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The research focuses on the impact of insecurity on the tourism development in Nigeria, between 2000 to 2016 with emphasis on the Nok culture. Insecurity is a paramount issue to development most especially in the area of tourism development. The Nok cultural heritage is gradually eroding as a result of incessant security challenges caused by farners and herders, ethno-religious conflict, that hindered tourism development in the area. Nok as a tourist site has been neglected by critical stakeholders; a development which has negatively affected the tourism sector in Nigeria. With the use of both primary and secondary sources including archival records of tourism and Nok culture memoirs. This study proved that insecurity has hindered tourism development in Nigeria. This study also reveals impact of Nok culture on tourism development in Nigeria, major characteristics of the Nok culture, government recognition of Nok site as a tourist centre, the operation of Nok site as a tourism centre and some of the Nok’s tourism attraction products. The study concludes that there is need for harmonial relationship between various stakeholders to curb social vices in the area.



Background to the Study

Insecurity is a current major concern of the world. The kidnapping, bomb lasts, drug, arsenal, bomb factories and illegal trafficking of children and women are all sources of concern in the world.1 The concept of insecurity was initially developed mostly after World War II in the United States, focusing on the military strength, however, it now encompasses several facets, all of which encroach on the non-military or economic security of the country and the values adopted by the national society.2 In order to attain national security, a nation needs to possess energy security, environmental security, economic security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes but also non-states actors such as violent non-states actors, multi-national corporations and non-governmental organizations. Some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage to the society. Insecurity is a paramount issue to any government. It is indeed a major responsibility of government to safeguard her citizens. Any government that pays lip service to issues of insecurity does so at risk of the entire nation.3

Since attaining independence in 1960, Nigeria has had its own fair share of security challenges and this often affect the socio-political and economic activities to the extent that security issues have remained a fundamental problem to successive governments and the generality of the people. Some of the sources of security challenges in Nigeria have been identified to include: socio-economic agitations, ethno-religious crises, ethnic militias, political and electioneering conflicts, cultism, and criminality, boundary disputes, just to mention but a few. The emergence of the Nigerian militant islamist group, Boko Haram, has been a cause for significant concern.4 Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgents have been responsible for many brutal attacks, targeting strategic and key public officials and institutions, religious centres and, increasingly, ordinary women, men, and children, causing havoc across parts of Northern Nigeria. The Boko Haram activities, therefore, constitute a serious threat to the stability, security, peace, and development of the country. Often ignored in the discourse on security challenges is the multi-dimensional approach to the concept, which seems to have taken a much broader approach or perspective in the 21st century. In other words, insecurity is no longer viewed completely from the military or state – centric perspective as was the case previously. We may, therefore, be losing the point if in our discourse on this subject matter, we erroneously assume that once security is beefed up or tightened by security forces, then the security of a nation is guaranteed. That appears far from the truth5.

One of the fundamental human rights of the people in any given state is the right to security and this is why it is always provided for in the constitution of most sovereign states. Nigeria is not an exception; thus section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution states clearly that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government” although the problem of insecurity is not new in Nigeria, however, since the return of democracy in 1999, hardly a day goes by without a report of one security challenge or the other6. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens and the nation’s economic resources are at the receiving end. The series of bombings and killings in the North, kidnapping and armed robbery attack in the South, political and economic crisis have all combined to hurt the peace of the nation with negative impact on tourism development7.

The World Tourism Travel Council (WTTC) reports that the contributions of the Tourism Sector in Nigeria will remain steady at 2.5% in the next ten years equal to approximately 2.99 billion in 2019.8 The industry also provided about 2.21 million jobs in 2015 which is about 3.6% of total employment in the country.9 The industry also has the potential of providing employment for both skilled and unskilled labour10. These projections may not be realized if the growing insecurity in the country is not addressed.

