Debate on the situation in Nigeria

Marietje
Mr President, last year I was an election observer in Nigeria. The hope and anticipation among Nigerians was remarkable. They welcomed observers; anything that could ensure their vote would count and be counted transparently. On the night before the first round, an explosion close to Abuja killed 25 people preparing for the elections – most of them youngsters, serving their year in the National Youth Service Corps, sons and daughters of Nigeria. Violent extremism kills indiscriminately and, combined with poverty, corruption and related problems, it does not take much imagination to picture how the extremists would achieve their goal to destabilise the country, to pit people of different religions against each other and to recruit those without perspective. Nigeria is home to one fifth of Africans. It is a leading nation in West Africa, for better or worse. Half of the population – 75 million people – are under 18 years of age. They will demand the opportunities they deserve. Many of the youngsters know more about the world than their parents did, through media and new media, including the fact that not everyone is poor and that it is not necessary to be poor in such a rich country. The young generation filmed the vote count of the elections on their cell phones and they will hold the authorities accountable. I would not be surprised at a Nigerian Spring one day. We must invest in this young generation and do what we can to give them education and opportunities. An important prevention for being recruited by extremist networks is such independence economically. Nigeria is rich – I emphasise it again – in resources and in human capital. The EU stands ready to help to ensure more equal benefit from wealth and more equal distribution and good governance and to prevent and end the terrorism in a sustainable way.