Some international Nigerian students in Windsor say more could have been done by their country’s government to find nearly 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram a year ago Tuesday.
The girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, a remote village in northeast Nigeria, last April.
On the first anniversary of the day 276 schoolgirls were snatched in the middle of the night from their boarding school, Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari says he must be honest about the prospects of getting the 219 girls who are still missing back to their families.
“We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown,” Buhari said in a statement. “As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.”
“It’s really surprising how 200 girls could go missing and they’re no where to be found, it’s a shock to us,” said 19-year-old Precious Alasa, who has been studying communications at the University of Windsor since January.
Alasa hopes Nigeria’s new government will do more about the situation.
“It’s one year already and if something is not done right now it might even get to two years, three years, and we don’t know what’s happening with these kids,” said Alasa. “Maybe they’re sold to slavery, maybe they are married … they are pretty young girls, they are young children so it’s really frustrating.”
Blessing Anyaso said as a young girl herself she feels for the kidnapped girls. Anyaso has also been studying at the University of Windsor with Alasa.
“The majority of them are Christian, and since Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group I think they’re going to try to convert most of them to Islam against their will,” she said.
“They’re really young they’re going to marry them off, some of them might even be dead.”
Anyaso’s message to the girls is that “they should be strong, they should keep having faith in God.”
Adenike Adekunle, 17, was back in Nigeria in December and said her church has a special prayer dedicated to the girls every Sunday.
“It’s just very sad that they’re not still found,” said Adekunle. “I feel very bad for them because I can imagine my own sister, or even me, being there.”
Adekunle also said she feels the situation is giving her country a bad image.
“When I was in Toronto and we had a politics class … they would want to make an example of a country that’s going through issues, and they brought up Nigeria,” explained Adekunle.
“I felt very ashamed because I’m from there and these things are happening and our government isn’t doing anything productive. It’s been a year since and we have no idea if they’ve been killed, if they’re alive,” she said.