Many northerners have come to regard the Nigerian government as a failure, too corrupt to be trusted. While power has been shared with the main ruling party, rotating presidential candidates from north to south, most development and job creation occurs in the coastal south, and many northern Nigerians blame the powerful Christian southern elites for the neglect of development in the north.
In the late 1990s, northern politicians began pressing for the introduction of Islamic law in northern states. But Boko Haram leader Mohammad Yusuf played up disappointment with the implementation of sharia, saying that harsh sentences were meted out only to the poor, and not the corrupt elites.
So Boko Haram seeks a restoration of a caliphate, modeled after the Sokoto kingdom, over Nigeria.