Graduate Program

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

David H. Carwell

Thesis Committee Member

Ryan C. Hendrickson

Thesis Committee Member

Richard A. Wandling


The history and politics in Nigeria have often been characterized and marred with conflict, ranging from political to religious, ethnic and electoral violence. In this study, Edward Azar's Protracted Social Conflict theory which advocates for a multidimensional analysis of conflict was adopted in an attempt to properly understanding the nature and manifestation of the current Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria. Methodologically, both the qualitative and quantitative methods were deployed. Survey's (questionnaires and evidence from social media) was conducted in the three regions with the aim of comparing and contrasting various perspectives on the root cause of the conflict. While lack of an effective leadership was the dominant perspective held by respondents and findings from Boko haram tweets on twitter, the study compared the findings from the survey as well as contending perspectives both of scholars and prominent political gladiators such as past leaders, and notable and distinguished scholars, human right advocates, and civil organization leaders from the various regions. The use of a chronological overview or a date by date analogy of the Boko haram attacks was also deployed to draw inferences on the possible causes of the current conflict. In the final analysis the Boko ha ram crisis was found to be motivated at first by religious factors such as extremism and the quest to revive Islamic tenets. However, from the turnout of events it appears that the current conflict is motivated by a whole array of factors (re-emphasizing Azar's protracted conflict theory) such as inadequate government action at both military and non-military responses, lack of political will and legitimacy to act in a decisive manner (failure of its Amnesty proposals and a late declaration of state of emergency in the conflict zones). However, two notable conclusions were made, at the scholarly level any analysis on the current Boko haram conflict must go beyond the publicly avowed intentions of the sect and must carefully examine its actions which highly contradicts its stated and publicly held intentions. Finally, at the policy level, there is a need for the government to apply a more tactical and transformational approach in search of solutions to the current crisis. In other words it needs to go beyond the current declaration of state of emergency and an all-out military attack which have human rights implications as ordinary citizens are affected. The need for an adequate partnership between security agencies at both the local and national level must be encouraged. This is necessary as it will promote strong information system and intelligence gathering. The government must also aim at checking the linkages between local insurgent groups and global partners through adequate training of military personnel and other security agencies.