RELIGION IN PEACE AND CONFLICT: SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY ON THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY

Bright Edmond Okeke

Abstract


Religion, peace, and conflict are three phenomena that can be indicated to be interwoven. Every religion claim to preach peace while in actuality most conflicts around the world are religiously influenced especially in the Middle East and Nigeria subjectively. This is because religion can play a role as a source of conflict and also a path to peace. There are several religions in existence in Nigeria, some of which are exploited by some privileged few for political gains due to some violent concepts attached to the teachings of such religion.

As Huntington (1996) predicted, given the collapse of communism, the main contention and controversy in the world would revolve around religion. The religious tension in present-day Nigerian society tends to fulfill the logic of the above statement. In the past decades, Nigeria has experienced radicalism in Islamic sects. Notable among them is the Boko Haram sect. This group of Islamic faithful has resulted in the use of violence and terror in the quest for realizing their selfish ambitions which have been asserted by some scholars to be the Islamization of the Nigerian nation starting from Northeastern Nigeria by institutionalizing sharia law in the country.

The issue of the Boko Haram insurgency amasses great concern to the Nigerian government due to the continued killings, destructions, and bombings by the Boko Haram sect.

The vastly consequential implication on the surge of this radical plague is the dearth of socio-economic development in Nigeria which is extensively felt in the North. Illiteracy, increased unemployment rate, poverty, and political cum religious bias have been used as a catalyst to drive the rising membership of this group and in aiding religious extremism. The consolation of getting caught in the act is when arrested, members would only be expected to denounce membership, afterward tagged repentant and freed by the government of the day. This results in rejoining of the sect while the attack and trend continue.

 The activities of this sect in the name of religion have implications for the country and its development. This paper aims to investigate the role of religion in promoting peace, motivating and resolving conflict, the avenue made available by Boko Haram for its members and supporters to negatively express their frustration through religious indoctrination and pervasiveness especially in the northeastern part of Nigeria and the socio-economic implication of Boko Haram on the development of the Nigerian society.  

To achieve this, the study will examine the emergence and activities of the Boko Haram sect and its socioeconomic implication on development in Nigeria, the possible solution to the Boko Haram menace, measures to take in avoidance of emergence of a similar group, and also recommend possible ways to control insurgency and improve socio-economic development in Nigeria.

The adopted method of analysis for this study is the descriptive method. Due to the nature of the study, the secondary sources of data collection will be utilized. Therefore, relevant documents, texts, magazines, news publications, internet publications, newspapers, journals, documentaries, and organizational records shall be consulted. This study derives ideas from religion, history, philosophy, geography and psychology, the current state of affairs, peace studies, and conflict resolution.

The findings from the study indicate that Religion plays a vital role in maintaining peaceful coexistence, instigating and resolving conflict especially in a pluralistic society like Nigeria. It also revealed that Boko Haram is a radicalized Islamic sect that seeks the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria. It further shows that Boko Haram has socio-economic implications on the development of Nigerian society especially in the northeastern part of Nigeria where they have refuge. The research recommends that to curb insurgency in Nigeria, government agencies, non-governmental agencies, private sectors, public sectors, and the international community should help to rebuild destroyed infrastructures, sensitize the youths while ensuring that the captured Boko Haram members face the wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to the people. The security agencies should also be well equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and well trained for intelligence gathering to help win the fight against insurgency. Furthermore, there should be favorable policies put in place to attract foreign investors and proper security measures put in place to protect the investments in Nigeria. There should also be measures put in place to ensure that the Nigerian youths are well trained and empowered for employability and self-employment.


Keywords


Peace, Conflict, Religion, Socio-economic, Boko Haram, Nigeria.

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