigeria. It is also likely to become increasingly involved in the Jos crisis, where it will attack Christian indigenes of the north and try to push them out. Such a move would further threaten to destabilize the country's stability and unity.Now that the group has expanded beyond a small number of mosques, radical reforms in policing strategy are necessary if there is to be any progress in countering the group. Wide¬spread radical reform of the police is also long overdue throughout Nigeria. As a first step, jailing a number of police officers responsible for ordering human rights abuses might go some way to removing a key objection of the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Religion, United Nations, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia
  • Author: Aaron Sayne
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Many of Nigeria's worst conflicts pit the recognized original inhabitants, or indigenes, of a particular place against supposedly later settlers. These conflicts may be growing deadlier and more numerous with time. State and local governments have free rein to pick who is an indigene. Abuse of the label can foster deep socioeconomic inequalities, given that indigenes enjoy preferential access to land, schools, development spending, and public jobs. These inequalities feed into violence, although righting inequality may not be sufficient to end violence in every case. The indigene-settler distinction is also explosive because it reinforces and is reinforced by other identity-based divides in Nigeria. These differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and culture can be longstanding and deeply felt, but how they factor into violence is again not well understood. Poor law enforcement responses also help entrench violence between indigenes and settlers. Official complicity and indifference make prosecutions rare. Destructive conduct by the Nigerian security forces itself often becomes a structural cause of violence. Serious thought about how to prevent or resolve indigene-settler violence has barely started in Nigeria. Addressing inequality between indigenes and settlers calls for serious, microlevel analysis of local economic dysfunctions and opportunities, along with real official commitment to make and enforce better policies. More holistic understandings of justice are also needed. The worst hot spots will need a wide menu of well-planned interventions. Options include securitization, criminal prosecution, mediation and dialogue, truth commissions, victim compensation programs, public health and trauma assistance, public institutional reforms, education, and communications work. In some cases, building sustainable peace could take a generation or more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Chris Newsom
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Neither Nigeria nor foreign donors are investing enough to end violent conflict in the Niger Delta. While Nigerian officials opt to buy short-term cease-fires, such as the 2009 amnesty process, other governments spend too little in money and manpower to grow local civil society, engage core conflict issues, or adequately understand the region's problems. All parties likewise fail to focus on deeper trends when planning their anticonflict strategies. This causes them to undervalue the potential costs of ongoing violence, as well as the importance of a peaceful Niger Delta to Nigeria's economic development and global energy security. A tragedy of the commons results. The situation in the delta remains fragile and will likely return either to intermittent conflict or full-blown insurgency within six to eighteen months if a "business as usual" approach is taken to interventions. The amnesty process opened a door for stabilization but did not reduce the long-term potential for violence or deal with root conflict issues. Governance is both at the heart of the conflict and the best place to seek solutions. To best help catalyze peace in the region, donors should invest heavily in democratization and learn lessons from a decade of setbacks and poor investment choices. International support for governance reform in the delta must start at the grass roots. The key is to lay a foundation to support and argue for better government practices higher up. Civil society is already having some success promoting accountability at the community level. Obstacles are high and progress is slow, making longer commitments from donors a must. Reformers in the Niger Delta also have operated too much in isolation. Local and international actors need a multilateral strategy allowing them to combine levers and use each other's momentum. They must ground this strategy in deeper analysis of the region's problems and a unified theory of change. Donors should also complement their support of governance reform in the delta with funding for innovative local development work. Ideas and best practices should be sought from other countries, with flexibility for keying in to promising government initiatives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil Society, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Aaron Sayne
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria's climate is likely to see growing shifts in temperature, rainfall, storms, and sea levels throughout the twenty-first century. Poor adaptive responses to these shifts could help fuel violent conflict in some areas of the country. A basic causal mechanism links climate change with violence in Nigeria. Under it, poor responses to climatic shifts create shortages of resources such as land and water. Shortages are followed by negative secondary impacts, such as more sickness, hunger, and joblessness. Poor responses to these, in turn, open the door to conflict. Drawing lines of causation between climate change and conflict in specific areas of Nigeria calls for caution, however, particularly as the scientific, social, economic, and political implications of the country's changing climate are still poorly understood. President Goodluck Jonathan's government needs to initiate a serious program of research and policy discussion before taking major adaptive steps. Government and private actors also need to ensure that particular adaptive responses do not themselves fuel violence but actively help build peace. Successful adaptation measures will be crosscutting in design and impact, based on inclusive planning and implementation, steer clear of political patronage traps, and confront political and scientific uncertainty. Solid engagement on the part of the Nigerian federal government is key to achieving the best outcomes, even if most adaptation is done privately. Thus far, official responses have been weak. Along with better information and discussion, Nigeria needs a main federal oversight body to coordinate research and policy, larger roles for sister agencies, and an implementation plan. The country also needs and deserves the help of more developed nations in the form of both adaptation funding and technical assistance.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Corruption, Environment, Poverty, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Nigeria
  • Author: Ebere Onwudiwe, Chloe Berwind-Dart
