The Mayor of Abuja and the ‘Pied Piper’ of Maiduguri
Extremism and the ‘politics of mutual envy’ in Nigeria?
in Encountering extremism
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This chapter critically engages with the politics of extremism and radicalisation in Nigeria, from postcolonial and poststructuralist perspectives. Although ‘religious’ and sectarian intolerances have a long history in Nigeria, academic interest in countering violent extremism (CVE) is recent. However, despite the optimism that this ‘soft’ approach has generated, a perusal of contemporary literature on CVE in Nigeria shows a serious flaw; a cornucopia of taken-for-granted ‘truths’, recycled with gusto, without attention to their underlying politics, which forecloses the possibilities of a richly nuanced and critical understanding of terrorism and its relation to cognate phenomena. This chapter argues that extremism is an ideological tool that the Nigerian state adopts in practising its own version of politics of mutual envy, which is a manifestation of an uncritical perpetuation of (post-)colonial mimicry. Phenomena constructed as extremist are entrenched in the fabric of the history of Northern Nigeria, where Islam – based on varying inflections – has constituted the fulcrum for both hegemonic and counterhegemonic struggles for almost a millennium. Therefore, the historical antagonistic metaphorical binary of ‘Islam vs the West’, which ‘violent extremism’ (a move towards the former) is hinged upon, flounders when exposed to historical, political, social and cultural sensibilities of Northern Nigeria.

Encountering extremism

Theoretical issues and local challenges

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