Socio-economic incentives, new media and the Boko Haram campaign of violence in Northern Nigeria

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This article seeks to analyse and explain the emergence of the extremists Islamist Boko Haram sect that is currently perpetuating a reign of violence in Northern Nigerian cities and factors that have aided its rise. It takes a look at the changing political and socio-economic situations in the country especially from the early 1980s when, despite of the oil boom of the late 1970s, people’s standard of living continued to deteriorate. Following a field study in some Northern Nigerian cities and interviews with some Nigerians in the United Kingdom this writer argues that: the violent Islamist group is using religion as a decoy, as its main motivation is economic; it is capitalizing on the extreme level of poverty in the north-east of Nigeria to swell its rank of foot soldiers; and the growing use of the new media (the Internet and mobile phone) is rapidly contributing to the success of the group’s violent agenda. The article suggests the use of dialogue and reconciliation to deescalate the violence and economic empowerment to dissuade young people from making themselves available for manipulation and in the execution of campaigns of violence.

Keywords: Boko Haram; Nigeria; conflict; new media; religious violence; sectarian disturbances

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Liverpool Hope University

Publication date: April 27, 2012

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  • The Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) is an interdisciplinary journal that provides a forum for debate on the historical and contemporary aspects of media and communication in Africa. 
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