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria's 2011 polls will mark the fourth multiparty election in Nigeria and, if a power transfer occurs, only the second handover of civilian administrations since the country's return to democracy in 1999. Past election cycles have featured political assassinations, voter intimidation, intra-and interparty clashes, and communal unrest. Party primary season, the days immediately surrounding elections, and the announcement of results have been among the most violent periods in previous cycles. Although the most recent elections in 2007 derived some benefit from local conflict management capacity, they were roundly criticized for being neither free nor fair. The 2011 elections could mark a turning point in the consolidation of Nigeria's democracy, but they could also provoke worsening ethnosectarian clashes and contribute to the continuing scourge of zero-sum politics. President Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in May 2010, kept his 2007 inauguration promise to create an Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) but failed to adopt key recommendations that the committee made. His successor, President Goodluck Jonathan, appointed a widely respected professor, Attahiru Jega, to head the Independent National Electoral Commission, inspiring hope that electoral processes will improve in 2011. The issue of “zoning,” the political elite's power-sharing agreement, has taken center stage in the current election cycle and will drive significant conflict if the debate around it devolves into outright hostilities. his unusual election cycle, local and international organizations and Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) must redouble their efforts both to prevent and resolve conflicts and to promote conflict sensitivity. The near term requires an increasingly important role for the judiciary in combating electoral fraud, and the longer term requires the creation of the ERC–recommended Electoral Offenses Commission, which would specialize in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. Local agencies and respected community leaders must remain proactive and creative in violence-prevention programming, irrespective of international funding. Established local organizations with preexisting networks are best situated to perform early-warning and conflict management functions. High voter turnout and citizen monitoring are vital for ensuring that the 2011 elections in Nigeria are credible and civil.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Judith Burdin Asuni
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The trade in stolen oil, or “blood oil,” poses an immense challenge to the Nigerian state, harming its economy and fueling a long-running insurgency in the Niger Delta. It also undermines security in the Gulf of Guinea and adds to instability on world energy markets. The exact amount of oil stolen per day in the Niger Delta is unknown, but it is somewhere between 30,000 and 300,000 barrels. The loss to the Nigerian economy from illegal oil bunkering between 2003 and 2008 totals approximately US$100 billion. It is time for the international community to become more proactive in helping Nigeria address this complex issue. Efforts to control blood oil must be accompanied by actions against corruption, illegal arms importation, and money laundering. The enabling environment for illegal oil bunkering includes high levels of unemployed youth, armed ethnic militias, ineffective and corrupt law enforcement officials, protective government officials and politicians, corrupt oil company staff, established international markets for stolen oil, and the overall context of endemic corruption. The three types of illegal oil bunkering include small-scale pilfering for the local market, large-scale tapping of pipelines to fill large tankers for export, and excess lifting of crude oil beyond the licensed amount. The complexity of players in the illegal oil bunkering business, including local youth, members of the Nigerian military and political class, and foreign ship owners, makes it difficult to tackle the problem unilaterally. Previous attempts by the Nigerian government and international community to address illegal oil bunkering have had limited success in reducing the flow of blood oil. The problem of blood oil needs to be addressed multilaterally. Within the international community, the United States is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in helping to dry up blood oil and address other issues in the Niger Delta.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Markets, Oil, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Nigeria, Guinea
  • Author: Raymond Gilpin, Martha Honey
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Although often underestimated, the tourism industry can help promote peace and stability in developing countries by providing jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting cross-cultural awareness. Tourism is the fourth-largest industry in the global economy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Globalization, Third World
  • Political Geography: India, Nigeria
  • Author: Jibrin Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Nigeria 2007 will mark the first time a third consecutive presidential election will take place and the first time one elected leader will succeed another. Many observers fear, however, that the upcoming elections, like so many previous ones, will be marred by electoral fraud and rigging. Because of the country 's history of electoral fraud, elections often have been associated with political tension, crisis, and even violence. The road map for the 2007 elections appears to be in jeopardy. The National Assembly has not reviewed the constitution to give real autonomy to the electoral commission. In addition, preparations such as registration of voters and issuance of voter identity cards still have not been completed. The major political parties are intensifying internal wrangling and elimination of rivals. The president and vice president are exchanging acrimonious allegations of corruption, further raising political tension in the country. Interethnic and regional tensions and conflicts also are increasing. Southern politicians are exerting pressure to retain power, while northern politicians insist that a long-standing pact says power should revert to their region. Over the past fifteen years, political tension has risen significantly in the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. Insurgency has spread and ethnic and youth militias have emerged. The state has lost the capacity to exercise authority effectively. The international community has played a major role in Nigerian elections since 1999, especially in monitoring activities. It is important that this help include effective monitoring of the whole election process. While the integrity of the elections can be protected effectively only by a vigilant citizenry, the international community has an important supporting role. In May 2006 the National Assembly threw out constitutional reform proposals designed to allow President Olusegun Obasanjo a third term in office. As soon as he began his second term in 2003, it was evident that plans were afoot to prolong his rule beyond the constitutionally determined tenure. The fact that he was stopped in his tracks gives hope that Nigerians will continue to struggle for democracy. A new consciousness is rising in the country that people must organize to defend their franchise. If a plan for a programmed failure of the 2007 elections does exist, chances are that Nigerians will combat it and try to salvage the elections. Observers are waiting to see if they can succeed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria