Nigeria Election
Christian Persecution

Nigeria unites in the war against Boko Haram

This is a guest post by Katie Harrison – Tearfund‘s Head of Communications. Katie tweets at @KatieHarrisonTF

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Last year, I was working in Zambia, on a trip which involved long road journeys. (Tearfund trips often do. We tend to work in the kinds of places people don’t usually go to on holiday, so they’re not close to major transport links.)

Our local pastor guides were great; we had a lot of banter along the way. Our conversations veered from utter hilarity to a pseudo UK citizenship test, and sometimes both at the same time.

Having answered questions as wide-ranging as ‘So Katie, how is the Queen?’ to ‘Do you think the UK will ever join the euro?’, even my well-developed blagging skills were put to the test with this corker: ‘Why do you think Mrs Thatcher was so popular?’

Cue a lengthy discussion about the 1980s, itemising some of the many moments for which Mrs T is known and explaining why some people benefited and others didn’t. And then, suddenly remembering, I said: “But, to be fair, she did lead her party to win three general elections, so she did have some sort of mandate at least.”

To which our Zambian pastors nodded sympathetically and asked: “Did she rig them?”

NO SHE DID NOT!

A timely reminder, should we need one, of the privileged position in which we find ourselves.

Would that open democracy were the default position globally but, sadly, of course it’s not. It’s a luxury we often don’t fully appreciate.

As we’ve seen in Nigeria in the last few days.

One of the most developed economies in Africa, it’s still an extremely difficult electoral process for those of us in the UK to understand.

The logistics are challenging, and this year there has been the added complication of new machinery – they do thumb-reading now, to try to avoid duplication of votes or fraudulent presentation of IDs – which didn’t work in some stations so polling had to be extended for a further day.

And there’s a historic understanding that presidents will usually alternate between those from the mainly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south. So, electoral results which deliver anything different to this present a security challenge.

Added to which, this time, there’s been the huge complication of Boko Haram. The militant Islamists made their mark on the world almost a year ago – although they were already widely known and feared within Nigeria – when they abducted girls from a school in Chibok.

Despite international outcry, and all and sundry holding up hashtag placards #bringbackourgirls, the schoolgirls have still not yet been returned home.

The election was delayed by six weeks because Boko Haram massacres had decimated villages and made many areas impassable. It would have been impossible to include those communities in the electoral process during that time.

So, the Nigerian military and forces from neighbouring countries spent the last six weeks reclaiming those villages and freeing hundreds of people – mostly women and children; men are usually killed outright – from captivity.

People like the women I met two weeks ago who had been taken to a huge house and held there, being told they were preparing to be brides for Boko Haram but who suspected they were really going to be used as suicide bombers.

Or the pregnant woman who was abducted and bundled into a car, driven miles out of town and then, having appealed to his sympathy, managed to persuade her driver to allow her to run from the car. It appears he himself had been abducted and forced to act as a driver, and wasn’t committed to a life with Boko Haram.

And yet, in the midst of all this chaos, the elections have gone ahead.

More safely than usual, in fact, even though some people have been killed on the way to the polls. Usually, elections in this part of the world render a much higher death toll.

So far, they’ve been widely commended as the most credible the country has ever seen. And the call President Goodluck Jonathan made to concede to Buhari, quickly and graciously, was a pioneering move. Never before has a President of Nigeria left their post peacefully.

Widely hailed as a big moment not only for Nigeria, but for the whole of Africa, the dignity and maturity of the presidential candidates over the last few days is hopefully an indicator of a new season of democracy and freedom.

It’s too soon to tell for sure, and there will inevitably be repercussions in some parts of the country. Ingrained patterns of political behaviour will take time to break, but this remarkable act of leadership and grace in defeat will mean that Goodluck Jonathan is remembered positively.

Buhari must now turn his attention to the Boko Haram crisis. He has pledged to deal with it urgently. The pressure will be on for him to deliver; more than a million people are living in poverty and despair because of Boko Haram.

But hope remains, especially in the places of worship. Churches are among those offering their grounds and buildings for displaced people, and Christian organisations are reaching out to Muslims and Christians alike with practical help.

My colleague Danladi Musa, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Nigeria, sums it up: “We live in a beautiful proud country. This crisis is a terrible thing that has happened, and we are determined to serve our brothers and sisters who are struggling, and to build a country which is strong and free once more.”

  • Dreadnaught

    An interesting post… And the call President Goodluck Jonathan made to concede to Buhari, quickly and graciously, was a pioneering move.

