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LAWAL, Abdullahi: Nollywood and the Question of National Insecurity in State of Emergency

Nollywood and the Question of National Insecurity in State of Emergency

Abdullahi LAWAL

Department of the Performing Arts

University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

Email: ;

GSM: +234-703-578-1420; +234-807-475-9502


Film as a medium of communication plays several roles in society, which include: cultural rejuvenation, propaganda (in various forms), awakening of social responsibilities, and raising consciousness towards national security, among others. The sordid state of security in Nigeria is highly worrisome. There are several instances of insecurity in the country that range from assassination, armed robbery, kidnapping for ritual or for ransom benefits, and unjust killing of innocent Nigerians, among others. Consequently, the reading of State of Emergency as a Nollywood product that addresses the issue of insecurity is significant. The attempt to discuss causes, outcomes and remedies of insecurity in our society as demonstrated in the film becomes necessary. And the issues raised in the film are relevant to Nigeria as the country is seriously confronting national insecurity of Boko Haram. The study adopts a textual analysis of State of Emergency, using reader-response criticism to situate the connection of the film to the Nigerian society; probably the lessons projected in the film can go a long way in addressing cases of insecurity in the country presently and in the future.

Keywords: Film, Communication, Insecurity, Nollywood, Boko Haram


This paper is an attempt to the issue of (in)security as presented in State of Emergency. Prior to the textual analysis of the film, we decided to go into Nigerian history to foreground the essay with some insights of the past security challenges in Nigeria. We then realised that the failure of the government was the source of all the crises which occurred in Nigeria at a particular time or the other, including the brutal civil war that ravaged the country for 30 months. We discovered therefore that it is the masses that are always absent, when those in government perpetrate their actionsthat suffer. This reaffirms the saying that “where the two elephants fight, the grass suffers.”

We are also guided in the textual analysis of the film by reader-response literary theory which gives more prominent voice to critics rather than writers to view issues from the way they seem or appear to them. This is why we strongly opine that government is always the source of insecurity in Nigeria that in most times wreck lives and properties in no small measure.

Some Notable Insecurity Cases in NigerianHistory

Insecurity is inevitable in any society; developed, developing or under-developed. It is an issue that any sane society does not toy with. This tells reasons for setting up various security outfits in various countries of the world to ensure adequate security of the people and properties. In the United States of America, there are about four to five security outfitsthat maintain the safety of the people living in the country (both the visitors and the citizens). In Britain, the situation is similar as various security organisationsare set up to ensure the security of lives and properties of the kingdom. This type of security arrangement can be found in many developed countries of the world like France, Germany, Canada, Russia, China and Japan, among others, to maintain laws and orders. In the United States, both the state and federal governments have systems of policing with the sole objective of protecting lives and properties.

Insecurity in various countries of the world is traceable to various reasons, such as, economic reasons, socio-political grievances, cultural circumstances, and government secret policies, among others. What ordinary citizens of any society just see, in most cases, is insecurity without knowing the source or root of it. Insecurity does not occur without any cause. Some of the reasons that give birth to insecurity are highlighted above. And it is an acceptable fact that no success can be recorded in any society amidst insecurity.

In Nigeria which is our focus in this essay, there have been many cases of insecurity in the past that have robbed the country of many lives and properties. In the early years of Nigerian independence, there were cases of insecurity in the country consequent upon political rivalries among various political parties and their leaders to the extent that many lives and valuable properties were lost. It was even more intense in the South-Western Nigeria as the part of the country witnessed a tense rivalry between Ladoke Akintola and Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of Western Region and Action Group Leader. There was a common slogan at the time which was “operation we tie.” This was a slogan used to burn down political opponents’ houses. The insecurity in the region was so intense to the extent that state of emergency was declared.

On the 15th of January, 1966, there was a first military coup in Nigeria led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu which did not go down well with many Northerners as they believed that it was a tribal and ethnic coup. This was because the top political office holders in the country such as Tafawa Balewa (Prime Minister), Ahmadu Bello (Northern Premier), and Ladoke Akintola (Western Premier) were killed, with the exception of Eastern Premier, Dr. Michael Okpara. Northerners did not believe in this coup as it seemed to them being motivated by ethnic interests.

