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May 3, 2014

Nigeria is currently faced with serious domestic challenges. While the state is not officially at war, it is standing on the precipice, especially with the eruption of violence occasioned by the emergence of the Boko Haram sect and the tenuous peace in the Niger Delta. With the 2015 general elections on the horizon, fears of further violence and disintegration are rife, more so because of the debate over who occupies the Presidential Villa at Abuja. President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, seems poised for a comeback even amidst the vociferous challenge posed by the political elites of northern Nigeria. This article looks at the different scenarios that might play out in 2015. It analyses the challenges of the survival of the Nigerian state, and makes some policy recommendations that Nigeria and its people need to put into place in order to ensure its survival beyond 2015.

Nigeria has a date with destiny come 2015. To most people, it is just another year in history. To the general population of Nigeria, it is an election year that would usually be fraught with the challenges and opportunities of a Nigerian election year: campaigns, cash for potential voters, distribution of food materials, thuggery, and so on. Many politicians are already positioning themselves in order to out-scheme their opponents come 2015, trusting and hoping that there will be a semblance of internal party democracy, which has hitherto been in very short supply among the political parties that ply their trade in Nigeria. Yet, in others, especially the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), there are mixed feelings as to the process of electing party representatives, especially at the presidential level.

This, while an internal party issue, is a cause of concern for most citizens, even the opposition parties. The emergence of a ‘grand’ opposition party – the All Progressive Congress (APC) – which is the result of a merger between the Bola Tinubu-led Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Muhammadu Buhari-led Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), and the breakaway group led by the Governor of Imo State the All Progressive’s Grand Alliance (APGA) – targeted at supplanting the PDP, has also made the contest more intense. It is, therefore, against the background of expectations and aspirations for who occupies Aso Rock, as the presidential villa in Nigeria is known, that the following analysis is made.

In 2005, a report credited to the United States (US) Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ‘predicted’ the possible collapse of Nigeria in 2015, a clear 10 years away from its analytical prediction (1). Any observer of Nigerian politics, especially in post-civil war Nigeria, could have predicted the possible collapse of the country. In fact, many did, especially against the backdrop of the continued targeted killings and marginalisation of the Igbo people, the main ethnic group that made up the Republic of Biafra during the war (2). The marginalisation existed notwithstanding the declaration of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ by Yakubu Gowon’s regime at the end of the war, indicating that the Igbo would be integrated into the mainstream of the Nigerian project. However, such predictions and analysis were not bold enough to put terminal dates to their analysis. One could even argue that the emergence of militancy in the Niger Delta region was almost fulfilling such predictions.

So, why is the alleged CIA prediction potent? What made it so bold as to put the terminal date at 2015? Is the prediction so cast in stone that it must come to pass? In other words, what can Nigeria do to avert this ‘curse’? The potency of the prediction is grounded in the alleged source itself: the CIA. Not that the CIA never gets it wrong – after all, it did not get 11 September 2001 right, despite the post facto analysis to the contrary. It equally did not get Iraq right, although that could have been deliberate, especially with the benefit of hindsight; it seems that the US’s real intention in Iraq was for a regime change in order to control the oil fields. Neither has the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the agency charged with internal security, been able to stem all the terrorist activities targeted at the US within its own borders. Its potency, therefore, rests more on its definitiveness about the year 2015, and also on the knowledge that the CIA has in the past been implicated in fomenting trouble in states that it wanted to take over; the CIA’s forays into Central and South American states in the 1980s, and its failure despite repeated attempts in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, are apt instances of such interference (3).

Nigeria was at the height of insurgency, occasioned by the Niger Delta militants, in 2005; the criminality that the insurgency spawned not only in the country, but in the region as well, was the worst Nigeria had experienced since the civil war. Even the civil and religious disturbances that dotted the northern section of Nigeria could not be compared to it. Although the northern disturbances led to more deaths, especially of southern Christians, due to the effect the insurgency had on Nigeria’s economic mainstay – oil – it struck at the heart of Abuja. It should be recalled that Nigeria’s crude oil output was at half of its current 2,5 million barrels per day at the height of the Niger Delta insurgency (4). With Nigeria’s main source of income cut off, and the level of insecurity in the country in 2005, the CIA could indeed have surmised that Nigeria had just 10 years on its economic and political lifeline.