When it comes to ecotourism, Nigeria has a lot of potential. Indeed, they ranged from white sand beaches, savannahs, tropical vegetations, rainforests, and a number of world heritage sites.11 There are several National Parks and game reserves in Nigeria such as the Gashaka-Gumti National Park in Taraba State which is the largest in the country covering about 600sq km, Kainji Lake National Park in Kwara State, Cross River National Park in Cross River State which is among the richest rainforests in Africa and boasts of a wide range of indigenous wild life the Yankari Game reserve in Bauchi State, the Chad Basin National Park in Yobe State, Jos wild life park, the Old Oyo National Park in Oyo State, among others.12 Cultural tourism is one of the most popular kind of tourism in Africa and Nigeria is not left behind. Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic groups, 6 geopolitical zones and has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage as well as a range of festivals and events that are highly marketable.13 Such cultural tourist attractions include festivals like the Gwong, Kagoro and Adara day in Kaduna State, the Argungu fishing festival, the Imo Carnival, Eyo Festival in Lagos, Calabar Carnival and the Leboku New Yam festival in Cross River.14 Other cultural background tourist appeals include the dyeing pits of Kano, the Osun-Oshogbo shrine and groove,  the Sultan of Sokoto’s Palace in Sokoto, Nok culture terracota’s, the long juju shrine of Arochukwu, etc. There are also many other tourist appeal in Nigeria such as Lagos bar beach, Abraka river resort Abraka, Tarkwa Bay, the Obudu Cattle Ranch, the Ezeagu Tourist Centre in Enugu and many more15.

Efforts made towards the development of tourism in Nigeria is traced to the advisory committee on the promotion of the tourism sector in Nigeria which was set up in 1959.16 The recommendations of the committee led to the formation of the Nigerian Tourist Association (NTA) in 1962 which was financed by both the private and public sectors.17 The NTA was later changed to the Nigerian Tourism Board. The Nigerian Tourism Board was also changed to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in 1991.18 The tourism sector in Nigeria is faced with a number of challenges militating against the efforts of the statutory bodies in charge of the sector to transform it to a vibrant and reality one. These problems range from inadequate security, financial and economic fraud, inadequate infrastructure, over staffed parastatals, corruption and bribery, and inadequate planning to exploit the sector’s potentials, especially the Nok Culture tourist attraction in the southern part of Kaduna State of Nigeria.19

Nok is a small village in the southern part of Kaduna State and is very close to the city of Jos in Plateau State. It was in Nok that the first terracotta and figurines were found dating as far back as 280 BC.20 The Nok culture cuts across Katsina-Ala in North central Nigeria to Kagara, some 482 kilometres to the north-west with the largest concentration of places of the findings in the area between Wamba Jema’a and Nok. These finds aroused great interest all around the world. This is because, the artifacts are proof of a flourishing culture that existed up to two millennia ago.21 The Nok Culture was found in northern Nigeria around 1000 BC and vanished under unknown events around 500 AD, thus having lasted for approximately 1,500 years.22 Iron use, blacsmithing, appeared in Nok culture around 550 BC and possibly earlier.23 The first Nok terracotta figurines were discovered in 1928 by Colonel Dent Young, a co-owner of a mining partnership, near the village of Nok on the Jos Plateau in Nigeria.24

The terracotta were accidentally unearthed at a level of 24 feet from an alluvial tin mine.25 Young presented the sculptures to the museum of the Department of Mines in Jos. Fifteen years later in 1943 near the village of Nok in the center of Nigeria, new series of clay figurines were discovered by accident while mining tin. A clerk in charge of the mine had found a head and had taken it back to his home for use as a scarecrow,26 a role that it filled (successfully) for a year in a yam field. Fagg observed the head on the scarecrow was similar to the sculpture Young had found. Faggs’ journey to Jos uncovered other terracotta figures. It became clear that the tin mining in Nok and Jema'a areas were revealing and destroying archaeological materials27. Data from historical linguistics suggest that blacksmithing was independently discovered in the region prior to 1000 BC.28 In 2005, the scientific field work began which aided to systematically investigate Nok archaeological sites and enhance understanding of Nok terracotta sculptures within their Iron Age archaeological context.29 The function of Nok terracotta sculptures is still unknown. The terracotta figurines are preserved in the form of scattered fragments, for the most part; this is why Nok art is popular today only for the heads, both male and female, whose hairstyles are particularly detailed and refined30. The sculptures are in fragments because the discoveries are usually made from alluvial mud, in terrain made by water erosion. The terracotta sculptures found there are rolled, hidden, polished, and broken. Rarely are works of great size conserved intact, making them highly valued on the international art market.31

The terracotta figurines are coil built, hollow, abundant jewelry, nearly life sized human heads and bodies that are depicted with highly stylized features, and varied postures.32 There is little knowledge of the original function of the pieces, but, theories include grave markers, ancestor portrayal, and charms to prevent crop failure, infertility, and illness.33 Also, based on the dome-shaped bases found on several figures, they could have been used as finials for the roofs of ancient structures.34 Margaret Young-Sanchez, Associate Curator of Art of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania in The Cleveland Museum of Art, explained that most Nok ceramics were shaped by hand from coarse-grained clay and subtractive sculpted in a manner that suggests an influence from wood carving.35

