Socio-psychological deconstruction of fear of Boko Haram in Nigeria: The Nigerian media perspective

Chris Uchenna Agbedo, Doofan Buluan, Ebere C. Krisagbedo


This paper examines the language of fear and anxiety as an adaptive response to Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. In particular, the paper is interested in investigating the various contexts of fear, horror and terror, and assessing issues surrounding the linguistic significance of them. Using data drawn mainly from the Nigerian print media, it explores issues which lie at the interface of fear, horror and terror. In this regard, a theoretical underpinning of language of insurgency as a source of fear and horror in the Nigerian context is attempted. We examine the issues from the perspective of direct and indirect victims of Boko Haram acts of terrorism and insurgency who have been provoked by experiences of fear, horror and terror to give verbalise them by utilizing the immense linguistic resources at their disposal. By adopting a kind of flight response to the Boko Haram insurgency, the victims manifest the three basic conditions, which elicit anxiety- over-stimulation, cognitive incongruity, and response unavailability. For the direct victims, their cognitive, behavioural and physiological responses become debilitating as some optimal level of stimulation is aroused due mainly to failure to release benzodiapines, which are necessary for the amount of Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GAMA) needed to regulate neuronal transmission. As regards the indirect victims represented by the Federal Government, the allurement of verging on the anvil of defence mechanism, illusion, and denial to simulate a semblance of national security in the face of raging Boko Haram inferno loses its appeal. This rude awakening summoned on the part of Government a renewed kind of political will, temerity and galvanic purposefulness to tackle the Boko Haram challenge with the full complement of its defence, security, and intelligence infrastructure. The paper’s optimistic projection is that the success of the ‘carrot and stick’ campaign aimed at decapitating Boko Haram insurgency will go a long in stemming the corroding tide of fear and anxiety racking Nigerians and indeed the international community.


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ISSN (Paper)2224-3267 ISSN (Online)2224-3275

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