Consequently, on 29th June, 1966, at exactly six months after the first coup in Nigeria, there occurred what has been tagged “a counter-coup.” The second coup was organised by young military men from the North.This, then, resulted to rivalry between Ojukwu and Gowon. This power rivalry led to the first civil war in the country that lasted for two and half years.In the two cases just cited and narrated in Nigeria are as a result of political reasons both in civilian and military and that resulted to insecurity on large scales. In the same period of civil war in the country, there was Agbekoya uprising in the South-Western part of the country when farmers were aggrieved over exorbitant taxes which were unbearable to them any longer. The crisis claimed many lives and properties. It was caused by economic reasons and government ineptitude to arrest the situation appropriately.

In the North, in the 1980s, most specifically in Kano, the Maitatsine, an Islamic fundamentalist sect gave birth with its provocative and hateful preaching against all that it considered un-Islamic.The sect was founded by Muhammed Marwa, an immigrant from northern Cameroon who settled in Kano in 1945. Marwa was expelled from Kano by Alhaji Sanusi Lamido for his provocative sermons against the established institutions in politics and Islam. He returned to Kano after the death of Sanusi Lamido, the Emir of Kano in 1966 (Danjibo 6). So, the Maitatsine crisis was rooted in religious acrimony of a group of Islamic fundamentalists that weighed a war against the country. Falola maintains that:

He (Marwa) was a Qur’anic teacher and preacher. Forceful, persuasive and charismatic, herebelled against many popular opinions among Kano Islamic circles, denouncing certain parts of the Holy Qur’an and even criticizing Prophet Muhammad. At one stage in his career, Marwa granted himself his most prestigious credential when he revealed himself to be an annabi, a prophet with divine power and a mission to save the world… He was alleged to have replaced the name of the Prophet Muhammad with his own in personal copies of the Qur’an…He was opposed to most aspects of modernization and to all Western influence. He decried such technological commonplace as radios, wrist watches, automobiles, motorcycles, and even bicycles. Those who use these things or who read books other than the Qur’an were viewed as hell-bound ‘pagans’ (143).     

Maitatsine sect began to launch attacks on Kano residents in the late year of 1980. It was so traumatic that they confronted police officers and some police stations were burnt down. They also wrecked havocs on Christians, government institutions and moderate Muslims (Danjibo 9). This made the then Kano State governor, Abubakar Rimi to give this dreadful sect two weeks to quit Kano (Danjibo 9). Although, the order of the governor was not taken serious as the sect continued to rain terror on the people.

It was then obvious that Nigerian Police could not control the situation and Nigerian Military was invited. It then took Nigerian Army eleven days to dislodge the terrorists from their captured areas in Kano city such as “the Fagge mosque, some schools, a cinema house and the Sabon Gari market,” according to Danjibo (9). Danjibo has this to say:

When the situation was getting out of control, ex-President Shehu Shagari had to invite the Nigeria Army to intervene. It took the army two days to dislodge the sect while their leader was killed in the operation. More than 1,000 members of the sect were arrested and detained in prison where they received agonizing treatment from the police. The crisis lasted for 11days, claimed the lives of more than 4,179 people and hundreds of houses and shops were either torched or destroyed (9).

Therefore, the era of Maitatsine crisis is memorable in the minds of many Nigerians that live home and abroad for the havocs the sect caused this country both physically and psychologically. Eventually, the era of Maitatsine fundamentalism came to an end in the late 1980s and the country felt signs of relief, most especially, in the North.

            Cases of armed robbery in the ‘80s and ‘90s were on a large scalethat also contributed to the insecurity in the country. It was so much that in the various parts of the country different communal groups sprang up to tackle this unfortunate development. Aside that the groups were politically motivated, they still serve as security agents to address insecurity in various regions and communities they belong to, notably among them is Bakassi Boys originated from Abia State. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, in Trends in Nollywood: A Study of Selected Genres, argues that:

... the use of vigilante groups, which was purely for personal or group safety, has been given ethnic colouration due to exigencies in the Nigerian political arena. For example, the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has since become a force to reckon with in the socio-political landscape of Western Nigeria. The Arewa People’s Congress and several Hisbah groups have become dominant in the northern part of the country. The Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association (OMATA), the Bakassi Boys (BB) and the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), have since surfaced among the Igbo-speaking states of eastern Nigeria and have influenced the ideological inclination of the people to a large extent... (181).

