by Musa Abdullahi
The kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok in Nigeria by Boko Haram caught the attention of the world. Some of the girls who escaped are being taught at a school run by the American University of Nigeria.
BBC reports that the university now finds itself helping to feed 270,000 displaced people, pushed out of their own homes by violence. The university’s president describes the humanitarian crisis unfolding around her.
How does an American-style university survive in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been waging war against education?
Can a university function in a town that has doubled in size with people fleeing the terror?
This is a region where thousands of citizens have been killed, villages have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
Against this backdrop, at the edge of Boko Haram controlled territory, sits the American University of Nigeria (AUN), which stands for western education in name and practice.
It is located in Adamawa state, one of three northern Nigerian states in a state of emergency with a curfew. Yet the capital Yola remains a safe haven, free of the violence that plagues so much of the north-east.
But now with an estimated 400,000 “internally displaced persons” in Yola, there is another humanitarian crisis right outside the gates of this outpost of American education.
Raising the alarm
The magnitude of Boko Haram’s devastation was not evident to those outside north-east Nigeria until news reports and photos began showing the violence and devastation.
For those of us here in Yola, we have been daily confronted with the realities of the violence of Boko Haram. Almost a full year ago in March 2014, we were asked by the Emir of Mubi to bring food and clothing to a group of displaced women and girls.
When we asked, “Where are your boys and husbands?” the women cried and then turned quiet. Finally one said: “They were burned or forced to join Boko Haram.”