As Nigeria announces the re-election of Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Christians are hoping for long-awaited improvements in their security, which previous governments failed to provide.
Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy at Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: "Northern Nigeria’s instability spiralled during President Muhammadu Buhari’s last term in office. Although he has claimed victory in this month’s elections, it is telling that he lost in states like Plateau, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, where Christians have been subjected to horrifying violence in recent years. It is vital that President Buhari uses this new opportunity to robustly address both the Boko Haram insurgency – which he has repeatedly promised to eradicate, to no avail – and the violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers – which is out of control and becoming increasingly religiously motivated."
The elections in Nigeria have highlighted a long-term crisis in which many Christians have had to flee their homes for temporary camps under threat of violent attacks. Could you give £64 today to provide an emergency relief pack for a displaced Christian in northern Nigeria? This help could include emergency food, clothing and blankets.
A 'POLITICAL MISCALCULATION'
As the electoral campaign reopened last week after the elections had been postponed, a coalition of groups urged the presidential candidates not to begin any campaign without addressing the coalition on the future of Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, held captive by Boko Haram since February last year.
The members of the Coalition for Leah wanted to know what steps the candidates were going to take in order to secure Leah’s and the remaining Chibok girls’ release.
Not talking publicly about their commitment to free Leah and the other girls was called a 'political miscalculation' by the Coalition.
Leah was abducted along with over 100 of her classmates by Boko Haram on 19 February 2018 from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Nigeria’s north-eastern town of Dapchi, in Yobe state. While others were released within a month, Leah, the only Christian in the group, remains in captivity.
In October 2018, for the first time since Leah’s capture, President Buhari addressed Leah’s mother via Twitter: "Today I spoke with Mrs Rebecca Sharibu, to reiterate our determination to bring her daughter Leah back home safely. The thoughts & prayers of all Nigerians are with the Sharibu family, & the families of all those still in captivity. We will do everything we can to bring them back."
On the first anniversary of her abduction, Leah’s family and community members met at her home in order to show their solidarity to her parents. They urged the president to pay whatever Boko Haram is requesting in exchange for Leah.
Open Doors has been in regular contact with Leah's family and is offering them both practical and emotional support.
Last October, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, announced it will keep Leah Sharibu as a slave for life along with Alice Ngaddah, a Christian mother of two who works for Unicef. "From today," ISWAP said, "Sharibu, 15, and Ngaddah are now our slaves. Based on our doctrines, it is now lawful for us to do whatever we want to do with them."
Nigeria is number 12 on the 2019 World Watch List, Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Open Doors partners with the local church to strengthen and equip persecuted Christians in northern Nigeria through training, education for children, care and discipleship training for new Christians, community development projects, legal assistance, emergency relief and trauma counselling.
SUPPORT YOUR PERSECUTED CHURCH FAMILY IN NIGERIA
A long term crisis continues for the Christians who have been forced to flee their homes and now live dependent on aid from Open Doors. The government offers no aid to these Christians who are living in temporary camps. Thanks to your support, Open Doors can provide emergency relief such as vital food, clothing and blankets to Christians who’ve left their homes because of the violence. Could you give £64 today to provide an emergency relief pack for a displaced Christian in northern Nigeria? This help could include emergency food, clothing and blankets.
- For God's peace to fill and surround our Nigerian brothers and sisters
- For Buhari as he resumes his leadership of the country, that he would become more and more compassionate to the plight of Christians in Nigeria.