Violence Precedes April 16 Crucial Presidential Election in Nigeria
Only days away from Nigeria’s 2011 state and national elections on April 16, campaigning, and its accompanying violence, continue. At least one bomb blast near a ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) campaign rally, near the capital of Abuja, left at least 14 people dead. In the North, members of the radical Islamic sect, an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria, reportedly continued their rampage against the federal government, killing two police officers. Ethnic and religious violence also continue unabated near the city of Jos.
Since the end of military rule in 1999, the PDP candidate has won every presidential poll. By tradition, the PDP alternated power between north and south after serving two terms in office. But this pattern was interrupted when President Umaru Yar’adua (a northerner) died before his first term had ended, elevating his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (a southerner) to the seat of power.
“In the northern part of the nation, especially the 12 sharia states (under Islamic law), most of the Muslims are against Goodluck Jonathan’s candidature,” an Open Doors co-worker explained. “They look at it based on religion, not on what he can deliver.” Jonathan’s defeat of a Muslim PDP opponent at the primaries displeased most of the Muslim umma (community). “Therefore, they are now scheming to ensure that a Muslim will be the winner, at all costs. There will be implications for the church should the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate Buhari win the election,” the Open Doors co-worker continued. “During a previous election campaign, Buhari categorically stated that a Muslim should never vote for a non-Muslim, and if voted into power, he would uphold the religion of Allah.”
The possibility of instability in the country during and after the polls remains high, especially for the church. Speculations are rife that weapons are being smuggled into the country with the aim of causing havoc during the polls or the aftermath. “But once there is a crisis, whatever the cause may be, Nigerian Muslims will vent their anger on the church,” the OD co-worker predicted. “Particularly in Jos, the election needs constant prayer. In this predominantly Christian area, the election will most probably go smoothly but there is a military presence in most of the volatile spots. And with the election around the corner, more patrol vans have been given to the soldiers to ensure adequate security.”
Father, as the election in Nigeria approaches, we pray for peace and stability. Bring about an election that places a godly man in this powerful position, one who will rule justly and fairly for all, no matter what their religious convictions. We call on you to override the plans of people importing weapons for destabilizing the election and attacking Christians there. Give wisdom and discernment to the Open Doors staff in Jos that the election there will be a model for justice.
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