Nigerian independence marred by mass murder
10/4/2012, 5:14 p.m.
Oct. 2 (GIN)--Nineteen students, a security guard and a yet unknown number of other residents of the Federal Polytechnic in Mubi, northeastern Nigeria, perished in a brutal massacre on the school campus, coincidentally days away from Nigerian Independence Day, Oct. 1.
The killings shocked even the hardest of Nigerian citizens. The gunmen apparently knew their victims, calling out their names before firing. Authorities suspect two feuding groups of students, saying it does not appear to be the work of the insurgent Boko Haram fundamentalists.
Rivalries over student elections have turned violent before, but have never reached this level, says the BBC's Nigeria correspondent Will Ross.
Just one day before, an Independence Day speech broadcast to the nation by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, noted "joy and hope" brought by the founding fathers after the country made a clean break from colonial rule 52 years ago.
He mentioned the country's 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups. "In 1960, our diversity became a source of strength. [Our new leaders] had their differences, but they placed a greater premium on the need to come together to build a new nation."
But he slipped when he credited the nation with progress in eliminating corruption. He said the watchdog Transparency International had rated Nigeria as the second-most-improved country in the fight against corruption, when in fact, TI puts Nigeria almost at the bottom of the list of "clean" countries.
Meanwhile, a pro-labor and rights advocacy group has called on Nigerians to prepare for a mass protest over the recent hike in fuel prices. "Filling stations sell above the official prices and yet none have been shut," the group said in a statement.
"There is a very tiny group of Nigerians who have cornered the wealth that belongs to the working people and the poor, who are in the majority. They loot the treasury and use their stolen wealth to sustain themselves in power through their political parties," they wrote. "We want to change that system."