Nigerian unrest due to unequal distribution of resources

Abducted school girls pawns in a dangerous game

William Covington | 7/18/2014, midnight
Three months after 276 young girls were stolen from the “safety” of the private Chibok School in Northern Nigeria by ...
Cover Design By Andrew Nunez

Looking at education, Nigeria is the country with the highest percentage of children not in school, according to a study by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The sheer size of the country and endemic corruption has caused certain areas to become completely marginalized and neglected. There is the traditional division between the Northern and Southern areas, carefully taken care of in the country’s political system, with power-sharing agreements at the center of a precarious balance in what is essentially a battle between different elites fighting over the administration of Nigeria’s enormous economic potential.

In the context of vastly expanding wealth on the one hand, and a continuous marginalization of areas and communities on the other, it is easy to foretell the rise of radical currents of resistance, of which Boko Haram is, at present, the most prominent.

“It might be hard for you to understand as an outsider, but the reason there was no revolt here in the U.S. of this magnitude with the African American population is because they give you something,” Naka explained. “You have public education. Maybe it stinks in the inner city but at least you have a school for your kids; they have free lunch. The U.S. is the only country in the world where poor people are fat. There are no fat poor people in Northern Nigeria. There are no schools. No roads, no clean water, no toilets for the poor in Northern Nigeria. So many resources are leaving Africa at discounted rates. If Africa could get a fair price for its goods, there would be no poor people in Africa.”

According to Reuters, since 1960, $400 million in oil revenue has been stolen from the government. There are currently billions in surplus in the government coffers. However, according to reports there is $60 billion in audit and another $67 billion that is unaccounted for.

Boko Haram represents the country’s Northern region and despite media reports, that the conflict is a Christian vs. Muslim issue, Naka says the true tension is the result of unequal distribution of resources.

Naka believes Boko Haram sees the Chibok school girls as the children of the Nigeria’s rich who have stolen revenue from government exports—money which should have been sent to the North to build up their infrastructure.

Naka says, the North’s attitude is “we are dying anyway from malaria and dysentery so… we have nothing to lose.”

There is speculation that teachers and administrators at the school may have been aware of the impending abduction. Naka goes on to describe how on April 14, the head administrator was away from the campus during the abduction. When questioned about her absence, she stated it wasn’t unusual telling reporters that she suffers from diabetes and was obtaining medical treatment in Maiduguri, the state capital. When asked about the safety of her daughter, also a student at the school, she was safe at home and her absence was due to her mother not being at the school. The head administrator’s daughter would have stayed at the school that night, if it wasn’t for her mom’s medical appointment.