News - October 10, 2013

Meanwhile in… Nigeria

In the news: Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram (‘Western education is sinful’) shot dead at least 40 students last week on a university campus in Nigeria. The terrorists opened fire as the students lay sleeping in the dormitories of the Agricultural College in the north-eastern province of Yobe.

Nigerian Okenna Obi-Nioku, who just graduated with an MSc in Biosystems Engineering, comments on the events.

‘Sadly, this is not the first time something like this has happened. In the past there have been even bigger bloodbaths. At first it upset me very much. But since then there have been so many attacks, and time and again the government has proven incapable of preventing fresh bloodbaths. It should have been stopped long ago. So the depressed feeling has gradually changed into one of disappointment and frustration.

Nigeria is a vast country, with about 170 million people spread over 250 tribes, with big differences between them. I myself come from the south; Boko Haram is only active in the north. I did voluntary work in the north for a year, and the people there are among the friendliest in the world. There is not a single ideology in Nigeria with which you could justify what Boko Haram does. I sometimes wonder how they can bring themselves to commit such evil acts.

The whole situation is a result of bad leadership. Attacks have been going on for a long time in the three northern provinces where Boko Haram is active. But President Jonathan only declared a state of emergency in May, much later than everyone expected. Worse still, the roots of the problem are not being tackled; poverty and poor education. Although this action by President Jonathan has come too late, it will prevent Boko Haram from spreading further. The organization is not very popular. Young people are mobilizing to oppose them. It will take time but eventually we will solve this problem. Nigeria as a whole is stronger than any individual region. That is the way of thinking that keeps me going – I have hope.’