The Crisis in Nigeria – Why It Matters

First, the reasons why it matters to the world.

Nigeria is the most populous African nation with a population of about 175 million. Its population has quadrupled in the last 50 years and is still growing rapidly.

Nigeria has vast offshore oil reserves and numerous other natural resources which have generated great wealth for the country.

Nigeria is split nearly in half between Muslims and Christians. Hostilities between members of the two religions are deep-seated. The recent kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria is just the latest violent episode in a conflict that has been going on for a long time. The kidnappings have caused the US finally to classify Boko Haram, the group responsible for the kidnappings, as a terrorist organization.

Countries do better when girls/women are given formal education. When a country discourages the education of women the it falls behind the rest of the world. One of Boko Haram’s main objectives is to ban western education and especially the education of women.

If a terrorist organization such as Boko Haram can gain a foothold in Nigeria what other terror groups will also be invited in?

The Nigerian government is notorious for corruption. The US has been pouring aid into the country pretty much since its independence from Britain in 1960.  Much of it has gone to the country’s leaders who are more concerned with enriching themselves than helping their country and protecting its citizens.

Nigerians are smart. Those who have immigrated to the US have done extremely well here.

Why it matters to me.

As a kid I lived in Nigeria for five and half years while my parents served as Lutheran missionaries. We lived in the city of Jos which is in the middle of the country and the capital of one of the regions of Nigeria. Because it is an important city in the middle of the country it has become a battleground between the Muslims in the north and the Christians in the south.

This week two bomb blasts went off in Jos. They went off in the Jos market where we missionary kids used to hang out on Saturdays. The death toll has been placed at 118.  According to the Associated Press, the first bomb was placed in a white van that sat for hours in the market, raising suspicion among the vendors. They reported it to the authorities but nothing was done. If that does not reek of corruption I don’t know what does.

Another bomb went off in the city of Kano, another city I visited numerous times. That bomb killed  25 people. In April two bombs killed 120 people in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria.

Stay tuned.

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