Why does Nigeria have corrupt leaders


Jan Sendet

To person

Dipl.-Pol., Born 1983; Research assistant on violent conflicts and peaceful protest at the CRC 923 "Threatened Orders", University of Tübingen, Keplerstrasse 2, 72074 Tübingen. [email protected]

Islamist terrorism goes around the world. Al-Qaeda terrorists have built a global terrorist network since the early 1990s. [1] From 2013 the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" rose from this. In a short time, the "Islamic State" has not only established a core state in Iraq and Syria, but also established provinces in many countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the region of The Caucasus belong to the declared sphere of influence of the "Islamic State". [2] In addition, he carried out serious terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016 in the "heart of Europe".

In West Africa, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram stands out. This is currently by far the most dangerous violent movement in the region: Since the start of the rebellion in 2009, more than 15,000 people have died in attacks in Boko Haram, 2.8 million have been displaced. [3] At first glance, Boko Haram seems to be in a joint battle with the transnational terrorist networks of Al-Qaida and the "Islamic State" and is also fighting against the West: The very name "Boko Haram" - roughly translated as "Western education." is religiously forbidden "- suggests that the Nigerian terror group has declared war on the West. Its leaders have also repeatedly stressed their allegiance to Al-Qaeda. [4] Attacks based on Al-Qaeda strategies have also been carried out on several occasions: Boko Haram was the first terrorist group in Nigeria to commit suicide attacks, attacked the UN office in Abuja in 2011 and kidnapped citizens of Western countries. Even closer ties seem to have emerged with the "Islamic State": In March 2015, its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted the oath of allegiance to Boko Haram, officially making the group the province of the "Islamic State". [5] Since then, Boko Haram has appeared in some of their propaganda videos as the "Islamic State in West Africa". The fact that the content of these videos has come closer to the organization suggests that Boko Haram has received solid support from the "Islamic State". In any case, the two seem to be pursuing similar goals, namely to want to establish Islam through a "holy war" (jihad) against the "infidels".

But what role do such transnational terror networks really play for Boko Haram? Is the group an expression of the global rule of radical Islamists or even Islam? Or is it rather a local terrorist organization whose emergence can be traced back to political rather than religious causes? What are appropriate solution strategies to end their violence? I will pursue these questions below.

Political, economic and social grievances

Boko Haram emerged from Nigeria's development misery. Around 2002 the group was founded by the local Imam Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri (capital of Borno state in northeastern Nigeria). Yusuf had previously fallen out with the leadership of the Islamist movement "Ahlus Sunna", which he accused of adopting an overly moderate stance in efforts to transform Nigeria into an Islamic state. Yusuf called for a radical break with the corrupt, "godless" and repressive politics in Nigeria by calling on Muslims to first emigrate to enclaves, there to learn the teachings of pure Salafist Islam and later to lead a violent jihad. [6] Given the disastrous living conditions of his audience, the charismatic preacher Yusuf met with a great response.

The breeding ground for the violent movement is the great bitterness of the Nigerian population about the living conditions and the social injustices. The core area of ​​Boko Haram in the northeast is the country's most disadvantaged region: More than two thirds of the population live in extreme poverty; in the state of Borno, the school enrollment rate is only 23 percent and the literacy rate is 12 percent of women and 38 percent of men. [7] Northern Nigeria is also disadvantaged by the continued existence of the Koran schools. These perpetuate the lack of economic opportunities, as they hardly give millions of children and young people the skills they need to make a living. The root cause of the failed economic and social development is that Nigeria's rulers have been enriching themselves personally from the extensive state income from oil exports for decades. Since the late 1960s, the state has raised hundreds of billions of US dollars, but almost all of the proceeds have been and are being lost to corruption and are still not benefiting the development of the country or the population. [8]

There is broad consensus among Muslims in Nigeria that these abuses can only be remedied if the state is reformed in accordance with Islamic law (Sharia). In the eyes of the Muslim public, the Sharia is an instrument for taming the country's corrupt elite and for achieving social justice. [9] The historical example of the Sokoto Caliphate, which existed in northern Nigeria for about 100 years (1804–1903), feeds this notion. In the region, it is still used today as a measure of a just political order. As a result, many Muslims had high expectations in the early 2000s when the twelve northern states surprisingly introduced Sharia law into criminal law. But the rulers were not concerned with actually enforcing Islamic law, as doing so would end their own privileges and corrupt practices. Instead, they used Sharia as a threatening gesture in a domestic political power struggle with the Christian south. [10] The Sharia law had now been formally introduced as a legal basis, but was not applied, which further increased the frustration of the population.

In this context, Boko Haram came forward with the demand to enforce Sharia law. To this end, the group propagates the need for armed struggle in the form of a "holy war" in which it takes action against the "infidels" and strives for the Islamization of Nigeria. The call for violence distinguishes Boko Haram from the political views of the majority of Muslim organizations and Muslims in Nigeria. [11] Leading Muslim clergymen have repeatedly criticized the violence publicly and declared it to be incompatible with their understanding of Islam. The fact that Boko Haram's calls for violence refer to Islam does not mean that their struggle necessarily has religious causes or purely religious motives. It is primarily a political struggle against perceived exploitation and oppression, especially by the corrupt Muslim elite. From the point of view of Boko Haram, this has lost its faith and betrayed Islam's ideals of justice. Therefore, from the group's point of view, it is necessary to force these "unbelievers" to adhere to the religious guidelines. Accordingly, Boko Haram is not waging the "holy war" primarily against Christians, but rather acts as a reform movement among Muslims.