The perceived strength of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s pseudo-democratic rule, laced with military tactics, was able to hold Nigeria together during his regime, from 1999 to 2007. The foisting of late President Yar’Adua on the country in 2007 by Obasanjo, who had failed in his desperate attempt to secure another presidential term, was seen by some as Obasanjo’s way of punishing the country for rejecting his much sought-after third term in office (5). Those who share the above view argue that Obasanjo, knowing the health limitations of Yar’Adua, calculated that he would be redundant while in office, thereby making Nigerians wish that they had given Obasanjo the tenure elongation (6). In fact, this was the mood of the country during Yar’Adua’s first year in office.

However, the late Yar’Adua’s masterstroke in pacifying the militants of the Niger Delta through the granting of an amnesty saw relative peace and security returning to the creeks. This single act shored up Nigeria’s crude oil output to an all-time high, estimated at 2,53 million barrels per day, as the 2013 budget suggests (7). This, therefore, discountenances the Niger Delta militancy as a source of Nigeria’s disintegration.

Nevertheless, the level of insecurity spawned by the insurgency in other parts of Nigeria, particularly the south-eastern geopolitical zone, continued, although it was not at the level of decimating Nigeria. It was within the above context that the south and south-east witnessed an explosion in kidnapping-for-ransom and an increase in other violent crimes (8). While the Niger Delta insurgency was mainly responsible for the rise of contact crimes in Nigeria after the 1990s, another factor often neglected is the dying off of such non-contact crimes such as advance-fee fraud, known colloquially as 419 scams. The fraudsters who were left in the lurch therefore migrated to crimes such as kidnapping, as it was relatively easier than conventional armed robbery and perceived to be more ‘sophisticated’ (9).

The above notwithstanding, this insecurity was still not enough for Nigeria to be considered a failed state (10). While Yar’Adua was generally regarded as a very slow-acting president – it took him about four months to form his cabinet – his masterstroke in dealing with the Niger Delta insurgency has seen debates on the amnesty’s merits and demerits dominating the political, social media and academic space of Nigeria (11). What is very clear, though, is that it curbed, to a large extent, the organised armed insurgency in the Delta, even if it did not curb the criminality that it midwifed. The current posturing by Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer People’s Force (NDVPF), and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) might, however, destabilise the relative peace and trigger the return of insurgency to the region.

The Insurgencies Grow
With the ‘settlement’ of the Niger Delta insurgents, Nigeria saw an increase in another form of insurgency rooted in religious fundamentalism, known as the Boko Haram insurgents. Officially named Jamā‘at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-da‘wa wal-Jihād (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad), Boko Haram, which loosely translates to ‘Western education is sinful’, is a fundamentalist Islamic organisation. Its operational base was originally restricted to the north-eastern region of Nigeria. Over the years, however, it has spread through the northern states, and even made an audacious strike at the country’s capital, Abuja, targeting it at least three times in succession (12). The bombing of the United Nations (UN) House in August 2011 forced the insurgents onto the international scene (13).

The group, which was originally founded in 2001 by Mohammed Yusuf, seeks the enthronement of Sharia law in Nigeria, a feat that will not be easily achievable. This is against the backdrop of the religious mix of Nigeria, where its Muslim and Christian population is almost at a par, and where the northern part of Nigeria is mainly Islamic, while the southern part is mainly Christian (14). Boko Haram’s debut in the already security-weak Nigeria was not surprising. The northern part of Nigeria has been a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism dating back to the Islamic jihad that established the Sokoto Caliphate in the early 19th century (15). There is also an argument that, as a result of the historical involvement of the Salafist school of Islam in its formation, Boko Haram emerged to challenge everything ‘Western’ in Nigeria (16). The insurgency by Mohammed Marwa, otherwise known as Maitatsine, in the mid-1970s saw the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in modern-day Nigeria, although there have always been pockets of religious conflict, mainly in the northern part of Nigeria. In 2009, Boko Haram made its presence felt, violently, on the political landscape of Nigeria. Its violent activities, while initially restricted to the north-east of Nigeria, soon spread to other parts of the country.

