“Save Our Girls” is a Microcosm of a Much Bigger Issue in Nigeria

Reggie Fullwood
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Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood
Historian John Henrik Clarke once said, “Wherever we are on the face of the earth, we are an African people.”

For blacks in America, there has never been any doubt ofwhere we originate, but there has been a disconnect from our native lands of Africa. We watch the ups and downs and challenges that many countries on the African continent face and are helpless to the struggles.

So when news reports come stating that a terrorist group has kidnapped some 200 young ladies in Nigeria it is not only disheartening, but also unbelievable. We automatically think that if that would have happened in the U.S. – law enforcement, the government, media, families, etc. wouldn’t sleep until those girls were returned.

But we know that Nigeria is no United States, but the sad fact is that the African nation should be much morestronger and stabilized. In fact, Nigeria should be an African powerhouse.

It’s a country that is home to Africa’s largest economy and has a population of approximately 175 million.  The economy is so strong because of the abundant oil reserves. We know that big oil creates jobs and capital for developing nations.

But despite having the strongest economy in Africa and oil for days,  around 100 million people live in poverty.  In case your math is a little off – that’s roughly 60 percent of the population.  And there have also been times that thegovernment hasn’t been able to keep the lights on.

It doesn’t really add up right? Strong economy, oil reserves, so money shouldn’t be a problem right?  Well money isn’t the problem – corruption is the culprit.

“The important thing is not how much money a person makes: it is what he does with it that matters,” said A.G. Gaston, a black businessman.  The bible tells us that money is the root of all evil.  Corruption is insidious in Nigeria. And like many other developing nations, politics is a popular means of self-enrichment.

Because of civil war, the country has also endured extended military rule, which limits democracy and breeds further corruption.

Public service for many has become personal service.  Violence is the country is such a major issue that there are armed checkpoints and high walls surrounding many residential homes and neighborhoods.

And to make matters worse – the country is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims and I am sure that I don’t have to explain how that complicates politics.

Mob violence between Christians and Muslims have added to the instability and caused many deaths in the country – especially in the “Middle Belt” where Muslim majority states border Christian majority states.

So why the foreign affairs briefing on Nigeria? Well, it’s important that we put the “Save Our Girls” movement in context.

How do we save our girls if they are in country with great financial resources, but limited political will and ability? It is not like it’s a secret about who took the girls – Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group.

They have been at reeking havoc on the country for years. We are focusing on the young ladies that were kidnapped, but they have attacked other schools and killed dozens of young men as well. According to NATO, they have also attacked police stations, churches, newspaper offices, busterminals, etc. They don’t seem to discriminate.

According to various sources, Boko Haram began more than a decade ago, but started as more of a civil rights group and later turned to violence and terrorism after its leader was killed in government custody in 2009.  By the way, the name is loosely translated as non-Muslim education is prohibited.

The most important question that most are asking is what is the Nigerian government doing to find these girls and stop this extremist group?

Well, the obvious answer is not enough. And many fear that it might be too little too late because the girls have probably been shipped off to neighboring countries by now.The region where BH operates is a remote area mixed with heavy jungles and mountains.

What the kidnapping has done is highlighted the dysfunction and utter failure of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.  Reports coming out of Africa say that not only did the military have some warning of a pending attack, but they also did very little stop it and their response of lacking.

Initially, the government did not even acknowledge the kidnapping, and they even had the nerve to reject offers for foreign assistance.

To use my favorite Cornell West quote – “I am a prisoner of hope.” I refuse to believe that we can’t save these girls. If not all – as many as possible.

But this can’t be just about the girls – it’s also about a nation that should be leading all of Africa not stuck in the quagmire of corruption and chaos.  It’s not time for anothercoup d’état – it’s time for holistic government reform in Nigeria.

Bring back our girls and save what should be a great nation on the continent of Africa.

Signing off from Duval County, FL

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