Challenges Of Living In Chibok, Nigeria

Challenges Of Living In Chibok, Nigeria

Via Brachy > Challenges Of Living In Chibok, Nigeria

Even the most geographically aware wouldn’t have known the name of Chibok, a city in the Borno State Local Government Area of Nigeria. It shot into public attention when a radical Islamist outfit, Boko Haram that is affiliated to Al-Qaida, abducted around 300 Christian school girls.

This incident shocked and world and revealed the growing menace of Islamic extremism in a country that so far, had escaped its vicious grip. But as an avid explorer, I decided to know more about the place and discover it personally. Very often, our views of a place may get disproportionately affected by a negative news story.

As a committed wanderer, I have discovered that judging a place on the basis of a negative incident is unfair.

Parents of some of the victims of the 2014 Chibok kidnapping mourn their losses.

It was with this intent of getting to know more about Chibok that I set out for the place in late 2016. The political division of Nigeria is unique. Chibok is located in the North-Eastern Part of the country in Borno State. This is not a town but a ‘Local Government Area’ which means it is one of 774 such places in Nigeria. These are governed by Local Government Council headed by an elected Chairman and elected Councilors.

There is a town named Chibok which serves as the headquarters of the Local Government Area. When you arrive in this place, the diversity and complexity of Nigeria immediately strikes you. This place has a majority of Christians but also a significant minority of Muslims. The communal divide wasn’t a problem before but in the wake of growing radicalization, it’s starting to become an issue.

The language spoken here is Kibaku which is one of the more than 500 languages that exist in Nigeria. In most of the urban parts of the country, it’s easy to get along with English but here in the North Eastern part of the country, you may struggle at times to make yourself understood properly.

What is clearly evident when you roam around the place is that this is no tourist destination.

Rather, it is a place that is in dire need of aid and reconstruction. In fact, not just reconstruction but wholesale new development of the most basic infrastructure is needed to make it a comfortable place for the residents.

The abduction of the school girls in Chibok was only one of the manifestations of the crisis that has been brewing in the North-eastern region of Nigeria. This place has been ravaged with militancy and insurgency that has displaced thousands of people. Boko Haram (it means prohibition of western education) has been tormenting the people of this region since its formation in 2009.

The ensuing conflict has dislocated as many as 1.6 million people in the three north-eastern states of the country. These internally displaced people (IDP’s) have to take shelter in camps set up of them that are lacking in the most basic facilities are, yet, their only safe haven.

As an outsider, I was often mistaken as a volunteer for UN humanitarian organisations and approached for help and, indeed, I did give a hand to local agencies trying to help out the sufferers but couldn’t do much.

The freedom of movement is greatly restricted due to the security perimeter that has been set up the agencies.

People who venture out of this perimeter, especially foreigners, are in serious danger of getting attacked.

Another major source of worry has been the scarcity of water. This has also led to drop in farming production creating food shortages. All in all, it can be said that the situation is dire and unless the global community pays attention, it won’t improve.

The Silver Lining

While the reader may feel it’s all doom and gloom in Chibok, there is one very positive thing that I noticed in, not just this region, but also in other parts of Nigeria.

It’s the strength of women.

They are usually very assertive and often are the leaders at home. Some of them have even taken the route to radicalism and have joined terrorist organisations. But most of them are leading their families robustly and even tend to dominate their husbands. With financial aid and greater education, these women could transform the country.

Empowering women for the betterment of the country