    And when it comes Buhari’s time to vacate the chair? I don’t think there is anywhere in the world where a Muslim has relinquished his grip on power – they just don’t permit it, the mob will see to that. Democracy is Haram in Islam.

  • Athanasius

    Well the UK’s position regarding free elections is not quite as privileged as Mr Gillen suggests, at least not until the institutionally corrupt first past the post system is reformed.

  • Dominic Stockford

    It is sad that it took a forthcoming election for the ‘clearance’ of Boko Haram to take place. While it is clear that there are serious problems in the country, they could clearly have acted in this way before now, and for the benefit of their people.

    We really do need to pray for sincere Christians there – they don’t know whether today will be the day they are called to make the ultimate witness…

  • IanCad

    It is always heartening to read an upbeat editorial but I’m afraid reality has to interject.
    Buhari is the new lawfully elected president of Africa’s most populous country. It is a given that rulers reflect to a considerable degree the character of the people.
    Nigeria is a devilishly corrupt tribal conglomerate. A powder keg in fact.
    I most surely hope that I am wrong, but I fear this election will herald another round of blood letting – perhaps even another civil war.
    It must be remembered that – despite his recent seemingly benign statements – Major-General Buhari is a Muslim who in the recent past has agitated for Sharia law.
    He has of late presented a fair face; even professing religious toleration. A hard sell in a country almost equally divided between Christians and Muslims.
    The practices of Taqiyya and Kitman should not be discounted. The wealthy Christian southern sector is an object of envy to the Muslim North.
    Nigeria cannot continue as a single political unit.
    I do hope I am wrong.

    • CliveM

      I think your last couple of sentences are completely correct.

    • Phil R

      It needs to split. Muslim and Christian.

      If it works (Like Cyprus) then we have lessons to learn.

      • Inspector General

        That Boko filth does not respect borders…

        • Phil R

          But does not live on the same street as you

      • David

        Is that your prediction for our island too ? Just asking, like..

        • Phil R

          What. The remnants of the British in England retreating to Wales when the immigrants they invited turned on them?

          Nah that was 1500 years ago…….Nothing to learn there.

          • Inspector General

            How topical. A Welsh national socialist was in trouble on that just the other day…

          • Phil R

            Interesting. Do you remember who?

          • Inspector General

            BBC online news today. He accuses the English who come to live in Wales as racist escapees from multiculture.

          • Phil R

            A good many have given me exactly that reason.

            I would not call them racist. They just don’t like what their part of England has become.

            They don’t look fondly backwards, they make an effort to make friends, make Wales their home and are well received.

          • Inspector General

            Do you know, appreciating the differences between the races was once thought a bad thing. Hard to believe today, what!

          • Anton

            Been in Cardiff recently?

          • Inspector General

            Hah! Was stranded in Cardiff thanks to catching the Sunday 1:30 am boat train form Fishguard some years ago. Arrived 3am ish. Next train out around 7am. One witnessed a sea of discarded takeaway containers littering the streets. It was then that this man decided that the working class Welsh were beyond hope…

          • Anton

            Nobody is beyond hope. And without Christ the Welsh and the English are in exactly the same boat.

  • Inspector General

    Alas, Katie, the African is not up to democracy. In Rhodesia, when they ‘voted’ Mugabe in, what the world didn’t appreciate immediately was that what had actually happened was Mugabe’s tribe was put in power, with him dispensing the gifts of patronage. Government and Administration posts, and the like, to his grateful lackeys. You see, in Africa, the tribe is your extended family. You’re likely related to nearly all of them by DNA.

    One recalls that when the colonial powers pulled out, and fledgling democracy applied, gangs of warriors went round terrorising the electorate all over the continent. Dangerous business, democracy. A loaded gun in children’s hands, don’t you think? It is in Africa, what!

    And no, it will never change. Not now, not soon, not ever. Refreshingly, the world has finally realised that in the last couple of decades, and has washed its hands of what goes on there. Give the African his due, though. He kept on blaming the Europeans rather than himself for his legion of woes right to the end. Well, he still comes out with it on a small scale even now, to a disinterested and wiser audience.

  • Inspector General

    “We live in a beautiful proud country. This crisis is a terrible thing that has happened, and we are determined to serve our brothers and sisters who are struggling, and to build a country which is strong and free once more.”

    Right then, Katie. Let’s run your friend’s impassioned through the Inspector’s wondrous bull removing contraption. Let’s see the truth therein those noble words…

    “We live in a bloody awful place. The crisis is merely the latest in a long line of misery our wretched people inflict on us and themselves. If we can get it to just one third of what it was like when the white man ran things here, we have a chance. But we can’t even manage that. The only peace we’ll ever know is the peace of the grave, which may well come tomorrow, unfortunately, as we have seen all too graphically. Who needs hell when you have Nigeria in all it’s pathetic lurches from one problem to the next thanks to its savage population many of whom need to be shot on sight.”