It is argued by some that the alleged unlawful killing of Yusuf in 2009 by Nigeria’s security agents is the driving factor behind the sect’s anger at the security agencies in Nigeria. While this argument may be valid, it does not explain Boko Haram’s avowed violence against the mainly Christian minority in the north of Nigeria; neither does it explain what originally led to Yusuf’s alleged killing by the security agents. The only explanation for this is rooted in Boko Haram’s avowed hatred of all that is Western. To the sect, therefore, the Christian northerners and southerners represent all that is sinful (haram). While it is not the remit of this analysis to discuss in detail the activities of the sect or its metamorphosis, suffice it to mention that three strands of Boko Haram have been identified: the religious Boko Haram, the political Boko Haram, and the criminal Boko Haram (17). Interestingly, other insurgent groups are beginning to mimic the Boko Haram mode of attacks against security agents and against the civilian populace (18).

Another school of thought, however, is of the view that Boko Haram is a tool that the northern oligarchy utilised against the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan for daring, as a southerner, to occupy the presidency when it was the ‘turn’ of the north to do so (19). This view is situated within the context of Boko Haram’s insurgency rising to its height during Jonathan’s presidency, and of the northern oligarchy’s posturing that ‘it will make Nigeria ungovernable’ for him (20). There are indications that some of these north-eastern political elites had a hand in creating this ‘Frankenstein’s monster’, which they are now unable to control as it also threatens to consume them (21).

One is, however, also tempted to analyse the emergence and sustenance of Boko Haram from the perspective of poverty. As a consequence of the endemic underdevelopment and poverty in the northern states of Nigeria, and particularly in the north-east, the jihadist preaching of Yusuf appealed to a majority of the talakawas (peasants).

Whatever theory best explains the Boko Haram insurgency, the fact is that its emergence has created a major security challenge for Nigeria and has also cast the government of Jonathan, at least in the summation of Nigerians, as a very weak one. It has also elevated Nigeria to the unenviable rank of a terrorist country, hence unsafe for business. Notwithstanding Jonathan’s seemingly tough words following the violence in the north that greeted his announcement as the elected president in April 2011, Nigerians do not think that he has done enough to guarantee their safety and security in the country.

The Quest for Presidency
Amid this general lack of performance, especially on the security front, the debate over whether Jonathan should stand for re-election in 2015 is rife. The debate has taken several forms, even to the extent of a lawsuit by one Cyriacus Njoku of the ruling PDP, seeking to declare Jonathan ineligible to stand for re-election (22). However, the angle of the debate that is both concerning and dangerous to the corporate existence of Nigeria in 2015 is the ethnic/regional dimension.

The geographical north argues that it is its ‘turn’ to produce a presidential candidate for the PDP and, hence, Jonathan should not contest the party nomination. This argument is predicated on the assumption that whomever the PDP presents as its presidential candidate will ‘sweep’ the pools at the election. The argument is based on the fact that Yar’Adua did not serve out his term in office, and that the north was ‘cheated’ out of its second term in office following the death of Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s ‘usurping’ its chance in 2011 (23).

There have been alliances across party lines to ‘shop’ for a consensus candidate for the north. In the run-up to the 2011 presidential election, ‘northern leaders’ in the PDP – including former military president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and ex-vice president Atiku Mohammed Abubakar – also sought for a consensus candidate. They settled for Abubakar, but through superior political manoeuvrings, Jonathan emerged as the party’s flag bearer and went on to win the election. The fielding of only northerners by the other top political parties in Nigeria – the ANPP, the CPC, and even the ACN, which is considered more a south-west party – speaks to the belief by many northerners that it is their ‘turn’ to take over the presidency; this despite the fact that in Nigeria’s 63 years of existence as an independent country, the north has occupied the presidency for about 48 years.