Between 1999 and 2002 Bakassi Boys group was initiated as a sort of community policing group to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police Force when the cases of armed robbery had become intense in Aba, most particularly at Ariaria Market. Ayakoroma gives account of the reasons for the Bakassi Boys’ emergence in these words:

The commercial town of Aba, which hosts the popular Ariaria Market, was gripped by insecurity and lawlessness as armed robbery and other forms of violent crime reached unprecedented levels. Robbery and extortion by armed gangs, the most prominent of which were known as the Mafia, became a daily routine and began to affect more than just the population of Aba, as traders from all over the country who used to come to Aba to transact business in the Ariaria Market, began staying away from the town out of fear. Frustration and anger at the insecurity and intimidation suffered at the hands of criminals in Aba exploded when armed robbers killed a pregnant woman near the market in Aba sometime in October 1999 (191).

It was around 1990s and 2000s that militancy began in the South-South whereby many peace-haters used the opportunity to disrupt the peace of the region by kidnapping for ransom benefits, some of their victims even died in the process. The crisis of Niger-Delta militancy was so alarming to the extent that it called the attentions of international communities because many nationalities working for various oil companies were victims of hostage-taking. This was as a result of economic reasons for Niger-Delta people complained painfully of oil spillage that had damaged their sources of livelihood.

So, we can continue making references to different crises in the different parts of the country. But what we intend to do by citing the above crisis cases is to lay a solid foundation for the challenge of insecurity in Nigeria, trying to touch some notable parts of the country. And the greatest of them all is Boko Haram which has been seen as the worst crisis experience in Nigeria for uncountable lives and properties have lost consequent upon that. Thus, we see some relevance of different insecurity cases in Nigeria in State of Emergency to factually all crises, most especially, the worst of them all which is Boko Haram. We see relevance in the lessons presented in the film to these crises in order to overcome the insecurity challenges in the country.

Plot Summary of State of Emergency

The film, State of Emergency, directed by Tarila Thompson, begins with the assassination of some daughters of important public office holders in the state, including Chief Justice’s and Governor’s daughters. Smith, one of the security detectives in search of the assassins notices the sigh left by assailants and decides to go home to confirm whether it is the same sigh adopted during their secret mission to some African countries. When he gets home, he remembers how they were told that if they are caught in the course of the mission the federal government would deny them as they have no registration with government.

At the battle front, some of them died and some were captured and jailed in Angola. So, it is only Smith that survived from the mission based on the information given to government by Major Daniels who led the squad.Smith also, at the house of the governor, calls his boss’ attention to the kind of bullets used to kill the girl, maintaining that it is only used by military forces because of its specialty and even the local police cannot have access to it. But he is not taken serious.

Smith later gets convinced that Omega Squad is in town. Then, he goes to meet their commander to intervene in the matter so that the squad can stop the mess. But the commander rejects the move, claiming that is no more in the service.When Smith leaves the commander, he meets his old friend who is now a journalist. During their conversation his journalist friend tells him that he is going to International Conference Centre to cover aministerial conference. Immediately, he quickly runs to International Conference Centre to let the security operatives on the ground know about the impending disaster. But they do not believe him. After a while the ministers and national security adviser assemble for the meeting.

Before they know what is happening, Omega Squad has taken over the place and taken everybody in the hall hostage. It is then that the security operatives come to acknowledge the information brought to them by Smith but it is too late for them to arrest the situation. They kill some dignitaries, such as, minister for agriculture, minister for health, security adviser and some secretaries. Their demand is that they want to speak with the President directly. Smith also makes another attempt to involve Major Daniels and he (Major Daniels) agrees to come and speak with the terrorists as their former commander during the Peace-Keeping Mission.

When Major Daniels gets there, he is accused of betrayal. They claim that he refused to help them when they needed his assistance as their leader. Major Daniels let the gang leader know that he was following orders and since the war was over there was nothing he could do to come back for them. But his argument is not accepted and he is shut dead on his way out of the hall.This triggers a counter-reaction in the army, believing that it is an insult on the army and they decide to enter the hall through the tunnel and get rid of the hoodlums once and for all. But they fail as the tunnel they want to use to penetrate is exploded on the way. So, they shamefully go back to their backs.

