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.
By Samuel Burke, CNN
In her testimony to Congress on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited jihadist group Boko Haram as part of the broader Islamic militant threat in Africa.
Clinton said that the West-African group, whose name means "Western education is sinful" is a major threat to Nigeria – Africa’s largest oil exporter.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan agreed that Boko Haram could pose an existential threat to his country.
“If Boko Haram is not contained, it would be a threat not only to Nigeria, but to West Africa, Central Africa and of course to North Africa,” he said. “Elements of Boko Haram link up with some of al Qaeda in northern Mali and other North African countries.” FULL POST
By Tom Evans; Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.
(CNN) – Acting Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has told CNN he has not seen the country’s ailing leader Umaru Yar’Adua since he returned from Saudi Arabia in February after medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.
Jonathan also said he does not know the nature of Yar’Adua’s condition. President Yar’Adua has not been seen in public since last November.
“The thinking of the family is that they should insulate him from most of the key actors in government”, Jonathan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in his first interview with international or local media since he assumed office as acting president two months ago.
Asked if he would like to visit Yar’Adua, Jonathan said, “Yes, of course, but I will not want to force (it).”
He also dismissed suggestions that supporters of Yar’Adua are working against him. “I wouldn’t say they are trying to undermine me, because the laws of the land are very clear.”
Jonathan refused to say whether or not he is planning to run in Nigeria’s next presidential election in 2011.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following blog post was written by Nosarieme Garrick, 25 year old daughter of Nigerian government employees. She left Nigeria at a young age, and now seeks to promote activism within the Nigerian diaspora. This letter to Nigeria’s leaders is a personal appeal by her, and is not endorsed by CNN or its affiliates. “Amanpour” will pass this letter along to the Nigerian president’s office and we will post the government’s response as soon as we receive one.
Dear leaders of Nigeria,
I am a citizen of Nigeria holding a green card in the US. I left in 1998, after the death of Nigerian Dictator Sani Abacha, along with several others. After growing up in Nigeria, and watching others leave to pursue an education, it just seemed like the thing to do if you could afford it. Some entire families relocated to the UK, the US and other countries, other families sent their kids alone to foreign school, for a chance at a better education. Its now 2010, and some of us are itching to come back. I don’t think any of us were ever comfortable with the idea of abandoning our country.
I'm not sure how much longer I want to live abroad. After all, I would like my future kids to know where their mother's from, even possibly go to school there. However, all the brouhaha that has been stirred up in the news these past few months makes the country seem even more unappealing, than it was when it sent us in droves to foreign lands. I've kept in contact with some of the children in the Diaspora, and we've all discussed coming back home, but you keep giving us reasons to stay where we are. I hear you would like us to come back, but you've lost our faith, we don't believe in our government. Fear not, we are willing to work it out, it is our home, and so we’re ready to help you help us come back. Here are some suggestions of ways for you to make us consider the idea.
Our obvious reason for leaving was to get a better education, which is unfortunate because at Nigeria's independence we had the highest number of university graduates in Africa. The crumbling education system has contributed to the increased crime rate; being that our brothers and sisters back home, have very limited options. Maybe you could reconsider the budget cuts you made on education, and look into the proper training for teachers, in order for them to provide proper education for your children. This could be prepare them for a university education, or vocational training, not everyone needs or wants to go to university. Overseas we're taught that you can't get anywhere without a bachelor's degree, a lot of people have been the exception to the rule, but I'm glad I had the option to get a bachelor’s. Maybe we could provide that option for people back home by putting more money into the university system. Once we start to believe in our education in Nigeria, I doubt that people will feel the need to send their kids to the UK or the US for school.
You should think about consulting once more with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Remember, she used to be your former Minister of Finance? She’s now the Managing Director of the World Bank. According to The Punch Nigeria, she made this statement at the Institute of Directors conference in Lagos: ”One of the untapped growth drivers is Nigeria‘s youth. The time has come for us to focus on them and reap enormous development benefits or ignore them to the nation‘s peril.” See, she believes in our potential, don't let another country make use of us. Even Canada has been trying to lure us to their schools, they value our billions of dollars that we are ready to pay for a proper education. That money could go to Nigeria.
By Toms Evans; Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.
(CNN) - Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo insisted Wednesday that this week's explosion of violence that claimed at least 200 lives is not driven by religious tensions between Christians and Muslims - but by ethnic, social, and economic problems.
In Sunday's violence near the central city of Jos, Christian villagers said a mob armed with guns, knives and machetes killed and burned at will, leaving a trail of death and destruction. The attack came in the same area that 150 Muslims were killed in January.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Obasanjo said, "If you have one group or a community that has land that's been encroached upon by another community or even by itinerant cattle farmers, then the people who lay claim to the land will fight back."
"If there are job opportunities in an area, and persons believe they are indigenous to that area, and (are) not getting enough out of the jobs that are available, they will fight those who are getting the jobs," Obasanjo said.
Obasanjo said he's convinced the conflict in the oil-rich nation does not have religious roots, because Nigerian religious leaders have come together and deliberated on the problems in Jos, which lies on a faith-based fault-line between Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south.
By Tom Evans; Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.
Nigeria’s Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa today insisted there is no power vacuum after the country’s parliament voted to install Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting head of state – while President Umaru Yar’Adua is absent on medical leave.
“There has not actually been a power vacuum”, Aondoakaa told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “The main issue is that there must be ways of resolving our progress constitutionally. The system is working because nobody has taken up arms.”
Aondoakaa’s comments came on the same day Nigeria’s House and Senate approved a resolution to suspend President Yar’Adua, who went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment at the end of November and has been absent for nearly 80 days. He has not been seen in public since he left Nigeria.
Aondoakaa said the parliament’s resolution is non-binding. He said the Executive Council, made up of government ministers, has to look at the legislature’s proposal.
“What is important now is to move the country forward… for the three arms of government to come and support the Vice President to carry out his duties”, he added.