Understandably, the south-south geopolitical zone where Jonathan is from is not to be outdone in the debate (24). Its leaders, including Chief Edwin Clark, have argued that Jonathan has the right as a Nigerian to seek a re-election, and that the south-south as a geopolitical zone cannot be debarred from presenting itself for re-election; more so, since the oil that fuels the country’s ‘development’ comes from its soil (25). Since the independence of Nigeria in 1960, the south-south has never had the opportunity to occupy power at the centre. It, therefore, makes equitable sense that a southerner should occupy such a position, even for a second term. This ‘intellectual’ argument is also supported by the brawn of the NDVPF’s Asari-Dokubo posturing for ‘war if Jonathan fails to be re-elected as president for a second term’ (26).

On why it should be allowed to occupy the presidency ‘after’ Jonathan, the south-east geopolitical zone posits that the political pot of Nigeria rests on a tripod of the so-called largest ethnic groups – the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. Since the formation of Nigeria, and especially after the 1967–70 civil war, no Igbo has ever occupied the office of president despite the fact that the other two ethnic groups have done so. It, therefore, argues that for Nigeria to show faith in the real integration of the Igbo into the political sequencing, it should be given a chance to be at the top. They want to hold Jonathan to his words that he will serve as the president for just one term, something Jonathan has denied ever agreeing to (27).

The south-west geopolitical zone, where ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo comes from, has not made any ethnic claim to the presidency. It is, however, mobilising across ethnic lines and through the ACN-spearheaded merger of opposition parties to capture power at the centre. It is still unclear how it plans to supplant the ambitions of Muhammadu Buhari, and other northerners, who also believe that power ‘rightly’ belongs to the north.

Interestingly, while these arguments rage, Jonathan has kept quiet, ‘refusing’ to be drawn into the debate. All he has said is that he has not considered the issue of re-election, as he is still busy with the governance challenges of his first term in office (28). However, Aso Rock watchers are of the opinion that his body language indicates an interest in seeking re-election (29). They point to the same tactics that he used after inheriting power following Yar’Adua’s death in May 2010.

Having direct bearing on his intention to contest the elections, however, is the apparent enmity between him and the governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. It is speculated in political circles that Amaechi is interested in putting himself forward for the vice presidency to a northern presidential candidate, Governor Sule Lamido – an act that, if it happens, may see Jonathan’s backyard under attack. Bayelsa, the home state of Jonathan, and Rivers are sister states. They were one state before the carving out of Bayelsa in 1996 – hence any break in the ranks by the governor, who himself was a member of the ruling party until recently, will be seen as a direct vote of no confidence in Jonathan from a crony state.

Some have also suggested that Jonathan’s offer of amnesty to the Boko Haram sect is predicated on his 2015 ambitions (30). It is expected that billions of oil dollars will go into the amnesty programme, as happened with the Niger Delta amnesty programme. This will be an avenue for Jonathan’s government to mop up funds with which it will run the 2015 election campaigns. Elections in Nigeria are financially demanding, more so since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not put a ceiling on the limit for campaign spending.

The Security Challenges of the 2015 Elections
So, how will the 2015 election year play out in the security and survival of Nigeria? A couple of scenarios present themselves.
First, with the continued security challenge posed by Boko Haram – even with the proposed amnesty – the north-east, if not the entire core north, would not be safe and secure to host elections. During the 2011 elections, the INEC relied to a large extent on ad hoc staff mainly made up of members of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). The violence that erupted in some northern states – notably Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Plateau, Jigawa, Taraba, Kano, Nassarawa and Niger – had the members of the NYSC at the receiving end. In one state alone, 10 serving NYSC members were brutally murdered, among many others (32). The INEC has already expressed its fears that, with the continued insecurity, the scheduled 2015 elections may not be held in the north (33).

Were this to happen, it is likely that there will be violence in the north and the target of such widespread violence will most likely be southern Christians who reside there. This may trigger reprisal attacks against northerners residing in the south. If, on the other hand, elections are held in the north, there is no guarantee that it will be conducted within a secure atmosphere.

