Delays, tensions provoke an already tense Nigeria

By March 31, 2015
(Map courtesy Wikipedia)

(Map courtesy Wikipedia)

Nigeria (MNN) — Vote counting got under way in Nigeria on Monday in an election fraught with delays, glitches, and violence.

Voting spilled over from Saturday into Sunday due to faulty scanners, absent poll workers, and Boko Haram militant attacks. A winner must secure both a majority and 25% of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s states.

Muhammadu Buhari–a retired general and former military dictator, a Muslim from the North–developed a commanding lead over President Goodluck Jonathan–the Christian incumbent from the South. Both candidates have pledged to respect the results, if they are deemed credible.

Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says results were promised within 48 hours, which means early results are expected on Tuesday, local time. However, “In 2011 when there were national elections, after the results were announced, after the southern Christian candidate had won, there was mass violence in the North. Hundreds of people were killed.”

(Stock photo burned church courtesy Flickr/CC/MikeBluth)

(Stock photo burned church courtesy Flickr/CC/MikeBluth)

Right now, there’s an uneasy peace. Both candidates are encouraging their followers to wait patiently for the results.   What happens after that looms dangerously. “If the people who lose an election trust that the process was fair and that they legitimately lost, it is another thing in a country that has been racked with corruption. If you think that the election was stolen from you, you obviously respond in a different way.”

Boko Haram violence forced the delay of the original election by six weeks. Aside from an attack in Bauchi, little else was heard, although security measures were ready for anything. Nettleton thinks it could be a calculated political move on the part of the Muslim extremists. “They obviously would like to see a Muslim president of Nigeria. Perhaps they recognize that if they were violent and disruptive in the North, which is where their power base is, it would cost Muslim votes for president.”

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

In the meantime, Christians throughout Nigeria are on their knees. “They are praying for peace, and I think we can join with them in that prayer,” says Nettleton. “This transition is a crucial one. The hours and days after the results are announced are crucial hours and days.”

Pray for a smooth transition. How the Church responds to the challenges presented by those who are most hostile to the hope of Christ speaks volumes. That’s especially true in light of the 2011 results, where anyone who was not Muslim became a target. To respond with peace when they face violence really is a supernatural God-given gift, adds Nettleton. “That can be a great way of planting seeds because there is really not a human explanation for that. There’s only the divine explanation that somehow God is empowering these people to response with love when they face hatred.”


  • As a missionary in southern Niger, bordering the most Muslim parts of northern Nigeria, the northern church has suffered a great deal under a southern Christian president because keeping peace and security in the north wasn’t his priority. Many Christians in the border area want to see extremists dealt with and they believe a past Muslim military leader is better positioned to do this than the current president. Remember, Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians, but their presence has made it difficult for churches in the north to operate openly.

  • Thomas,
    Thank you for your valuable insight as someone on the front lines in Niger. It is really helpful for us here to hear another side of things. Before I read your post I couldn’t imagine how a former Muslim dictator from the North could be anything positive in this country.

    Praying for you in your work for the Kingdom,

  • Thanks Teresa. There are lots of examples in the Bible where God’s people prospered under “just” rule, even when it came from outside the faith.

  • I thank you along with Teresa. It is next to impossible to untangle all the details – not understanding the big picture. I was aware that God uses who He chooses to carry out His will and the Christian leader has been ineffective. I could only pray that the man of god’s choosing would win the election fairly.
    Thank you again Tom.

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