Bishops call on Nigerians to ‘reject evil’ in elections
AS AFRICA’S MOST POPULOUS COUNTRY CONTINUES TO FACE A NUMBER OF CHALLENGES AND THREATS, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will be dedicating its Lent campaign to Nigeria.
The Nigerian bishops have called on the population to come out “en masse” on February 25 to vote in the country’s presidential and general election.
In a statement released on February 17, following a meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the prelates appealed to Nigerians to “reject evil, greater or lesser, and wisely choose good and capable candidates at all levels.”
“Our votes are precious; we must use them well. We encourage all eligible citizens to come out en masse to vote for God-fearing, honest, vibrant, and transparent leaders for a better Nigeria,” the bishops state.
The document goes on to enumerate several of the challenges facing the nation of Nigeria, including “Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen militia, bandits, and the so-called unknown gunmen” who “have continued to unleash terror in different parts of the country.”
“Some communities have been sacked and their inhabitants displaced as a result of the activities of some criminals and some government security agents. Hundreds of lives have been lost in very brutal circumstances and many more people have been maimed. Some of our Church personnel have been victims of abduction and killing. Kidnapping for ransom is on the increase so nowhere seems safe. Highways, homes, and even the sacred precincts of worshipping centers are not spared.”
ACN will be dedicating this year’s Lent campaign to the situation faced by Christians in Nigeria. The international organization will be shining a spotlight on the plight of Christians in Africa’s most populous country.
Together with the bishops whose dioceses are most affected by the violence, ACN has created a program to strengthen the local Church in Nigeria. The pontifical charity has committed $5.3M for this program – which features five specific dimensions:
i) Keeping our project partners Safe
ii) Building peace through interreligious dialogue and formation
iii) Caring for the victims of violence
iv) Strengthening the Church in its outreach
v) Supporting prayer for peace, healing and forgiveness
The situation in Nigeria is very complex, as factors of violence often overlap. For example, the issue of conflicts over land is as old as human society, but there is fear that it has been exacerbated by religious radicalization. For this reason and to better understand the situation of Nigeria, ACN has prepared two documents to be distributed among benefactors, journalists, and other interested people.
The first one, “Nigeria at the crossroads,” is a thorough 40-page country report, that gives a general overview of the situation and explains in detail how many factors affect the nation. It provides comprehensive ethnic, religious, geographical, political, and historical background information, as well as mapping the existing situations of tension and conflict in Nigeria.
The second document, “Nigeria: a bleeding wound,” consists of 26 first-hand witnesses and testimonies of religious persecution, including victims of Boko Haram, Fulani herder attacks, kidnappings, and attacks on churches, such as the tragic Pentecost Sunday massacre which occurred last year.
The documents are available in English and Spanish, coming soon. Anybody interested in obtaining these documents, free of charge, can contact ACNUSA by writing to email@example.com
—Filipe d’Avillez & Maria Lozano