What makes Nigeria so unique

Nigeria is a "terminally ill country"

In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with around 200 million people, there is no real festive mood in the 60th year of its independence. Islamist terror in the north, dramatic environmental pollution from the oil industry in the south and rampant corruption throughout the country may not spoil the mood of those in power in the capital Ambuja, but many people are wondering whether the state of Nigeria in 2020 is really what is happening independence was promised with a lot of pathos on October 1, 1960: a free and self-determined republic. Bitter poverty prevails in large parts of the country today. Nigeria - despite its wealth - has long been considered the sick man of West Africa. In addition to the blatant inequalities in the economy, it is increasingly crime and serious human rights violations that President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been in office since 2015, has no means to counter.

Political offices filled unilaterally

Church officials call for the root causes of violence in Nigeria to be tackled.

Among other things, he is accused of ruling the country autocratically and unilaterally filling state offices with Muslims. The bishop of Sokoto in northwestern Nigeria, Matthew Hassan Kukah, complains about this. In a multi-ethnic state like Nigeria, the political leadership must come from all social classes, said Kukah. The state of emergency that has existed since April to contain the corona pandemic has made the situation even worse. The main victims are girls and women. The local media repeatedly report rape as a particularly blatant consequence of the restrictions on public life, which lead to a reduction in social control. Then there is isolation and unemployment. In addition, there are increasing indications that young Christian women in particular are affected. The reports that have become known are often related to attacks on churches or forced conversions to Islam.

Attacks on Christians

One example is the fate of the 22-year-old student Uwaila Omozuwa, a practicing Protestant Christian. She has been studying in the Church of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Benin City, the capital of the Nigerian state of Edo, for years. It was quiet there on June 3rd, she had space and felt safe. But men broke into the church and raped Uwaila Omozuwa. The pastor found her lying in a pool of blood. She died three days later. Mass protests broke out across the country, which had been launched on social media under the hashtag #WeAreTired. According to the Catholic aid agency Kirche in Not and the Christian aid agency Open Doors, Christian women were raped by members of the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram long before Corona.

Growing aggressiveness

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, aggressiveness has been growing. "The increasing number of heinous rape crimes is appalling," says Archbishop of Abuja Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, adding, "Rape inflicts an indescribable psychological trauma on victims. Rape is not only a grave sin, but also an extremely barbaric one and criminal act. We hope that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes will be severely punished under the law. ”Just a first step: all 36 states of Nigeria declared a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children.

Where is the way going?

Quo vadis, Nigeria, 60 years after gaining independence? Tukur Abdulkadir, a political scientist at Kaduna State University, is pessimistic. He told Deutsche Welle about the negative consequences of Nigeria's dependence on oil exports: “We have built the largest steel mill in Africa. He's almost dead now. The railroad industry used to be a thriving industry, we exported cotton, peanuts, coffee and cocoa. We don't achieve much with that today. "Many said that as long as Nigeria's political and economic elites benefited from oil exports, little will change. In fact, the country is said to have lost more than 326 billion euros to corruption since 1960.

A terminally ill country

In his speech on the 60th anniversary of Nigeria's independence, the retired Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, spoke of a "terminally ill country" whose difficulties the political class could not get under control. A country cannot be run “by means of propaganda”, nor can its development be promoted by criminalizing dissenting opinions, said the cardinal. Sixty years after the so-called "African Year 1960", Nigeria is not alone in a terrifying record. 17 other states on the continent became independent at that time, including crisis areas such as the Central African Republic or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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