The kidnapping of over 300 girls by the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram has, after two weeks of audio silence from global media, made us all sit up and take note of the pitiable conditions and unbelievable discrimination rampant in the North African country. Nigeria, currently the richest African nation by GDP, is home to stark inequalities, with unimaginably high rates of unemployment, education and poverty, especially in its northern provinces. Boko Haram, the fanatic group that wages its lethal campaign against ‘western education’ and goes about killing people indiscriminately, is a symptom of the deeper malaise that plagues Nigeria, which the shiny and experimental high-rises of Abuja, the capital city, try to brush under the thick carpet of official callousness and public apathy. The north-south division in Nigeria couldn’t be more obvious, with the south enjoying the benefits of a more liberal setup, reveling in the excesses of petrodollars extracted from the northern oil beds ironically, while the neglected north becomes a bastion of militias of which Boko Haram is just one. The reasons why the extremists thrive in these desert stretches of Nigeria are several – chiefly, climate change and the resultant drought, famine which have pushed starving refugees from neighbouring regions into these ungovernable swathes, turning them into nomadic terrorists preying on the locals. In addition to desertification, water shortages and mounting crop failures, northern Nigeria has become the cauldron of poor state intervention, with uneducated former herdsmen turning into obscurantist henchmen and causing regressive vigilantism to take a toll on those who are too poor to leave their villages. It is unfortunate that massacres and mass-kidnappings are the only way to garner international attention, even as people, particularly the women and children, pay the price of a socio-politically engineered barbarism.