Statement of the Research Problem

Quite a number of works have been turned out on the tourism industry in Nigeria notable among them are; Munzali Dantata, Tourism Development in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for Research Diversification, A.I. Oyedele, Management of Tourism Potentials in Nigeria, Boniface and Cooper, The Geography of Travel and Tourism and John Olu Faoseke, Travel and Tourism.36 So far, the impact of insecurity on the development of tourism in Nigeria has not received scholarly attention. This implies that there is a lacuna or gap in our present knowledge of tourism development in Nigeria. This work seeks to narrow the gap by looking at the impact of insecurity on tourism development in Nigeria in the context of the Nok Culture from 2000 – 2016.

Aim and Objectives of the Study

This study examines the impact of insecurity on tourism development in Nigeria in the context of Nok- Culture from 2000 – 2016, using the following objectives:

·         Development of tourism in Nigeria;

·         Nok Culture and Tourism Development in Nigeria;

·         Security challenges in Nok area and its environs;

·         Impact of Insecurity on Nok Culture

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study focuses on the impact of insecurity on tourism development in Nigeria in the context of Nok Culture from 2000 – 2016. 2000 was chosen as the starting point of the study because it is the year Nigeria recorded high insecurity challenges especially in the Nok Culture area. The year 2016 marked the decline of tourism activities in the area as a result of insecurity challenges therein.37 In the course of the work, the researcher faced a number of challenges. One of such challenge was limited statistical data relating to tourism in Nigeria, and the most of the few available ones are somewhat vague and nebulous. This may make the measurement of progress of the Nigerian tourism sector difficult. This underscores the need to find and explore more possible ways of consulting and collecting data from primary sources.38

Furthermore, resources from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism may not be easily accessible. For instance, financial figures like the budget and expenditure of the ministry were considered confidential. Some of my informants were not forthcoming in the course of interviews apparently for fear of possible repercussion. Despite these limitations, this writer was able to gather adequate information upon which his study is based.

Justification of Study

This work is an effort to narrow the existing gap of knowledge on the impact of insecurity on development of tourism in Nigeria. The findings would help the reader to understand the level of insecurity, in the southern part of Kaduna state and the various mechanisms/strategies used by Nigeria in enhancement of the tourism sector. The study would contribute to the existing body of knowledge and serve as a reference material for future researchers, policy makers, policy implementors in the area of security and tourism in Nigeria.


This work made use of primary and secondary sources. In terms of primary sources, this writer conducted oral interviews at both individual and group levels and the proceedings recorded in electronic device and long hand in notebooks. For secondary sources, the researcher consulted written works including books, journals, internet sources and other relevant written materials. The information collected for the study was interpreted and the findings presented using the descriptive and analytical approaches.

Definition of Terms

For better understanding of this study, there is need to clarify key concepts used in this study beginning with insecurity.


Insecurity entails different meanings such as danger; lack of protection, hazard; absence of safety; uncertainty; and lack of safety. Insecurity is defined from two perspectives. Firstly, insecurity is a state of being subject to threat or danger, while danger is being susceptible to harm or injury. Secondly, insecurity is the state of being exposed to risk or anxiety, while anxiety is a vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some misfortune.39


Security is the ability of a nation to defend its territorial integrity from threats; actual and imagined, as well as acts of aggression from other potential enemies. Security is the level of resistance to, or protection from, harm. It is applicable to any vulnerable and/or valuable asset, such as a person, community, item, dwelling, nation or organization. It also means freedom from anxiety or doubt; well-founded confidence. It could also mean precaution taken to guard against crime, attack, sabotage, espionage.40


The concept of tourism has not been clarified but John O’Dell defines tourism as the temporary movement of people, outside the places where they normally live and their leisure activities during their stay at those destinations. A common factor in all the definitions is that tourism involves temporary movement of people from one place to another.41 Such movements must be aimed at achieving some defined objectives and could be within the country or across the international boundary. This movement could be made by individuals or groups and tourists are often interested in discovering places, sites, things that offers attractions and social comfort.


Culture is the value members of a given group hold, the language they communicate with, the symbols they give reverence, the norms they adopt, and the material goods they make, from tools to clothing. Some aspects of culture, especially the beliefs and expectations people have about each other and the environment they inhabit, are a component of all social relations. Values are abstract ideals. For example, monogamy, the practice of being faithful to a single marriage partner, is a vital value in most Western societies. In other cultures, on the other hand, a person may be allowed to have several wives or husbands simultaneously.42

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