The Chief Press Secretary to the President also speaks to them and she lets them know that the President does not negotiate with terrorists. This action makes them kill a minister and his secretary. And the President sends his resolution that the new ministers will be appointed at the Civic Centre. During the swearing in, all the ministerial nominees are shut dead by the members of this gang, pretending as Catholic Reverend Fathers. It is in this same manner they go in search of the Chief Press Secretary’s son to the President in his school to give him exploded material as a gift.

The President decides to talk to them when the situation has obviously gone out of control and promises to meet their demands. They have sent to Angola for the release of their comrades (James, Dickens and Stanley). And when they are out of the hall along with their victims and set in the bus that will take them escape, a power cable is cut after the voltage in it has been reduced to the level that can only make them unconscious. This is how the terrorists are arrested while unconscious. The security agents discover during an interrogation with the leader of the gang (Charles) that they have planted an explosive in a hotel. And for this, they have to deactivate the explosive. At the end, they find the explosive material and implode it. But in the process, Charles, the gang leader tactically gets a pistol from FBI boss. So, he is requesting for his release. It is on that spot; Smith outsmarts him and shoots him righton his forehead. This is where the story ends.  

Theoretical Framework

The literary theory considered to be used in the reading and the analysis of State of Emergency to address the crisis of insecurity in Nigeria is reader-response criticism which, we believe strongly, would aid the critique of the film, meta-textualising it to the Nigerian society yesterday, today and perhaps, tomorrow.

The sole objective of reader-response criticism is for a reader to become an “active participant in the creation of meaning” (Dobie 131). The theory gives a voice to readers placing him at a vantage position to make pronouncements vis-à-vis issues generated in texts in the manner they appear to him. It is a literary concept that promotes Roland Bathes’ ‘death of the author’ when it comes to generation of meanings in author’s work. This means authorial voice may not be considered.Therefore, a critic is no longer seen as objective as he is observing his criticism from his own angle. Ann B. Dobie in Theory into Practice: An Introduction to Literary Criticism argues that:

The focus moved away from thinking of a work as a self-contained aesthetic object to considering the experience that transpires when the reader and the work come together. No longer could any reading be taken as unbiased and objective. The reader had moved to centre stage (131).

Dobie also attempts to trace the emergence of reader-response theory to the eras of Plato and Aristotle because they were in the possession of power of words to convince people (131). Therefore, the main aim of reader-response criticism is channelled towards how a speaker, a critic or a reviewer can convince and persuade his audience about what is saying.Aristotle’s model of reader-response theory can be deduced from these words:

Aristotle also explored the many ways in which an argument can be made convincing to listeners. He thereby influenced Longinus, Cicero, Quintilian, and other rhetoricians to this day in making choices about organising and style so that what they have to say will appeal to a particular group of people (Dobie 131-132).

Richards and Rosenblatt in the 1920s and 1930s carried out works on reader-response criticism. Richards instructed his students to write responses or meanings of short poems. Donie argues that he did not become full reader-response theorist because of the reactions of his students when he discovered “accuracy” in their reactions (132). Rosenblatt gave an insight to what is termed as, ““transactional” theory of reading” (Donie 132). Donie explains in details the two positions of Rosenblatt in the following:

The two opposing stances are the “efferent” one, in which the reader concentrates on information to be extracted from the writing, and the “aesthetics”, which involves senses, feelings, and intuitions about “what is being lived through during the reading event”. According to Rosenblatt, a piece of literature comes into being when it receives an aesthetic reading, which is produced by a merging of reader and text (132).

Walker Gibson, Wayne Booth and Wolfgang Iser furthered work on reader-response criticism in the mid-twentieth century. They agree on certain principles on a reader and text which produce “Interpretation of meaning ... to be an act of reading, thereby making the ultimate authority not the writer or the text but the reader. A literary work thus becomes an evolving creation, as it is possible for there to be many interpretations of the same text by different readers or several interpretations by a single reader at different times (Donie133).Rosenblatt maintains that reader-response criticism gives reader an opportunity of bringing “personality traits, memories of the past events, present needs and preoccupations, a particular mood of the moment, and a particular physical condition” (Quoted in Donie 133). Donie also posits that:

... reader-response criticism calls for introspection and reflection on one’s own values and beliefs, it can lead the reader to deeper personal knowledge and greater cultural awareness ... It makes the reader’s life, rather than the literary work, the primary focus of attention. Though such arguments may have some merit, there is little doubt that, in the end, a reader-response analysis powerfully engages readers to move analytically both inward and outward, finding meaning in the text, the self, and the world (133).