    Good Lord! Didn’t think the device would come out with that! Wonder if Cranmer would allow the thing a guest post sometime…

  • len

    Nigeria is ‘a beautiful country’ ..undoubtedly. 49.3 percent of Nigeria’s population was Christian, 48.8 percent was Muslim those figures are rapidly changing… The problem seems to be( as in most places elsewhere) the death cult known as IS wants to subjugate all non Muslims by any and all means possible and to create a sort of living hell on earth ruled by themselves.
    And the West is just letting it happen and probably not react until IS is knocking at their door.

    • Uncle Brian

      The ratio of Muslims to Christians in Nigeria is changing very rapidly indeed. The projections in the Pew Forum survey entitled The Future of World Religions, released last week, gives these figures for Nigeria in 2050:
      Christians, 155 million (39 percent), and Muslims, 231 million (59 percent).

      http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projection-table/

      • David

        Hello there Uncle Brian. It’s evening here, so Good Evening to you.
        I have just been looking at those Pew Forum figures. Although my training in statistics is far from advanced, I do question their method of merely projecting forward, apparently on a straight line graph basis, current changes without any attempt to factor in any, even the more significant, of the multitude of other variables. It seems a little simplistic to me. Anyway making such long term projections is extremely risky, as so many things can change over long periods.
        But I would be very happy if a genuine statistical expert emerged from behind His Grace’s pulpit, Rood Screen or candle cupboard to enlighten us.

        • Uncle Brian

          David

          Are they just straight projections? I don’t think so, but I’m no mathematician and I’m in no position to judge. Here’s what it says in the section entitled About these projections:

          [T]hese are the first formal demographic projections using data on age, fertility, mortality, migration and religious switching for multiple religious groups around the world.

          http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/#about-these-projections

          • David

            Is there a statistician in the house ? Like buses they all come together !

        • Anton

          More to the point, how is a Christian and a Muslim defined?

    • Merchantman

      Part of the problem is that you have a man in charge of the Greatest military power on earth who would undoubtedly pass the Boko Haram ‘Koran Test’.
      Think! Had; God forbid he been present in that Kenyan University where 180 young Christians been executed for their beliefs; he would have been spared death because he could have passed muster on reciting the Koran.
      I am not sure anyone has ever asked him if what I say above is true; but I am sure it creates a problem for him in his own mind. How else do you explain his lukewarm reaction to ISIS and Boko Haram and his withdrawal from confronting resurgent Jihadist Islam?????????

  • Shadrach Fire

    My friends Kent and Ruth Hodge who run a Bible school in Jos and lost their assistant, murdered in an ambush last year, seem to remain positive about their situation as I’m sure they have their trust in Jesus Christ. They do a lot of work helping the Muslims, teaching IT and other domestic skills.

    I am not sure whether it matters if the President is Muslim or Christian as history shows they are all corrupt. My knowledge of dealings with Corrupt Generals in the early sixties and from my own visit about fifteen years ago confirmed how difficult life can be. When the great man of God in Benin, Archbishop Benson Idahosa was alive, he would stand up to Presidents and leaders and warn them of the consequences if they followed certain actions and they would back off. Such is ones authority when you know that God is with you.

    How is it that Gillans friends and associates always seem to be on the left?
    even my well-developed blagging skills were put to the test with this corker: ‘Why do you think Mrs Thatcher was so popular?’
    Most communicants on this Blog would have no trouble defending Mrs T.
    No offence Gillan.

    • Inspector General

      Young Scott’s an absolute stinker, Shadrach. As the Inspector is keen to point out to all who will listen to him…

      • Shadrach Fire

        Yes, but he is actually quite a nice guy. Just need a little education on the benefits of the right. Don’t forget he is a teacher and they are brainwashed into left thinking policies. Just look at what the TU is suggesting now for the youngest ones.

        • Inspector General

          Well, if he’s here to learn, all well and good. But remember Cranmer’s last assistant Ivo fled after a bit. All too much for his pinky soul…

          • Shadrach Fire

            I met Bro Ivo at a Freedom Association meeting. Nice old Chap. His words are probably too ‘considered’ to go down well with the Cranmer Blog.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector is a TFA man! Didn’t think he would be the type. Rather doddery is he?

        • Phil R

          I think it is the NUT that is suggesting that not only gays be allowed to into schools to openly influence and recruit the young, but that anyone who opposes this policy should be guilty of a criminal offense under an “ant section 28”

          They see themselves in the role as the new Cheka.

