Most people who know anything about Nigeria know only about it’s oil-rich south, but it’s a country of 170 million people that’s almost half Christian and half Muslim.
The northern half is more rural and more Muslim, with more people inclined to believe that education, especially that of girls, is a western ideal – not a Nigerian ethic.
The kidnapping is now enraging the world, it happened at a northern boarding school, stealing from this struggling region some of the brain power that could develop it.
Surrounded by words he hopes will become a global way of life, Dr. Ernest Uwazie can’t silence the latest echoes of violence from his homeland.
Three weeks into the abduction and suspected sale of as many as 276 Nigerian school girls, the leader of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram shouts about his deeds through a newly released video.
While heart-broken families have been demanding action, Nigerian’s president and international leaders are just now speaking out and getting involved.
Professor Uwazie, who directs the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution at Sacramento State University, says the biggest obstacle to Nigeria being able to able to bring back its own girls may unfortunately be the infiltration of Boko Haram into the government.
“It is somewhat strange that this operation, in an area where there is a state of emergency from news reports, has taken place over a four or five hour period at a school. It might have even taken a full day and a half for this group to leave the town where this occurred. (It is) not something that happened at night time. Nobody knew. So, it is puzzling,” Uwazie said.
Routing corruption in the president’s political ranks is a long-term goal.
In the short-term, Uwazie applauds President Goodluck Jonathan’s new willingness to ask for help in this crisis and says Jonathan must also be willing to find a way for all sides to save-face in discussing how to return the girls.
“You have to negotioate with your enemy. How you do it, who does it, at what level you do it are certainly important questions that need to be carefully thought out,” he said.
Tuesday there was another kidnapping of eight to 11 more Nigerian schoolgirls thrown into a bus at gunpoint.
Many critics of the delayed international response in this case say it comes down to color – that nearly 300 white girls would never have vanished anywhere in the world without an immediate global uproar.
They believe that if there had been that early uproar, perhaps there wouldn’t have been a sale of the first group of kidnapped girls…or the abduction of the second.