In the reading of the text, we are going by the tenets inherent in the reader-response criticism so as to actualise interpretation of intended meaning. It will also avail us the opportunity of analysing the text from our own stand-point and make the desired pronouncements at the end of analysis.

State of Emergency: Addressing Insecurity in Nigeria

The functionality of art is inevitable in any society. Consequently, the view of Cheikh Nda’o is right as he maintains that, “Art has a social function” (Traore 123). The debate of Art-for-Art-Sake is a failed one. This is because going by the submission of the apostles of Art-for-Art-Sake whichmaintains that art is only meant to entertain. If that is the only function art does, it has addressed or served a social function as posited by Cheikh N’dao. Obviously, therefore, art has a function(s) in any society.

Nigeria home video film (otherwise known as Nollywood) has done a lot in responding to social functions in Nigeria like its counterparts in other climes. It has served as a medium of cultural consciousness, political awakeningand educational tool, among others. Thus, as a result of many functions Nollywood plays in Nigeria, it has become a force to reckon with when it comes to popular culture. This is why Jonathan Hayne’s position is apt as he sees it as “Nigeria’s most powerful art form” (xii). One of the issues which Nollywood has addressed since its inception decades ago is the issue of (in) security as demonstrated in the film of focus in this essay,State of Emergency.

Issakaba Series is also another attempt by Nollywood to address or call people’s attention to insecurity in our communities. Issakaba Series was a response to the lawlessness that was perpetrated by Bakassi Boys, a group of vigilantes in the Eastern part of the country. Bakassi Boys began well as they checked some insecurity activities in the region. Akwani gave some account of their contributions in these words:

Before the Bakassi Boys, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was lawlessness and high crime in Eastern Nigeria. This was mainly due to the existence of a small number of influential men who sponsored the criminals. One of the most notorious of these men was a rasputinic character, Eddy Okeke, pastor and founder of a local ‘Christian’ cult. Okeke claimed the ability to heal many ills, make acolytes rich and give them power over things temporal and spiritual. He was also reputed to be a friend and adviser to most of the men in power at the federal level (Quoted in Ayakoroma 193).

Bakassi Boys checked the excesses of this man and they became the saviours of the people. They also turned monsters later on as people began to nurture fear unnecessarily at the mention of their name. Even some used them against their neighbours whom they had minor civil misunderstanding with. Ayakoroma identified four atrocities committed by this group of vigilantes, namely, human rights abuse, targeting vocal critics, increased use as political tools and interventions in private disputes and civil matters (196-97). So, these are the salient issues that the Issakaba Series, a film was meant to address.

In the like manner, one would decipher that State of Emergency was produced to address certain occurrences in Nigerian society. We may not know the issues in the reality specifically, but we can posit that it was made to talk about insecurity; its causes, consequences and remedies. It may as well be seen in the light of militant activities in the Niger Delta, Maitatsine crisis in the North in the 1980s, various armed robbery cases, or the recent Boko Haram saga in the country.`The inscription at the end of each part of the film is significant and insightful as it will aid our argument. It says that: “You may have a genuine reason but never you take the laws into your hands.”

State of Emergency is a bold and unique film that addresses insecurity, its observable causes and its challenges. It is a film which provokes thought in any serious leadership as to how, why and when to address and tackle the issue of insecurity. The film does not hide to heap the blame of insecurity on government because those factors that bring about insecurity are rooted in government (or governance), such as, poverty, unemployment, bad leadership and government secret policy, among others. We should not be in doubt of this assertion as some cases we have cited in the historical development of insecurity in the country can all be traced to government.

In the film, the government secret policy which usually boomerangs at the end is the cause of the whole crisis. The film reveals to us that government engages in certain secret policy which is not known to the general public. And the outcome of such policy is usually tragic as presented in the film. Sadly, in most cases, innocent individuals are casualties or victims of such security failure.

