By Mick Krever, CNN
The Nigerian government did not adequately communicate with the press about the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala admitted to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
“This is a very delicate situation with an unpredictable group. And I think that maybe this is one of the areas where we have not been able to communicate as well as we can.”
“The president has two daughters,” she said. “These children are our children. But we did not communicate that well.”
Critics say that far from just releasing bad information, the government released demonstrably false information.
Just days after the kidnapping in April, the Nigerian military announced that all but a handful of the girls had been released; that claim was soon disproved, and the girls are still missing.
“I don’t know how that happened,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “The issue now is not whether we are criticized or not criticized unfairly. I think we should forget about all that.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
The governor of Nigeria’s Borno State, where nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that the government should negotiate with Boko Haram – make a deal “with the devil” – if it means bringing the girls back.
“The issue of not negotiation, of not negotiating with the terrorists – it’s out of the question,” Kashim Shettima said. “If it means talking to the devil, it mean the devil can come down, we can get back our girls.”
Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped the girls, “are a bunch of raving lunatics,” Shettima said.
A month has passed since the girls were kidnapped, and the Nigerian government has been accused of not acting swiftly or efficiently enough to protect villages in the region threatened by Boko Haram.
Sharon Ikeazor, a member of Nigeria’s opposition, told Amanpour that “most of the girls in school had their cell phones” when they were kidnapped.
“They had contacted their parents,” she said. “So they knew when the attack was happening, and the villagers around had reported to the military.”
The government, she said, “could have saved those girls.”
Click below to watch Amanpour’s full conversation with Shettima and Ikeazor.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with the governor of Borno State and a member of the opposition.
Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday, CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked fellow-guest UK Prime Minister David Cameron whether he would join the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
"I don't know, prime minister, whether you would like to hold this and join this campaign," she asked, holding up a sign with the now-famous hashtag written on it.
"Happily," he said, according to the BBC.
Photo courtesy the BBC.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Action by the Nigerian government and international partners to go after the group that has held more than 200 girls captive in that country should have come sooner, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“I think the government should do all it can to get the girls free,” he said, “and I’m very happy that the U.S., the U.K., and other governments are teaming up with Nigeria to resolve this issue.”
“I wish this had happened earlier, but it is happening, and the Nigerian people are also demanding action.”
Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls last month, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has come under fire after waiting three weeks to publicly acknowledge the kidnappings.
The Nigerian government also now accepted U.S. and British offers of assistance, officials with those governments said.
The kidnapping, Annan said, are “abominable.”
“It is something that should not be happening in modern-day Africa.”
Annan is uniquely placed to address the issue.
Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most famous advocate for girls’ right to education, tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that "girls in Nigeria are my sisters."
Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in her native country in 2012. The group targeted her because of our outspoken support for girls' education.
She says that Boko Haram, which kidnapped nearly 300 girls in Nigeria, does not understand Islam.
"I think they haven’t studied Islam yet, they haven’t studied Quran yet, and they should go and they should learn Islam," she told Amanpour from Birmingham, in the UK, where she has been living and attending school. (She is now the face of The Malala Fund.)
"I think that they should think of these girls as their own sisters. How can one imprison his own sisters and treat them in such a bad way?"
You can see Amanpour's full interview with Malala below. FULL POST
By Mick Krever, CNN
The search for more than 200 girls in Nigeria is now “beyond the capacity” of the government and needs international support, Nigerian author Wole Soyinka told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“This is a government which is not only in denial mentally, but in denial about certain obvious steps to take,” Soyinka, a Nobel laureate who is often referred to as the conscience of his nation, told Amanpour.
“It’s one of those rather child-like situations that if you shut your eyes, if you don’t exhibit the tactile evidence of the missing humanity here, that somehow the problem will go away.”
It is not just “a Nigerian problem,” he said.
“I’m calling for the international community, the United Nations – this is a problem. This is a global problem. And a foothold is being very deeply entrenched in West Africa.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
They come in the night.
Armed militants take young children from their beds, as they sleep: Young recruits for extremist causes.
It happened this week in Nigeria, when heavily armed Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped 200 girls from their boarding school.
And it has been happening in northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and other neighboring countries for decades – the work of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour covered Kony’s sick work 16 years ago, for 60 Minutes, when she reported on the abduction of 139 girls from their school.
She spoke with their teacher, Sister Rachele Fassera, who begged for the children’s return.
“He bent down and on the ground he wrote, ‘The girls are 139. I will give you a 109.’ He wrote, ‘I keep 30,’ Sister Raquelle told Amanpour at the time.”
“I knelt in front of him,” she said. “And I said, please give me all the girls. He said, ‘No.’ [crying] Then they started, ‘Sister, they will rape us tonight. Sister, will you come back tonight?’”
“That was the last time I saw them.”
Christiane Amanpour speaks with CNN's Vladimir Duthiers in Lagos, Nigeria about a new anti-gay law.
By Mick Krever, CNN
In 2004, Bisi Alimi did an extraordinary thing.
He went on national television and told his fellow Nigerians that he was gay.
Alimi lived in a country not only where open discussion of sex and sexuality is considered déclassé, but where 98% of his fellow citizens now say they do not approve of homosexuality.
“There were so many things we don’t talk about,” Alimi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. “My career was on the line, I was going to be outed by the media.”
It was better, he decided, to come out of the closet on his own terms.
“I have a responsibility to stand up for the community, to give a face to the community, to demystify the old arguments that there are no homosexuals in Nigeria,” he said.
By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti
Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, is full of promise. But fulfilling that promise is often a struggle.
Plagued by corruption and mismanagement, the resource-rich country has a poverty rate of over 50%.
Maternal mortality is shockingly high and more than half of Nigerians don't have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the country’s finance minister and the former World Bank official has been lauded as the reformer Nigeria needs.
But she too isn't immune from Nigeria's problems – her own mother was kidnapped for a terrifying five days before being released.
President Goodluck Jonathan promised to address corruption in the country. Nevertheless, a former governor – an ally of Jonathan – has been convicted of embezzling million in public funds and has since been pardoned.
“Nigeria does have a problem with corruption and so do many other countries,” Okonjo-Iweala told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday. “I don’t like the fact that when people mention the name Nigeria the next thing they mention is corruption.” FULL POST
By Luck Gold & Samuel Burke, CNN
While American waited 35 minutes for the Super Bowl’s lights to come on, Nigerians just chuckled.
They know all too well the problem of power outages: Nigeria has been plagued by rolling blackouts that last hours, sometimes even days.
So as the television audience worldwide waited for the power to come back on, Nigerians took to social media with wit.
"Power outage at the Super Bowl on Sunday. Suddenly, Nigeria doesn't look as dark anymore,” tweeted one Nigerian.
"If they had the Super Bowl in Nigeria, the power coming back on would be the real surprise," another tweeted.
Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, recently told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that his country’s electrical woes have been improving.
“That is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government, that commitment to improve power. It's working,” President Jonathan told the president.
Many Nigerian viewers tweeted messages to Christiane Amanpour to express their continued frustrations about having to rely on back-up generators for power.
In the video above, you can watch an “Open Mic” series CNN conducted after Amanpour’s interview with President Jonathan. We left a microphone in a public place and recorded Nigerians expressing their frustrations with their notoriously unreliable power supply.