Assuming that the INEC does not conduct elections in the north of Nigeria, to what extent could one regard the results of presidential elections as representative of the national choice? This question is asked against the backdrop of disenfranchisement experienced by the northerners, who constitute about half the population of Nigeria. Could one rightly say that such an elected president represents the entire country? Would he or she have the mandate to preside over the north, even when the north was not part of the process that elected him or her? What about the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria, which states that ‘[f]or the purpose of an election to the office of President, the whole of the Federation shall be regarded as one constituency’? (34). How will the INEC deal with the tenure elongation that this will generate on the other elected offices in the north? The constitutional challenges this will engender are better imagined than experienced.

The second scenario envisaged is that Jonathan fails to be re-elected as president in 2015. This can be explored at two levels: one is where the internal PDP machineries fail to nominate him as the party’s flag bearer. The question this raises is whether Jonathan has enough political clout to dump the PDP and contest the election on his own through another party. His political antecedents allow us to conclude that he may not have that clout, despite his control of the country’s economic and political power. The second level is if he secures the nomination of the PDP, but fails to be re-elected as the president of the country. Would he quietly hand over power without the fight typical of African incumbent presidents? This scenario is set against the massive build-up to the elections by opposition parties to unseat the PDP through a merger party.
Will the threats of Asari-Dokubo’s NDVPF be realised? What about MEND’s latent capacity to disrupt the oil flow in the Niger Delta? Would the south-south not feel ‘cheated’ out of political power and decide to exclude Nigeria from enjoying its oil income? While these consequences could erupt following Jonathan’s failure to secure the presidency, if a south-southerner emerges as the Vice President, it is most likely that the south will be pacified enough by the position to still consider its region part of the ruling class.

The third scenario worth examining is what the security situation in Nigeria will look like if Jonathan gets nominated by the PDP and goes ahead to win the presidency, just as he did on 16 April 2011. Is Nigeria likely to witness the type of violence it witnessed in the northern region of the country following the declaration of Jonathan as the president elect in 2011? Indications exist that the north may not accept Jonathan’s victory peacefully (35). How will the security agencies react?
Predictably, there will be a greater security presence in the north for the 2015 elections than there was for the 2011 elections. In 2011, the concern of many, and especially the international community, was what Jonathan’s reaction would be if he lost the election; not much attention was paid to the reaction of Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan’s main opponent, if he lost. This security glitch caught Nigeria napping; and the rest, as they say, is history (36). The volatile situation in northern Nigeria presently makes a case for greater securitisation (37). The elections, as elections go in Nigeria, are expected to make it even worse, notwithstanding the offer of amnesty to the Boko Haram sect.

The final scenario to consider is what then happens if any of the above scenarios presents itself and massive violence erupts in the country. This scenario assumes that such anticipated violence would have an ethnic/religious undertone; two entwined ‘evils’ in Nigeria’s political existence. Such violence might not have the sanction of the federal government against any specific ethnic group, as happened in the 1960s pogrom of the Igbo civilian population in northern Nigeria. It would, however, involve the use of state power to quell the violence. Herein, therefore, lie the danger and the dilemma for the Nigerian state.

Two scenarios present themselves in the above situation. The first is the possible hijacking of the violence by ethnic jingoists to declare the secession of their ethnic groups. This scenario is not limited to only the ethnic groups that have postured for secession – the Igbo, and to a lesser extent the Yoruba and the conglomeration of ethnic groups that make up the south-south geopolitical zone. Even the north may want to secede from the united Nigeria (38).

The second scenario is that the military may decide to step in to ‘cure’ the excesses of violence in the polity with the ‘mission’ of keeping Nigeria as one. In this case, technically, a coup or putsch of the civilian government will happen. The wanton violence will be checked by the military and Nigeria will revert to military rule.

Understandably, because of the current political awareness in the country, on the continent and internationally, a coup would not be supported. However, the profile of the coup leaders and their reasons for seizing power may convince all of the necessity of such action. This would nonetheless erase the ‘progress’ that Nigeria has made since its return to democracy in 1999.