In State of Emergence, therefore, there is a bit twist of that as eminent personalities are made suffer for the insecurity pain government caused the society. This is done in a way that some children of the eminent personalities are victims in the film.The assailants believe strongly that it is the government that sends them on secret mission to Angola, Somalia and Rwanda, among others, for Peace-Keeping and also as spies, with the aim of having all of them died without their knowledge, so that the secret will not revealed to the world.

Unfortunately for the government, some of them did not die and they were expecting government to send troupe to rescue them at the battle front in Somalia. Major Daniels who led the squad could not go back to rescue his boys because of an order that the war had ended and there was no reason for him to go back. They were left to die and those captured in an attempt to escape were denied by the government as their military men.The three of them (James, Dickens and Stanley) were captured and they are awaiting execution in Angola. Charles, the leader of the gang maintains that, “they are jailed for a duty they did their country....” Although, Smith does not agree with him on this, claiming that, “they deviated from our game plan and chose money.”

The position of Smith may be true but the question is that why should a government engage in secret policy when it knows frankly that it would not speak well for it to pronounce that in public. Not only this, why is it that government is not keen about saving the lives of its citizens that were sent to protect its image. Col. Nelson’s address to Omega 12 at the training ground is clear enough to serve as a pointer for our position. It goes thus:

You will be joining intelligence mission alongside Peace-Keeping forces in Somalia, Burundi, Liberia and Angola. Remember, if you are ever captured, your name does not exist in any federal government list and Federal Republic will deny any knowledge of you. Is that clear?

People in government should operate open policies if they want society to be free of insecurity or be reduced to thebarest minimum. The people they use as tools may turn against them in future. Many Nigerians are not convinced that Boko Haram does not exist in Nigerian government.There are some secret dealings which many believe are not known to the public in the issue of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Consequently, there are many questions that are waiting for responses. Where did Boko Haram get sophisticated weapons used in their operations? Although, some claim that the weapons could be sent to them from international terrorist groups like them since they have gone international. But, how did the weapons and other materials such as cars, cloths, money, etc, get to them? Many of its members have been arrested. Does it mean that none of them has confessed the source of their sponsorship? In addition, Kabiru Sokoto, a prominent member of the sect was arrested in Bornu Governor’s lodge. What was he doing there? Has he not said anything about their sponsorship? He is still in the custody of Nigerian Police.These are questions that require convincing answers if truly the terrorist group does not have anything to do with government or some eminent dignitaries in government.

Another vital point which one sees ignite the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria was extra judicial killing of its leader, Muhammed Yusuf and his father-in-law when they were arrested. Obviously, this is a violation of fundamental human rights when they were not tried legally. Danjibo argues that:

The July 2009 Boko Haram crisis is another illustration of Nigeria’s crude response to crisis management and was justified by saying that the sectarian movement wanted to depose the government of President Yar’Adua. Security forces, especially the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police were said to have engaged in reckless killings of members of the sect. An eye witness recounted to Newswatch: “They are killing these people like chickens,” obviously referring to the indiscriminate manner by which members of the sect were being killed by Nigerian security forces (13).

The awkward attitude of government to manage crisis could also be seen as a source for their crude and ruthless counter-reaction. In addition, the way Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian President handled two cases of crisis in Bayelsa State (Odi community) and Benue State (Tiv people in Zaki-Biam) was worrisome as such could invoke reckless counter-reaction. This was a bad government policy which is detrimental to Nigerian democracy. The militarisation of the state could result to counter-reaction which was demonstrated on a large scale in the Niger Delta during Obasanjo’s regime as President. It was the similar situation in Bornu State with Boko Haram.

If we are in doubt of the activities of government, what about the obvious failure of the government to cater for basic needs of Nigerians both old and young, such as, economic, educational, socio-political and cultural, which if denied may create a kind of counter-reactions against government as seen in Boko Haram. Report has it that many Almajeri in the North that serve as foot soldiers for Boko Haram are victims of government failure to provide them economic, socio-political and cultural needs. Danjibo opines that:

Perhaps the most viable explanation for the recurrent violence ... is the failure of good governance in Nigeria. During the “BokoHaram” crisis, Aljazeera made an impressive analysis about the situation in Nigeria; a country that is the 5th largest producer of oil in the world but where the vast bulk of the population live below the poverty line of $1 a day. Northern Nigeria is the worst hit by poverty according to Charles Soludo, the former Central Bank Governor. His statistics show that the North-Central recorded 67%; the North-West recorded 71.1% and the North-East recorded 72.2% of people living below the poverty line (16).

