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Nigeria goes to the polls on February 25 to elect a new president, amid warnings that the country could be heading for break up and disintegration that would lead to humanitarian crisis.
Rising violence and insecurity are the number one challenge facing the new president of Africa’s most populous nation.
Violence against Nigeria’s Christian community in the north and central regions has grown to such a pitch that insecurity is now the number one challenge facing the country, warn partners of Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world.
They fear that unless the country’s new president takes decisive action to prevent the escalating violence, many Nigerians could be forced to flee, prompting a wave of refugees that would impact not only the region but the world.
The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, the Most Reverend Benjamin Kwashi, a partner of Release International warns: ‘Christians are going to leave this country. They’re going to leave in droves. Christians are going to run to anywhere in the world, but Nigeria. They will not wait for the persecution that will happen.’
Successive reports state more Christians are killed each year for their faith in Nigeria than in the rest of the world put together. And the violence, instigated by Islamist terror groups, Fulani militants and kidnap gangs is growing.
Says Archbishop Kwashi: ‘I’ve done far more funerals in the last 20 years than naming ceremonies or weddings put together. I’m a grieving pastor. So, this is my message to whoever is going to lead this country after the coming election. The first and foremost priority, before God and humanity, is to try and secure the lives of poor people being killed by terrorists.
‘The test of any leadership is how it cares for and supports its poor. Any leadership that cannot care for the poor, is not worthy of that position, not by God, nor by man.’
While terror groups are fighting to establish a caliphate in the North, there is a growing movement for secession in the South, where ethnic groups consider themselves disenfranchised and underrepresented in government.