Wednesday, March 23, 2011

100. Nigeria: the elections and the battle for Jos

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 100 | Wed 23 Mar 2011

NIGERIA: THE ELECTIONS AND THE BATTLE FOR JOS

By Elizabeth Kendal

Nigerians will go to polls three times during April 2011: 2 April to elect their National Assembly (parliament); 9 April to elect their President; 16 April to elect State Assemblies and governors. The leading candidates are the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan (People's Democratic Party), Ibrahim Shekarau (All Nigeria Peoples Party), Muhammadu Buhari (Congress for Progressive Change) and Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria). Inaugurated as Vice President in 2007, Jonathan (a Southern Christian) took up the presidency in February 2010 when President Yar'Adua (a Northern Muslim) resigned suffering terminal illness. Jonathan, the front-runner, is favoured to win. Shekarau, the governor of the Northern Sharia State of Kano, will campaign on the usual conservative Islamic platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Former military dictator Gen. Buhari, another Northern Muslim, was the ANPP's unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2003 and 2007. Ribadu, a Southern Muslim and anti-corruption crusader, is running on a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Some stakeholders in the North are agitating for a strategic alliance between Buhari, Shekarau and Ribadu as the only way to rout Jonathan. Political violence is escalating.

Nowhere will poll results be contested more fiercely than in flashpoint Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt. In1991 military dictator General Babangida, a Northern Muslim, decreed that Jos be divided into two smaller administrative units: Jos North and Jos South, with the actual city / CBD going to the Hausa Muslim 'settler' dominated Jos North. It is generally believed Babangida created Jos North specifically to empower the growing Hausa Muslim community. The battle for Jos has intensified over the past two decades, with attacks on the Christian community escalating markedly. Tensions are soaring in advance of the elections. On 11 March Special Task Force officers seized a truck laden with ammunition and sophisticated bomb-making equipment as it crossed from Kaduna into Plateau bound for Jos. Investigations are under way.

On Sunday morning 20 March two Hausa Muslim would-be bombers died when three of the bombs they were transporting exploded en route. The massive blast occurred at Dualla junction in Nasarawa, Jos North Local Government Area, destroying shops and rocking the nearby ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) and COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) churches which are known now were the intended targets. The regional headquarters of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) was also targeted, only that bomb failed to detonate and was removed by the bomb squad.

The Dualla junction explosion disrupted a Hausa service and an English service and sent worshippers fleeing in panic. Doubtless the Hausa service was comprised of mostly converts from Islam, whilst the English service was probably mainly ethnic-religious minority Christians. Two others died in the subsequent chaos. As analysts universally note, the battle for Jos is between 'indigenes' and 'settlers'. However, it cannot be denied that the battle is exacerbated by the settlers' increasingly fundamentalist, intolerant Islam, which demands they resist assimilation (because they are 'superior') while pursuing political domination and territorial expansion.

For further background see: Why is Jos such a tinderbox - Religious Liberty Monitoring.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* deliver his people from those who are conspiring violence against them; may the wicked fall into their own nets (Psalm 141:9,10).

* raise up political and community leaders of great wisdom and immense courage, so that intolerant, fundamentalist Islam might not only be stopped in its tracks but actively rolled back so that all Nigerians might enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious liberty.

* abundantly provide for and bless all the mission organisations and ministries taking the gospel to Muslims across Northern Nigeria; may the Spirit of God breathe life and power into a new generation of prayer warriors and missionaries committed to minister to the Muslims of hostile, predominantly Muslim, Northern Nigeria.

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NIGERIA'S ELECTIONS AND THE BATTLE FOR JOS

The outcome of Nigeria's polls in April will be contested no more fiercely than in flashpoint Jos in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt. On Sunday morning 20 March two Hausa Muslim would-be bombers perished when three bombs they were transporting exploded prematurely. The bombs were destined for churches in Hausa Muslim dominated Jos North. Both the ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) and nearby COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) churches were rocked by the massive explosion. A bomb planted at another church failed to detonate. The battle for Jos is heating up as Hausa Muslim immigrant 'settlers' pursue political domination, with attacks against the indigenous Christians escalating markedly. Please pray for wise and courageous political and community leaders to roll back fundamentalist Islam so that all Nigerians might enjoy religious liberty.