Politics

Nigerian Christians may back a Muslim candidate in upcoming presidential elections

Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari gestures to supporters as he arrives to cast his ballot at Daura, in Katsina state in northern Nigeria, on April 16, 2011. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-NIGERIA-MUSLIM, originally transmitted on May 27, 2015.
Nigerian Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, gestures to supporters as he arrives to cast his ballot at Daura, in Katsina state in northern Nigeria, on April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-NIGERIA-ELECTION, originally transmitted on March 24, 2015.

Muhammadu Buhari gestures to supporters in Daura, in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina, as he arrives to cast his ballot in the 2011 election, when he also ran for the presidency. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-NIGERIA-ELECTION, originally transmitted on March 24, 2015.

(RNS) Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday (March 28) to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country’s stability and economic progress.

In a twist that might have been difficult to predict, many Christians in Nigeria’s north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Some Nigerians fear that another term for Jonathan would mean institutionalization of corruption and emergence of more Muslim extremist groups in addition to Boko Haram. And they are willing to pin their hopes on a Muslim candidate.

In February, the Northern Christian Leaders’ Eagle-Eyes Forum endorsed Buhari, saying the country needs a leader who can protect both Christians and Muslims. The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have not formally endorsed a candidate but appear to lean that way as well.

“The bishops see him as a man of integrity and decency who can fight corruption and Boko Haram,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic Diocese.

Buhari may have helped his chances among Christians by choosing a church pastor as his running mate. Yemi Osinbajo, a senior pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God and a former attorney general of the state of Lagos, is from the country’s south, where Christians are the majority and where Jonathan has traditionally had most support.

Buhari, who previously led Nigeria from December 1983 to August 1985 after taking power in a coup, has assured Christians that he has no religious agenda.

Jonathan, meanwhile, faces criticisms of failing to stop the Islamic extremists. Under his watch, Nigerian troops had appeared unable to tackle the militant Boko Haram, which has now allied itself with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Recently, the military, helped by armies from Cameroon, Chad and Niger, has been able to take back some towns previously captured by Boko Haram.

Religious leaders fear a repeat of the post-election violence of 2011, when hundreds of churches were torched and hundreds of Christians killed after Jonathan was declared the winner.

In Nairobi, an official at the All Africa Conference of Churches urged Jonathan and Buhari to show leadership “at this critical juncture in their country.”

“They must urge supporters to remain calm and refrain violence during the elections,” said Solomon Gichira, who is dealing with peace issues at the Africa-wide Protestant grouping.

Meanwhile, church sources say people are returning to their homes in northern Nigeria as the Multinational Joint Task Force, which is confronting Boko Haram, liberates areas from the extremists.

YS/MG END NZWILI

About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

15 Comments

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  • The muslims say Jesus was just a prophet but that doesn’t make sense cause
    no true prophet can be revered if they are a liar so either Jesus was a liar or
    He was who He says He is which is the Messiah and the only way to heaven!

  • Well Michelle who wrote the Bible ? was it Jesus in his life ? It was Paul decades after passing away of Jesus. The message of Jesus was not recorded, it was just word of mouth and Paul was not one of his apostle what Paul wrote is what he gets from chain of people as word of mouth, Plus Paul has his own motives to narrate the story as he wants, he make changes in the actual message. Its not like Quran which is writing and authenticated by Prophet Mohammed in his life. Even in Paul’s bible Jeusu claim he is a man and not god in many places. Its not Jeusu or Mohammed’s way, its they way and message of ONE TRUE GOD whom we call Allah, the creator of Jesus and Mohammed. Who has send his final message to prophet Mohammed and written in Quran is the only way to heaven for all human beings.

  • Adil-Thank you for the feedback but as I said people who say Jesus was
    just a prophet don’t make sense plus the Bible was inspired by God and
    holds up cause of prophecy accuracy like Psalm 22:16-18/Isaiah 53:3-7.
    You should read Jesus among other gods by Ravi Zacharias. God bless.

  • With all due respect,Adil,you have not the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

  • As to the comment above that Koran was written by mohammed. It’s true that the koran was written by mohammed, thru a revelation via “Gabriel”.
    After God made His direct revelation to mankind through the many prophets and authors of the Bible, it sure sounds believable that God sent “Gabriel” to make counterclaims through Koran.
    It’s also believable that God waited till ~630 A.D to make these counterclaims and had to use an intermediary this time.

  • Adil is discussing the articles of his faith as Michelle is giving hers. Neither of them are worth a bucket of chum in the fact department.

  • Claims and counterclaims cannot be made by the same entity. The counterclaims are made by the opposing entity.
    If the original claim was made by God, then the counterclaim that came later comes from Satan.

    Lucifer was clearly mistaken for Gabriel.

  • Adil,

    Mohammad was a hermit living in a cave. He couldn’t even write. So, the Koran wasn’t even written by him. Even Muslims teach that. And of course Mohammad couldn’t even lay enough foundation for who preceded him as leader. And of course, the only consistent thing about Mohammad is his war on everyone and everything that isn’t going to fall at the feet of his invention.

    Paul only wrote what Paul wrote. Many others wrote information and facts about Jesus that was necessary to combat false teachings and heresy. The New Testament wasn’t written to form a new religion, it was written to define what following Jesus is all about.

    Be careful how you throw your religious stones. Allah and Mohammad live in a very thin theological glass house.

  • @William,

    Mohammad DID NOT WRITE the Koran.

    He dictated it to another guy.

    Mohammad, or rather, the angel Gabriel, got a few extremely crucial things WRONG.

    But then again, Mohammad just reinvented and had rewritten (he couldn’t write) what contradicted his so-called revelation.

    But be that as it may, Nigeria should have the right to run its own country they way a republican democracy sees fit. If Muslims can get along with others without murdering them and enslaving them, and allowing them to choose NOT to be a Muslim . . . GOOD!

  • @Tim Grank

    We need to get Muslims to the point where they allow others to refuse Islam without that being a death sentence. Or a decision to be enslaved.

    That needs to be a goal for everyone on this planet.

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