Wole Soyinka in his lecture delivered at the Brown University, United States of America and entitled “Hatched from the Egg of Impunity: a Fowl Called Boko Haram” traced the emergence of Boko Haram from the activities of some Islamic scholars in the North since 1960s to 1970s. He was very particular to Sheikh Abubakar Guma and Ibrahim El-Zakizaki, (an expelled student from Ahmad Bello University, (ABU) on the 14th December, 1979), Zaria, among others, and their provocative statementsagainst Christianity and the Nigerian statego thus “Christianity is nothing” and “... a Christian President for Nigeria, that will happen over my dead body” and “Damn with the Nigerian constitution, Islam only” which was an inscription on the buses he led to protest against Nigerian state on the 4th May, 1980.

Soyinka further stressed that such individual was not checked for that because of his influence at the national level. He also cited several instances of religious crimes being committed in the North and in most cases the perpetrators were not brought to justice. Giving such undue and unconstitutional privilege to people endangers such a society. And he posits that “Do not concede a thing to the enemy of humanity.” Danjibo also corroborates Soyinka’s argument when he argued that in 2005 during “Operation Sawdust” in the North and some individuals including Mohammed Yusuf were arrested. And when Yar’Adua became the Nigerian President, they were released after some appeal from some Northern elites (15). Danjibo narrates that:

They were kept in prison custody until ex-President Obasanjo left office in 2007. When Musa Yar’Adua accessed to the Presidency, some Muslim scholars and elites lobbied for the release of arrested fundamentalists by persuading him they were simply Islamic evangelists. President Yar’Adua therefore ordered the release of Yusuf and some other fundamentalists (15).


The essay dwelt on the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria, drawing its analysis from State of Emergency, a film made to address insecurity. The essay noted some crises which erupted in Nigeria since 1960, after the Independence. We levelled all the blames of the crises on various governments at all levels in Nigeria. We also discussed State of Emergency as a tool to address insecurity in Nigeria. And this was done through the lens of reader-response criticism, making positions from our own stand-points. Finally, we posited that governments at all levels have failed for not doing their expectations as at when due.

FBI is one of the security outfits in the film. The motif is novel but one expects that such crucial agency in the film should have been NIA to make it indigenous or home-made. The use of FBI sounds borrowed as it limits the extent of genuineness of the creation of the film. And we can say without any equivocation or reservation that that is a colonial regurgitation in post-colonial era in Africa which African arts in all forms should be wary of. Aside that, the film, we strongly believe, is a work to reckon with in relation to the issues of insecurity at all times.


Works Cited

Ademoyega, Adewale. Why We Struck: the Story of the First Nigerian Coup. Ibadan: Evans Brothers Ltd, 2012.

Ayakoroma, Barclays Foubiri. Trends in Nollywood: a Study of Selected Genres. Ibadan: Kraft Book Ltd, 2014.

Danjibo, Nathaniel D. “Boko Haram” Crises in Northern Nigeria.” Retrieved 2 June 2015. www.ifra-nigeria.org/IMG/

-------------. “Islamic Fundamentalism and Sectarian Violence: The “Maitatsine.” Retrieved 2 June 2015. www.ifra-nigeria.org/IMG/

Dobie, Ann B. Theory into Practice: an Introduction to Literary Criticism. 2nd Ed. Boston: Michael Rosenberg, 2009.

Falola, Toyin. Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies. New York: University of Rochester, 1998.

Soyinka, Wole. The Credo of Being and Nothingness. Reprinted. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd, 2000.

Traore, Bakary. The Black African Theatre and its Social Functions. Trans. Dapo Adelugba. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Press, 1997.  


Soyinka, Wole. “Hatched from the Egg of Impunity: a Fowl Called Boko Haram.” Retrieved 24 June 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT5_k9bnpF4.

State of Emergency 1 & 2. Dir. Teco Benson, 2000.