Girls in the Dalori camp for internally displaced people, in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has affected millions of parents and their school-age children, closed down thousands of schools, and made life uncomfortable and unbearable in the affected areas of north-eastern Nigeria. In the states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, regarded as the epicenter of the crisis, educational development has been stunted. More than 2000 schools have been closed in the area and across borders in the three countries – Chad, Cameroon, and Niger – which share borders with the three Nigerian states at the center of the crisis. The Brookings Institution estimates that 3.3 million people have been internally displaced in north-east Nigeria as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. This number of displaced persons due to the Boko Haram conflict accounts for 10% of Internally Displaced Persons worldwide. Though the article that reports this fact has a political tinge, it asserts correctly that the insurgency is far from being defeated by the Nigerian government. The Chibok secondary school girls, abducted in April 2014, still remain in Boko Haram captivity The United Nations believes that a “staggering” 1 million children have been forced out of school because of the crisis.
The article published by The Brookings Institution fails to mention if the Nigerian government has resettled school children in both primary and secondary schools in areas recaptured from Boko Haram. The article is more interested in the politics involved in failing to totally defeat Boko Haram and ignores the tragedies of loss of lives and human capital, and the stalling of development in the areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
By contrast, the Wall Street Journal has a different tinge on the terrorist organization. Writing on August 3, 2016, the Wall Street Journal noted that Boko Haram has changed both name and leadership, further complicating the Nigerian government’s ability to defeat the insurgent terrorists quickly. The terrorist organization now wants to be called Islamic State West African Province after it had pledged allegiance in March 2015 to the Middle East terrorist organization known as ISIS.
Out-of-school children living on the margins of society, between danger and death, between hunger and uncertain future, and living without knowing if their lives will ever be normal again, typify the tragedy of conflict zones. Until the conflict in Nigeria ends, all talk about hope, schooling, the future, or the development of educational skills for these children remain but hot air signifying nothing in the minds of these children.
Jideofor Adibe. Brookings. Re-evaluating the Boko Haram Conflict. February 29, 2016 Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2016/02/29/re-evaluating-the-boko-haram-conflict/
UN News Center. Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency forces one million children from school – UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52879#.V_Uz_yQlS2t
BBC News. Nigeria Chibok Girls: Boko Haram Video Shows Captives. August 14, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37076644
Drew Hinshaw & Gbenga Akingbule. The Wall Street Journal. Islamic State Names New Leader of Boko Haram. August 3, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-newspaper-names-new-leader-of-boko-haram-1470239684