Causes and Effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria    

Insecurity in Northern Nigeria: Causes and Effects

Like other regions of the country, Northern Nigeria has witnessed various degrees of insecurity with its resultant effect on the standard of living of those living within the affected states. Insecurity in the north has not only prevented development of that region but has also hindered foreign investment, disrupted social activities, peaceful coexistence and has become a great threat to the development of the region in particular and Nigeria in general. In this post, we examine the causes and effects of insecurity in Northern Nigeria.

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It is important to define security in order to ease our understanding of insecurity in Nigeria.

The term security refers to is a situation that exists as a result of establishment of measures for the protection of persons, information and property against hostile influences.

Under this condition, members of the society can go about their normal activities without any threat to their lives and properties.

Furthermore, security can be described as predictability of daily life (i.e. knowing what to expect), protection from crime (i.e. feeling safe), and freedom from psychological harm.


The word ‘insecurity’ in the context of this post, can be defined as the state of fear and anxiety arising from a real or perceived lack of protection. It can also be seen as the lack or inadequate freedom from danger.

Furthermore, insecurity can be seen as the state of being subject to danger or injury and the anxiety people experience when they feel both vulnerable and insecure.

Causes of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria

In this section, we consider some of the factors responsible for insecurity in northern Nigeria. These include:

1. Governance Failure resulting in Decay of Institutions:

The state of insecurity in the Northern part of Nigeria is mainly due to failure in governance. Government has been unable to deliver public service and provide for basic needs of the masses.

The inability of these people to meet their basic needs has created a pool of frustrated people who are ignited easily by any event to be violent.

Moreover, young able people who are not engage in any meaningful activities are always available for any slight opportunity where they can be violent and wreck havoc.

2. Material Inequalities and Unfairness:

Great disparities in the quality of life of the people are one major factor responsible for the insecurity in the Northern Nigeria.

The gap between the rich and the poor is too wide and ever increasing in the region as well as in other regions of the country. This has been become a source of resentment and disaffection among the citizens.

Consequently, a large proportion of the Northern Nigerian population, especially the youths have emerged to express their dissatisfaction about the extensive state of inequality.

3. Political Violence:

The electoral politics in Nigeria right from independence till date have been marked by politically-based violence ranging from political thuggery, assassinations, and arson.

Political contest are always marked by desperation and violent struggle for political power among politicians. Sometimes, this leads to wanton destruction of properties, lives and other valuable resources.

A classic example is the 2011 post election violence in the Northern part of the country which rendered many Nigerians homeless across the nineteen states of the zone.

Security personnel were overpowered by the aggrieved groups who took laws into their hands, killing innocent people mercilessly.

4. Manipulation of Ethnicity and Religion by Elites

The major cause of insecurity in Nigeria is attributed to ethnicity and religion.

In most states in the north, it is common to hear of attacks by ethnic militia causing mayhem in these areas.

The high level of insecurity in northern Nigeria today arisen from the long religious disputes between Christians and Muslims in that zone. The idea of religious supremacy among the two major religions in the country has been the source of violence in most parts of the northern Nigeria since independence.

5. Poor Arms Control:

Failure of the state to effectively control the proliferation of Small Arms and their possession by ethnic militia groups, among others are some of the causes of insecurity in Northern Nigeria.

Effects of Insecurity in Northern Nigeria

Insecurity in the region has constituted a threat to lives and properties; has hindered economic activities; and has discouraged local and foreign investors, which in turn, has retarded human and economic development of the region.

1. Loss of Lives and Properties:

So many lives have been lost due to violent clashes and conflicts within the region. This has traumatized the people of the region.

2. Social Dislocation and Displacement:

Millions of Nigerians have been displaced (between 2014 and 2020) from their homes, villages, communities and states in the north.

In 2015, tens of thousands of Nigerians were reported to have fled the country to other neighboring countries like Cameroon, Niger, Benin Republic, Chad, etc.

3. Social tension and new patterns of settlements:

Due to conflict in the north, Muslims are migrating to Muslim dominated areas while Christians on the other hand moving to Christian dominated areas.

4. Increased Cost of Governance:

The situation of insecurity in northern Nigeria has compelled the Federal government to deploy large proportion of the nation’s resources to fight Boko Haram insurgency in that part of the country.

The relocation of the Defense Command Centre from Abuja to Maiduguri by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 29thMay, 2015 is a typical example of how insecurity has forced the federal government of Nigeria into extra budgetary spending.

The increased spending reduces the resources available for provision of infrastructure such as health, education, housing, etc.

5. Disruption of Family and Communal Life:

This is one of the most painful effects of insecurity in northern Nigeria. Since the insurgency started unleashing their activities, maiming, killing and burning of houses in that part of the country, a lot of people have lost their loved ones and others were forced to separate from each other.

This has brought untold hardship to many while others are still undergoing emotional and psychological trauma resulting from the act of insurgency in the north.

6. Deepening of Hunger and Starvation, Poverty and Criminality:

The northern region of Nigeria produce more than seventy percent of the food consumed within the country. Consequently, conflict within the region has caused reduced food production since farmers are no safer to cultivate their lands.

The result of the low food production is starvation and hunger. Moreover, this has increased crime wave in the region.


Insecurity in northern Nigeria has forced large number of Nigerians to be vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, neglect and many rendered homeless in that part of the country.

Therefore, there is the need for government, civil society and individuals or business organizations to fight insecurity in order to create an environment conducive to development.


There is the need for government to provide physical, economic, and social infrastructure. This would create an enabling environment for business operations and industrial growth, and hence provide gainful employment.

There is the need for law enforcement agents to improve intelligence gathering and surveillance to enable them be proactive in conflict-prone situations.


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