What will Nigeria’s presidential election mean for Christians?

By February 20, 2023
Nigeria flag

Nigeria (MNN) — The presidential election is heating up in Nigeria, and there is a lot at stake. The polls will open on Saturday, February 25. As the largest oil producer in Africa and one of the most economically influential, the new leader will have a significant impact beyond Nigeria.

Nigeria’s current President Muhammadu Buhari is finishing his last of two terms and will be stepping down in May. Although there are 18 candidates running for president, the frontrunners are considered Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

One of the major discussions surrounding the election is northern Nigeria’s growing insecurity and radical Muslim violence. Minority Christians in the north are often the target.

Greg Kelley with World Mission says, “The frustrating part of it, I think, when you look at it internally is that the government within Nigeria is not holding anyone accountable, so the atrocities continue. The people continue to suffer.”

(Photo courtesy of World Mission)

The two presidential candidate frontrunners are Muslim, and they both vow to defend religious freedom in Nigeria. Will anything improve for Nigeria’s Christians with new leadership? Time will tell.

For World Mission though, hope does not rest in political postures but in getting the Gospel to northern Nigeria.

Most ministries focus their efforts in southern Nigeria where it’s safer, and where there is also already a Christian majority. Kelley says, “There are major churches, what we would consider mega churches in the southern part of Nigeria with zero mission emphasis on taking the Gospel into the northern part.”

However, World Mission works with believers to reach the volatile northern region with solar-powered audio Bibles.

“The strategy becomes finding Muslim background believers who have come from the Kanuri and the Fulani and the Hausa who were formerly Muslim and who have had an encounter with Jesus. They’re the ones who are distributing our solar-powered audio Bible in literally dozens of different languages — sharing the Gospel in these places, in many instances, for the first time in history because there’s just not a missionary emphasis.”

(Photo courtesy of World Mission)

Pray for the Gospel to spread through northern Nigeria and changes the hearts of those who have committed radical violence.

Kelley says, “We need to pray for the maturity of the Body of Christ as it relates to Nigeria and some of these other African areas where there’s a refusal by the national leaders to take the Gospel where it’s not been.

“Then, those people that are doing it, we need to pray that God would continue to give them courage and boldness as they are taking the Gospel into the most hostile places you could imagine.”

You can also directly support this work by giving to World Mission here.






Header photo of Nigerian flag, courtesy of Emmanuel Ikwuegbu via Unsplash.

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