Averting the Curse of 2015 and Concluding Remarks
Can Nigeria avert the ‘curse’ of 2015, and if so, what does it need to do? There is no doubt that the politics of Nigeria are not only divisive, but also tainted with ethnic and religious bigotry. This will be one of the challenges that Nigeria has to surmount in averting the ‘curse’. Understandably, not much can be done in the remaining year leading up to the elections, but the government, opposition parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) should make efforts towards social and ethnic integration.

Second, political leaders – especially those seen as ethnic jingoists – should cease from making inflammatory remarks. Statements such as ‘making the country ungovernable’ and ‘there will be no peace if Jonathan is not re-elected in 2015’ should not be a feature of the political lexicon in Nigeria.

Third, political bosses should rein in the sycophants and political jobbers, both in the ruling party and in the opposition. They do not score any political points when they make incendiary statements.

Fourth, the INEC must be seen to be impartial. Violence could be triggered if the losing party perceives the INEC to be favouring one or another political party. The 2011 presidential election violence is a case in point. It has been suggested that the widespread violence that erupted was due to the perceived partiality of INEC to the top challenger, Buhari.

Fifth, the INEC has from now to 2015 to perfect its electoral machines to make sure that only qualified people register and vote. The allegation of underage voting in northern Nigeria during the 2011 presidential election would have been enough to trigger violence if it had happened in the south.

Sixth, religious leaders – especially of the Islamic and Christian faiths – need to become involved in promoting the peaceful coexistence of the people.

Seventh, the security agencies need to reconfigure their approach to issues of security in the country. Instead of the reactive nature of security that is currently practised, the agencies should adopt a proactive system of security. This, therefore, means that the agencies need to expand their understanding of security to include human security issues. It is by addressing these issues of immediate concern to the people that faith in the security agencies will begin to return and, equally, faith in the corporate existence of Nigeria. Addressing those issues of human concern will also address the endemic poverty in the country and in turn reduce the propensity for violence.

Furthermore, recognition of the regional and international implications of Boko Haram’s security challenge to Nigeria needs to be a feature of the security landscape. The government should develop a standard policy on engaging disenchanted groups in the country, whether they are political or ethnic agitators. The idea of awarding amnesty to insurgents for the perpetration of serious crimes of domestic and international concern flies in the face of justice. Pressure groups and other ethnic-based organisations might as a result of the ‘settlement and reward’ given to insurgents, escalate to insurgency in order to get a share of the national cake.
Eighth, given Nigeria’s importance, especially in the West African sub-region and in Africa as a whole, the sub-regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the UN should do all they can to make sure that the ‘curse’ of 2015 is averted in Nigeria. The human security nightmare that any civil war in Nigeria will cause in the West African sub-region is better imagined than felt.

Finally, NGOs and CSOs need to engage both the government and the public in order to build a peaceful and rancour-free society. The experience of the 1967–70 civil war is still fresh in the minds of many Nigerians, especially since some of the main actors of that war are still very much involved in the politics of Nigeria. The hope, therefore, is that they would not encourage Nigeria’s falling off the precipice. While the current security climate in Nigeria portends danger for the country, the government’s sincere engagement, together with the opposition parties, will help Nigeria avert the ‘curse’ of 2015 and beyond.

The research for this article was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

