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Nigeria's Christians fearful of violence as presidential election approaches

February 06, 2015

Nigeria’s Christians worry about the prospects of violence as the country prepares for presidential elections on February 14.

“We want to hold free and fair elections without violence,” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos told Aid to the Church in Need. “We want democracy, good government policies and that militant Islamist groups change their attitude.”

The Nigerian presidential election, which pits a Christian incumbent against a Muslim challenger, has contributed to religious tensions in a country whose population is almost equally divided between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian south. Those tensions have been greatly exacerbated by the violence of the Boko Haram terrorist group, which the government has failed to curb.

Archbishop Kaigama said that the advance of Boko Haram now endangers neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. Moreover, he observed, if the violence spreads, a flood of refugees could engulf Cameroon and Ghana. He said Nigeria—Africa’s most populous nation, with 170 million people—will be setting the stage for the region’s future.

President Jonathan Goodluck, whose government has been accused of widespread corruption, faces a challenge from Muhammadu Buhari in a repeat of the 2011 presidential contest. After that election, Buhari charged Goodluck’s supporters with rigging the vote, and angry Muslims attacked Christians, leaving 800 people dead.


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