TAP interviewed a young woman from Enugu State who lived in Borno for close to a decade, and worked as a teacher in Borno State for three years. She has now returned to Enugu after having experienced wave after wave of violence in her neighbourhood. She talks to TAP about how she escaped an attack on her neighbourhood and hastily returned to her home state, the debilitating impact of the violence on her family’s livelihood. The bureaucratic hurdles that have hindered government’s reappointment of her to a school in Enugu State give insight into the situation facing many civil servants who have to leave violence-affected states to resettle elsewhere in the country.
Thank you for agreeing to speak with me about your experience. I have just a few questions for you. How long were you a teacher in Borno?
I worked with the school about 3 years. I got appointment with this school in early 2011.
What made you leave Borno?
It was this BH crisis. I couldn’t stay with the family, I have a family.
The day that you left, can you tell us what happened? Even in 2011, there was some violence going on. What made you carry your bags?
I’m not the kind of person that can stay where there is no peace. In 2008, I slept in the kitchen, this is after I had one of my babies. Where we live was in an area near the churches where they call Jerusalem. The first time they started [the attacks], they would always come to attack the churches around us. That was one of things that made us leave. They would always come when there is a night vigil. We left [this house] in 2009-2010. Early 2011, the violence was too much. We were there until 2013, then came back home.
You had mentioned before a specific incident that happened.
The one near my house?
[My children and I] came back from school, and we started hearing guns. I heard people shouting everywhere. I jumped from the bed, and I heard them say “kill them! shoot them!” we saw those children that people call almajri. They surrounded us. I don’t know how we escaped, but we did through a small gate by our house, and the soldiers helped us. By then, they had put soldiers near the churches, and the area where we lived had lots of Christians. The soldiers helped us leave that area. When we left, I couldn’t come back to my house that day. The following day, from there…. even my husband from the market, he met me where we were staying. From there he put us inside a bus. He didn’t follow us immediately, though.
Your husband was also working in Borno as well?
Yes, he’s a businessman.
What about your students? Did you lose any of your students?
No, but one my pupils lost her parents.
Was there a large population that came from the South?
I know one from the East, but they have transferred her from there. I heard that they had killed one of the teachers.
Was there a large amount of teachers from other places?
We were about three in primary school, but four in the secondary school. They’ve all left now.
From the Borno State Govt, was there any effort from them to better secure the schools that you know of, or was there no improvement?
They tried their best. They did all they can do. I don’t blame them at all.
You’ve been resettling back to Enugu with the help of the state govt. How are they helping you? Even the other teachers who came back?
It’s God that would help me. We had a comfortable life in the north. My whole life, I have never seen such suffering as now, I tell you. (inaudible, sobs)
People have been helping us, but nothing from the state government. For people to stop everything they are doing and go to another place without anything… I came back with three children. It’s been more than one year and my children can’t start school.
This is really terrible, I’m really sorry. You’re so strong for being able to live through this and come back home and build your life again.
I’m the last child in my father’s house. Honestly, they’ve been helping me. Before, I was the one that was sending everything, because of how my family is, but since we got back now [my family members] are using their last Naira to help me.
They’ve stopped paying me. Three months after we got back, the government stopped paying me.
I’m a woman of 34 years, and I already have high blood pressure. I’ve never had BP, but this suffering has caused it. Now the government is telling me to go back [to Borno]. The government has given me an approval letter [for transfer my appointment] but they’re telling me to go to Maiduguri first, but I don’t know what they want me to do in Maiduguri. If they want to help me, they should re-employ us here. I believe that God will help me.