1. It must be stated here that though the existence of such a report has been denied by US intelligence, it continues to generate discussions in Nigeria and elsewhere.
2. See Austine Ikelegbe, State, ethnic militias, and conflict in Nigeria, Canadian Journal of African Affairs 39 (2005), 490–516; Alfred Obiora Uzokwe, Surviving in Biafra: the story of the Nigerian civil war, Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2003; Ali Azareem Abdullahi and L Saka, Ethno religious and political conflicts in Nigeria: threat to the nascent democracy, Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 9(3) (2007), 21–36; Chima Korieh, The Nigeria-Biafra war: genocide and the politics of memory New York, NY: Cambria Press, 2012; Chinua Achebe, There was a country: a personal history of Biafra, New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2012.
3. See Duncan Campbell, 638 ways to kill Castro, The Guardian, 3 August 2006, (accessed 11 May 2013); Boyd M Johnson, III, Executive Order 12,333: the permissibility of an American assassination of a foreign leader, Cornell International Law Journal 25 (1992), 401–435; Catherine Lotrionte, When to target leaders, The Washington Quarterly 26(3) (2003), 73–86.
4. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), 2005 annual statistical bulletin, (accessed 12 May 2013).
5. Anayo Onukwugha, Nigeria: why Obasanjo imposed Yar’Adua on locals – Princewill, AllAfrica, 25 January 2010, (accessed May 14 2013); Emmanuel Aziken and Henry Umoru, Obasanjo foisted unhealthy Yar’Adua on Nigerians as punishment – Atiku, Vanguard, 29 November 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013).
6. Onukwugha, Nigeria: why Obasanjo imposed Yar’Adua on locals; Aziken and Umoru, Obasanjo foisted unhealthy Yar’Adua on Nigerians as punishment.
7. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Overview of the 2013 budget, 2013, (accessed 12 May 2013).
8. Ben Okolo, The state of insecurity in Nigeria, Nigeriaworld, 5 August 2009, (accessed 12 May 2013).
9. See Okolo Ben Simon, Demystifying the advance-fee fraud criminal network, African Security Review 18 (4) (2009), 5–18.
10. This after a century of forced marriage through Lord Lugard’s amalgamation in 1914. Some have speculated about the existence of a colonial document that allows Nigeria to revisit its amalgamation after a century – 2014 – in order to determine whether it wants to remain as one unified country. This speculation is rather spurious, as such document – even if it exists – has no binding force on Nigeria as an independent country.
11. Mark Davidhesler and Klalee Nyiayaana, Demobilization or remobilization? The amnesty program and the search for peace in the Niger Delta, African Security Review 4(1) (2011), 44–64; Judith Burdin Asuni, Understanding the armed groups of the Niger Delta, New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2009.
12. The Boko Haram sect in January 2013 attempted to kill the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. While the Emir managed to escape unhurt, some of his aides were killed in the attack.
13. Senan Murray and Adam Nossiter, Suicide bomber attacks U.N. building in Nigeria, The New York Times, 26 August 2011, = all&_r = 0 (accessed 14 May 2013); Ibrahim Mshelizza, Islamist sect Boko Haram claims Nigerian U.N. bombing, Reuters, 29 August 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013); Ndahi Marama, UN House bombing: why we struck – Boko Haram, Vanguard, 28 August 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013).
14. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The World Factbook: Nigeria, (accessed 14 May 2013).
15. Joseph P Smaldone, Warfare in the Sokoto Caliphate: historical and sociological perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977; Paul E Lovejoy, Plantations in the economy of the Sokoto Caliphate, The Journal of African History 19 (1978), 341–368; Paul E Lovejoy and J S Hogendorn, Revolutionary Mahdism and resistance to colonial rule in the Sokoto Caliphate, 1905–61, The Journal of African History 31 (1990), 217–244.
16. See David Cook, Boko Haram: a prognosis, Houston, TX: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, 2011.
