Nigerians React to Boko Haram Slaughter of College Students
Dozens of students were gunned down in their sleep in dormitories at an agricultural college in northeast Nigeria Sunday morning. As Nigerians mourn their loss, they also reflect on the terrorist forces of Boko Haram, believed to be responsible for the attack.
Kingsley Obiakor, a resident of Abagana, Nigeria, asked via Facebook, “Nigeria my country which way forward?”
“It’s really sad that the future of my country is … [being destroyed] in the name of terrorism,” he wrote. He said all government approaches seem to have failed; Obiakor appealed to the much-discussed Sovereign National Conference (SNC).
Some Nigerians call for a conference to bring together various ethnic and social groups to discuss a way forward. A similar conference in Ethiopia helped resolve internal disputes and draft a new constitution.
Sunday’s attack at the College of Agriculture Gujba in Yobe State, was one of several perpetrated by Boko Haram on students this summer. The Islamist group generally sees schools as a symbol of Western education, which it is against. An official death toll has not yet been given, but it is expected to be 40 to 50 students, witnesses have told local media.
Former Chief of Defense, General Martin Luther Agwai, said military might will not end Boko Haram’s terror, which has its roots in political and social problems.
“You can never solve any of these problems with military solutions,” he said at a book-launch event Saturday before the attack, according to Nigeria’s Daily Post.
He admitted “The military can always be an enabling force. .. They will stabilize the area.” But, he added, “It is a political issue; it is a social issue; it is an economic issue, and until these issues are addressed, the military can never give you a solution.”
Mdyusuf Maikanti, a businessman in Abuja, Nigeria, wrote on Facebook Sunday in response to the attack in Yobe: “Nigerians are justified to feel outraged. In our outrage let’s remember that the enemy are the terrorists and we are facing them together. … Unfortunately, even with a surge of troops on the ground incidences like these may still occur but we must remain focused.”
Edreez Bouker Abberh, a resident of Lagos, Nigeria, wrote on Facebook: “I am deeply saddened by the horrific news of gunmen senselessly claiming the promising lives of over 40 students … Today is not a day for us to throw blames or point fingers of accuse, but rather a day to act swiftly to bring … perpetrators to book and to support our security agencies to prevent [these] type of attacks in the future. If truly our youths are the future of this nation, then we must be ready to do everything to protect them.”
Last week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who was believed dead, released an unverified video mocking those who thought him dead and vowing continued action. Though Shekau is held as a leader, Boko Haram is believed to be made up of loosely related factions that may not operate under a central command.
Nigerian blogger Nedu Echianu quotes Shekau’s words in the video: “Here I am, alive, hale and hearty. … President [Goodluck] Jonathan [of Nigeria] should bury himself in shame, President Obama [of the United States] should bury himself in shame, and President Francois Hollande [of France] should bury himself in shame, Queen Elizabeth [of England] should bury herself in shame.”
He said: “I will never allow democracy to thrive.”
Zanna Mustapha, governor of northeastern state Borno, is leading a campaign to address the root causes of terrorism in the region. Borno and Yobe have both been in a state of emergency since May.
Mustapha told the Associated Press in August: “We are trying to look inward at what is the immediate cause and who are these people [in Boko Haram].”
The state is drawing on the knowledge and resources of psychologists, agriculture experts, security forces, and others to turn young men away from Boko Haram recruiters, toward a productive and healthy path.