          • DanJ0

            “gays be allowed to into schools to openly influence and recruit the young”

            *snort*

          • Inspector General

            It’s no laugh, you know. The Gay Agenda has it that all teachers must be ‘gay happy’ and have a certificate to prove it. Have your certificate taken away, and you will lose your teaching job. Now that IS the Gaystapo in action…

          • Phil R

            “gays be allowed to into schools to openly influence and recruit the young”

            What else are they there for if not to influence and recruit for your lifestyle choice?

            Not against the law to say these things…..yet… you are getting there…

            To engineer the situation that criticism of certain government policies is a crime, is a very slippery slope to start down.

          • sarky

            Homophobic bullying is a massive problem in schools. I think you will find they are just there to educate.

            Christians go into schools to ‘influence and recruit the young’. Doesn’t work though does it? So why do you think gay people going into schools will suddenly turn kids gay?

            If it stops one kid from being bullied or wanting to hurt themselves, then I have absolutely no problem with it.

          • Phil R

            It certainly works for Christians and according to an article written by a gay school visitor it works for gays also.

            The great myth is of course the “born gay” mantra. Even gays have written about the fact that teenagers especially can be turned or (groomed?) Into the gay lifestyle.

            That is why many gays do not accept the born gay theory.

            Visiting schools is supposed to be about bullying. It is actually about making unnatural and damaging lifestyle choices acceptable.

          • sarky

            Rubbish

          • Phil R

            If it is rubbish then gays themselves are lying about their motives and that they do not believe in the born gays theory

          • sarky
          • DanJ0

            You’re a strange’un, and no mistake.

          • Phil R

            Attack the person when you have no argument

          • sarky

            Erm… I think the argument is obvious to most and doesn’t need stating.

          • Phil R

            If you believe that it is okay to only allow one viewpoint on a government policy backed up by the rule of law then we really are a sick society.

            Stalin , Mao etc must be laughing in their graves

          • DanJ0

            The earlier *snort* was sufficient. Your claim about recruitment is risible in itself. There’s nothing to argue over. It’s simply and clearly false, and that is that. The fact that you still claim it in public is personally damning. You attack yourself, in reality, and then bleat about my head shaking.

          • Phil R

            Simply false only on the basis you say so it seems.

            Carry on snorting by all means.

            It seems nothing is sacred.

            http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/04/trans-activists-are-effectively-experimenting-on-children-could-there-be-anything-more-cruel/

          • DanJ0

            And did you watch Theroux’s documentary yourself?

            “Carry on snorting by all means.”

            Thanks. Being able to openly laugh at the more ludicrous and eccentric religionist propaganda and beliefs is one of my cherished freedoms.

          • DanJ0

            Take a look at the consequences of people like you doing what you do:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3034272/Transgender-teen-California-kills-self-bullying.html

            Make you feel good, does it?

          • DanJ0
          • Phil R

            It makes good headlines.

            Would there be less if pretending you are a girl when you were not was accepted and appaulded?

            I very much doubt it.

            The life of Brian comes to mind. “We support your right to have babies even though it is impossible. It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression”

            These men and boys need support to be boys. Not support to be men who dress and behave as girls.

            If you want to stop this sort of thing happening and you are concerned about their long term happiness, then they need support to be men

          • DanJ0

            Perhaps you should watch the Theroux documentary. I presume you haven’t despite providing a link about it, given your evasion of my direct question below.

          • Phil R

            Not in the UK at the moment. Back at end of April. Will try again then if it is available.

          • DanJ0

            I don’t claim to understand the condition [1] and I don’t know what ahould be done, but I do know that everyone involved should be treated with compassion.

            [1] I used to work with a bloke who left the company and transitioned, unknown to any of us. What he must have been going through in private doesn’t bear thinking about, the poor man.

          • Phil R

            Kids do behave in strange ways.

            One of my sons was convinced from the age of 3 to 5 that he was Father Christmas. He used stickers for beards and dressed in red every time we turned around.

            It was quite sweet to see at 3 but by the age of 5 we found we needed to get a grip so we stopped being supportive and told him off, hid all the red clothes and stickers etc.

            He has grown up and now studying to be an Engineer and laughs at the photos, He also remembers vividly the urge to be Father Christmas but cannot explain it.

            I am therefore not convinced that a boy who dresses at as a girl at 3 etc should be taken seriously or if it persists indulged.

      • CliveM

        It wasn’t Scott who wrote the article.

        • Inspector General

          We know that!

