President Buhari of Nigeria Inaugurated—Peace Prevails
Muhammadu Buhari, the first opposition leader to win an election in Nigeria, was sworn in on May 29 as Nigeria’s new President after defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in the March election.
On Sunday, May 24, prior to the official ceremony, thousands of Christians gathered to celebrate the peaceful outcome of the election. The worshippers gathered at three locations in Jos—the capital of central Plateau State, which has a long history of religious violence—with the backing of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The previous three elections were followed by widespread violence across the country. More than 800 people lost their lives after the 2011 election. Christians paid a heavy price, with hundreds of places of worship and other properties destroyed by rioters.
Ahead of this year’s election, hundreds of people, fearful of post-election violence in the country’s restive central and northern states, returned to their hometowns. “We were all filled with fear and anxiety about the unity of this country and the uncontrollable violence that could be unleashed as a result of the elections. Many had predicted the destabilization of the country through war, violence and anarchy,” said Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, in his address to the meeting. “Happily, God made things turn out differently.”
In Plateau State in central Nigeria, various events intended to preempt violence were staged in the run-up to the election. An “undertaking for peace” was even signed by the gubernatorial candidates at the request of Christian Association of Nigeria leadership.
As the election results were about to be announced, the incumbent, Jonathan, called his main challenger, Buhari, to congratulate him—an act that Kaigama called, “‘The Miracle of March 31,’ when God’s will was allowed to prevail rather than resorting to prolonged legal war or violence.”
“Today, we gather here to praise and honor God for answering our prayers for peaceful elections in Nigeria,” he said during the May 24 celebration. “What we are doing here is handing to God our State, our country and our leaders to His blessings.
“It is not a time of triumphant jubilation; it is not about who won and who lost; it is rather a time for sober reflection, prayers and seeking God’s mercy—to move away from the politics of hatred, religion and tribe, to the politics of social development and harmony.”
Similar thoughts were expressed by the Christian Association of Nigeria chairman in Plateau State. “As we approach the May 29 handing over, I want to remind you of what is important now that the election is something of the past,” said Rev. Soja Bewarang, in his address. “Now, it is time to set a [God]-driven and friendly agenda for our leaders. It is no time to sit on the fence. It is not time for passive compliance. It is time for active obedience. It is time for responsibility.”
Buhari inherits a very difficult social and economic situation throughout much of Nigeria. The falling oil prices have heavily impacted the economy in Nigeria, the biggest oil producer in Africa. In Nigeria’s major cities, long lines form at gas stations. Fuel scarcity has also dramatically impacted the cost of living, particularly among Nigeria’s poorest citizens. Electricity is now only available intermittently.
Buhari, who gained a majority of the youth vote, must now confront expectations that he can ease record-high joblessness among the young.
The new President also faces the challenges of endemic government corruption and the Islamist insurgency led by Boko Haram, which has claimed 15,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people. Despite recent territorial gains by the military, the situation remains highly volatile in northeastern Nigeria, as the militants continue their deadly rampages.
At least 43 people were reportedly killed on May 23 during an attack on Gubio, a community in Nigeria’s northeast Borno State. More than 500 houses were burned, and many vehicles and motorcycles were set ablaze.
The situation is also becoming increasingly volatile in central Nigeria, as evidenced by an apparent major massacre that took place on May 24 in Benue State. Local media reported that more than 100 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
In his victory speech, Buhari made the defeat of Boko Haram a central focus of his government. “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas,” he said. “We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father God, we know from Your Word that, “all things work together for good for those who are called according to Your purpose.” Perhaps we would have liked to see President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, re-elected. But we look with hope toward the working out of your purposes through President Buhari. Thank You for the testimony of peace President Jonathan and the Christian community have exhibited as they submitted to Your will following the election. We pray that You will use this testimony to draw many to turn to You in faith. We pray for an end to the power of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the resulting economic instability. We pray that Your Name will be glorified in this nation. In the Name of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Amen.