Combing the Turf: State Legitimacy and the Cost of Insurgency in Nigeria

Mrs. Joyce Idahosa

Insurgencies are among the main causes of violent deaths in Nigeria. In addition, wide spread insurgencies have led to the displacement of thousands of people and wanton destruction of lives and property in the country. Their onsets have been linked to such drivers as state dysfunction, governance crisis, border porosity, benighted educational sector, ethno-religious marginalization, poverty and a politics of exclusion. Accordingly, addressing these perceived drivers is often considered an important step towards degrading the insurgencies. However, this article which relies on secondary sources of data disentangles from such emphasis by arguing that such perceived drivers are symptoms of state legitimacy crisis and not necessarily the direct precursors of insurgency in Nigeria. The article proceeds to link insurgencies to the festering state legitimacy crisis that was foisted by colonial rule and has been bolstered by post-colonial administrations. While not necessarily implying that insurgency is an inevitable outcome of state legitimacy crisis, this article argues that more than any other explanation, endemic insurgencies can be located in the fault lines of the Nigerian state architecture within which is embedded conditions that predispose people toward violence. Finally, the article submits that to effectively resolve insurgencies, there is a need to re-visit the structural basis of the Nigerian federation with a view to smothering exclusion, ethno-religious marginalization, poverty and their likes.