Odinaka Uroko, 17, a graduating student of the University of Nigeria Secondary School, is frustrated with the fact that hundreds of teenage girls from her country were abducted and remain missing. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria – Following global outrage at the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok, the atmosphere here is filled with sadness, anger and frustration.
Virtually everyone has something to say, words and emotions pour out like rain and the heightened state of disappointment remains unabated.
Odinaka Uroko, 17, who is finishing secondary school in Nsukka this month, couldn’t hide her dissatisfaction with the whole situation.
“It’s ridiculous that all those schoolgirls were abducted without the knowledge of the teachers,” Uroko said. “It’s totally illogical!”
Omosalewa Sulaimon, 23, is a first year mass communication student at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.
“I feel very bad,” said Sulaimon. “If there is something I can do, I wish I could help out.”
With a disinterested look, Mary Chima, 20, said it’s rather appalling that those missing schoolgirls have not been found.
Omosalewa Sulaimon, a first-year student of mass communication at the University of Nigeria, would like to do whatever she could to help. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
“We should continue to pray for them,” said Chima, in her second year of studying English at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. She added that the protests to raise awareness “should not be stopped until those girls are found.”
It’s been 24 days now since terrorists from the Boko Haram – an Islamic extremist group that opposes Western education – abducted the girls from their dormitory at night.
All efforts made to find them have proved futile. But with support from the U.S., the UK, and subsequently promises from France and China to help in finding the girls, hope is growing as dissatisfaction is fading.
Oluchi Modupe, 13, a student at the University of Nigeria Secondary School, believes Nigeria needs help to combat insurgency.
“It’s a good to have the international community throw in their support,” she said. “We really need help because our military is not too capable – we need experts.”
But her classmate, Chizaram Obasi, 13, disagreed.
Chizaram Obasi, 13, a student at the University of Nigeria Secondary School in Nsukka, said it could be dangerous to have foreign troops involved. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
Obasi said sending foreign troops could be dangerous.
“Trying to bring in troops is not a good idea,” Obasi said, because the radical group might not release the girls – or do even worse.
According to 21-year-old Priscillia Amadi, conflicting reports in the media have made the situation worse. The school, the military and the state government released contradictory figures of how many girls were stolen.
Amadi, in her final year of studying psychology at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, said the conflicting reports have greatly contributed to a “feeling of indifference” among discerning Nigerians.
Taking aim at the media, Amadi said, “Get your facts right. Verify the facts first before sending out any information.”
Obasi also said the media shouldn’t give false information.
“They shouldn’t report anything which is not true,” said Obasi.
Modupe said it matters whether reports are true.
“The media must give accurate information and stop confusing us,” Modupe said.
Despite the state of insecurity that drapes
over the country, all the women and girls interviewed said they feel safe, but
still called on all Nigerians to be security conscious like never before.
Mary Chima, a second-year student of English at the University of Nigeria, said protests to raise awareness should continue until the girls are found. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
The trending hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls
tweeted with connection to the abduction, has not only created international
awareness and support, but has also thrown more pressure on the government to
collaborate with foreign countries in the search for the abducted schoolgirls.
Another hashtag, #RealMenDontBuyGirls, has
also gone viral. According to the BBC, #BringBackOurGirls
has been tweeted more than 1.6 million times globally.
Because of all the international attention, Modupe
urged President Goodluck Jonathan to be cautious when speaking to the media.
Confidential information about the missing
girls should not be shared with all those in government circles, Modupe said,
because not all government officials are trustworthy.
And along with others interviewed, Modupe
said Nigeria clearly must increase security around its schools.
Linus Okechukwu is a Senior Reporter and Festus Iyorah is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.