17. Ibrahim Sheme, INTERVIEW: ‘there are different types of Boko Haram’ – Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna – Blueprint Magazine, Sahara Reporters, 22 October 2012, (accessed 14 May 2013). The religious Boko Haram is often associated with the original followers of Mohammed Yusuf – those who believe in exorcising all that is Western. The political Boko Haram are those alleged to be associated with the former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff. The criminal Boko Haram are those alleged to be using the name of Boko Haram to terrorise and extort money from the people. While these different brands coexist, it must be stated that the threat presented by the religious Boko Haram is more severe than those of the political and criminal sects, because the religious Boko Haram is rooted in religious ideology, no matter how faulty it might be.
18. Nigeria attack: Nasarawa cult ambush ‘kills 30 police’, BBC News, 9 May 2013, (accessed 14 May 2013); Nigerian militants kill 46 police officers in ambush, Financial Times, 9 March 2013, (accessed 14 May 2013); Sani Tukur, How Ombatse ‘cult’ group killed scores of security agents in Nasarawa – Premium Times, Sahara Reporters, 10 May 2013,‘cult’-group-killed-over-scores-security-agents-nasarawa-premium-times (accessed 14 May 2013).
19. Ochereome Nnanna, Boko Haram a ‘political tool’?, Vanguard, 1 September 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013).
20. In 2010, following the decision of President Jonathan to contest the Presidency, Lawal Kaita, a northerner and close ally of Abubakar Atiku, is alleged to have said: ‘Anything short of a Northern President is tantamount to stealing our Presidency. Jonathan has to go and he will go. Even if he uses the incumbency power to get his nomination on the platform of the PDP, he would be frustrated out …. The North is determined, if that happens, to make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan or any other Southerner who finds his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the principle of the party’s zoning policy; see Friday Olokor, If I’m arrested, Nigeria will be history – Dokubo-Asari, Punch Online, 10 May 2013, (accessed 7 March 2014).
21. Ini Ekot, Government white paper indicts prominent politicians for creating Boko Haram, Premium Times, 28 April 2013, (accessed 11 May 2013).
22. Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Court clears Jonathan to contest presidency in 2015, Vanguard, 2 March 2013, (accessed 11 May 2013).
23. The thrust of their position is based on the ‘existence’ of a gentleman’s agreement in the PDP that presidential power should rotate between the geographical north and south.
24. Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones: North Central, North-East, North-West, South-East, South-South and South-West.
25. Henry Umoru, Jonathan‘ll contest in 2015 – E.K.Clark, Vanguard, 25 May 2012, (accessed 14 May 2013).
26. Iheanacho Nwosu, 2015 presidency it’s either Jonathan or war – Asari Dokubo, The Sun, 6 May 2013, (accessed 14 May 2013).
27. Jonathan denies signing agreement to serve for a single term, Premium Times, 17 February 2013, (accessed 11 May 2013).
28. John Bulus, 2015: another loud silence from Jonathan, Vanguard, 23 February 2013, (accessed 13 May 2013).
29. 2015: Jonathan’s body language and the opposition, Nigerian Tribune, 24 November 2012,’s-body-language-and-the-opposition (accessed 14 May 2013).
30. Ahmed Musa, Nigerian politician, interviewed by author at Abuja, Nigeria on 10 February 2013.
31. Okolo Ben Simon and R Okey Onunkwo, The 2011 Nigerian elections: an empirical review, Journal of African Elections 10(2) (2011), 54–72, 67.
32. Nigeria: post-election violence killed 800, Human Rights Watch, 17 May 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013).
33. Desmond Mgboh, 2015: elections must hold in the North, Atiku insists, The Sun, 19 March 2013, (accessed 14 May 2013).
34. Nigerian Constitution, 1999, Section 132 (4).
35. Tony Akokwe, 2015 may be Nigeria’s last election – Junaid Mohammed, The Nation, 20 March 2013, (accessed 14 May 2013).
36. Hundreds killed in Nigerian post-election violence, The Guardian, 24 April 2011, (accessed 14 May 2013); Emmanuel Chidiogo, 800 people killed in post-election violence, Daily Times NG, 16 May 2011,‘800-people-killed-post-election-violence’ (accessed 14 May 2013).
37. This analysis recognises the security challenge posed by the Fulani herdsmen and their mode of operations in the middle belt and south of Nigeria. However, it is not within the remit of this paper to examine this matter.
38. Yusuf Alli, Balarabe warns North against secession, The Nation, 15 October 2012, (accessed 14 May 2013); Muideen Olaniyi, Bashiru Abdulllahi, Eyo Charles et al, AllAfrica, 12 August 2012, Nigeria: drums of secession sound from Niger Delta – Yakassai, others challenge Jonathan, = 1 (accessed 14 May 2013).
Simon Okolo


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