Cross-border insurgency and the coping strategies of border communities in North-eastern Nigeria.
Okunade, Samuel Kehinde.
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Across continents, countries share borders with one another and so, have settlements called border communities. Nigeria is not an exception as she shares borders with neighboring states like Benin Republic in the South-West, Niger in the North, Chad and Cameroun in the North-East. For over 5 years, Nigeria has witnessed serious security challenge most especially, in the North-Eastern region, through the activities of Boko Haram, who infiltrated through porous borders putting the communities on constant threats and invasion. Extant literature reveals that these communities are being marginalized, with little or no attention from government in terms of basic infrastructure needed for daily survival. So far, research has focused on the coping strategy of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees in camps and host communities, to the total neglect of the border communities. It is therefore in this light that this study focuses on the coping strategies evolved by the border communities which ensures their continued survival against cross-border insurgency. This study was underpinned by three theories such as state fragility theory, functional prerequisite, human needs theory while a theoretical model that speaks to the coping strategies of border communities in North-Eastern Nigeria will be constructed from the study. For this study, qualitative research model was adopted using a phenomenological case study approach in exploring the coping strategy of border communities to ensure their survival and continuing existence, against cross-border insurgency. The target population consisted of all inhabitants of border communities in the North-Eastern Nigeria. Purposive sampling method was employed utilizing the typical case in the selection of participants. In-depth Interview (IDI) and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was employed in collection of data while the interviews conducted were interpreted, transcribed, and content-analyzed. Data from both primary and secondary sources were descriptively analysed systematically and objectively, making valid textual inferences from them by identifying specific characteristics as it relates to cross-border insurgency and the coping strategies of border communities which are the crux of the study. Findings revealed that truly the border communities suffer Boko Haram attacks which has not only created a state of insecurity within the communities but has also created humanitarian crisis. Pathetic to note that this situation has received limited or no response hence, the evolvement of coping strategies by the communities for continued survival. These coping strategies involve reconciliation and unity, vigilance and Prayerfulness, formation of Vigilante Groups, and Bargain. Though, these strategies have been effective for survival, they have proven not to be totally capable of preventing further attacks in the communities. It is therefore necessary for the government through its agencies most especially, the North-East Development Commission and the Border Community Development Agency to synergize and improve on these strategies so that these communities can continue to experience the peace and tranquility that have eroded them for too long.