          • CliveM

            So why is he to blame?

          • Inspector General

            Because he gives air room to his lefty mates.

          • CliveM

            Poor chap, he will struggle to have any other as a teacher! Apart from the Thatcher bit, I thought it was a generally am ok article, if a little over hopeful!

          • Inspector General

            The trouble is, when you spend most of your time with little people, you go a bit loopy…

          • CliveM

            The wife’s a teacher……..,

            I think you’re spot on!!

          • Inspector General

            Well, tick the Inspector’s comments then…

          • CliveM

            As it makes you feel better?

          • Inspector General

            ALL of them…

          • CliveM

            Ok…………, eeep

          • Inspector General

            Good chap!

          • The Explorer

            Seeing as he missed that one.

          • Shadrach Fire

            What is this? Some sort of fix to get as many ticks as you can. A kind of congratulatory ticking society. If no one else thinks we are good, then we will!!!!

          • Inspector General

            Relax Shadrach. One merely makes light of our popularist software…

    • Guest

      I’m wrong again!

    • Dominic Stockford

      TearFund is based in my town – that comment didn’t surprise me one bit.

      • Inspector General

        TearFund is such a pitifully mawkish name, don’t you think. Do pass the sick bucket when you’ve finished…

        • Dominic Stockford

          The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund – so there is a reason, but it is pretty poor. I am sorry my church sold them their first decent building back in the 70’s.

          • magnolia

            I have been at times a supporter of theirs, and am mortified that they should have fallen for the man-made global warming scam run by fraudsters encouraging us to see our fellow people as “overpopulation” and Co2 guzzling nuisances, and God as a human-hating mean and stingy ration czar, shaking his head at those who burn petrol to go and visit Granny at the weekend.

            Perhaps they have not studied the Club of Rome and all those behind the grim sterilisation crusades done with often unsterilised equipment upon people who had often been bribed or worse, coerced.

            Paul Ehrlich thought, in 1969:
            “If I were a gambler, I would taken even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

            That is far from the only ludicrous prediction, and with the manmade global warming scaremongers I could fill sheets of A4 with their ridiculous assertions, about being flooded and so on. The worst result has been the needless deaths of many, and the hobbling of some life-saving industry, and one would hope that Tearfund would have seen the non-Christian, and even often occult roots (e.g the Lucis Trust which started off as The Lucifer Trust- seriously) of this people-hating movement. Seriously Tear Fund should not be following anything set up by eugenicists, Luciferians, or social Darwinists. Sounds pretty obvious to me.

          • magnolia

            Sorry I did not make clear the link between Maurice Strong, godfather of the manmade global warming movement, and the Lucis Trust. He was thoroughly one of theirs. I really wish people would research these things before getting into bed with them.

          • Dominic Stockford

            We lost any sympathy when they began pumping out evolutionist propaganda, and then denying they were doing anything of the sort. Not unnaturally, having sold our old Church House to them for their first ‘home’ we had supported them. Although even then they were hard nosed in the extreme with their bargaining! But about 10 years ago we agreed that our prayers support for them would be prayer for THEM, not for their work.

      • Anton

        I made a donation to TearFund once and was dreadfully disappointed when their subsequent mailings to me started ranting about so-called climate justice. The globe taken overall hasn’t got warmer for at least 12 years even though CO2 levels have continued to increase as China and India industrialise. I wrote to TearFund to suggest that they should restrict their campaigning to assistance for people in distress for verifiable reasons and got bullshit back.

        It’s very obvious why Margaret Thatcher was so popular. She spoke what was recognisable truth.

        • Uncle Brian

          Final score, Margaret Thatcher 1, Tearfund nil.

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, they wouldn’t even get nil in my scoring system.

  • Inspector General

    You know you’ve been born in an accursed place when your parents name you ‘Goodluck’. Other boys names for consideration by modern Nigerian parents might include…

    “Be-Nice-To”
    “Slippery”
    “Runfast”
    “Scarper”
    “Don’t-Shoot”
    “I-Want-To-Live”
    “Spare-Me”
    “On-My-Knees-Begging-Here”
    “Chalky”

    Come on chaps. Help the Inspector out here, you must have a few in mind…

    Anyway, the Inspector has not abandoned the place just yet, and is working on a plan to achieve a lasting peace shortly. It’s just that it’s damn difficult getting that much anthrax together. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way…

    • Uncle Brian

      Inspector General, Sir.
      I can’t agree with you in this case. I like the name Goodluck. It’s a saint’s name, after all: St Bonaventure, aka the Seraphic Doctor:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonaventure

      I don’t suppose Goodluck Jonathan was ever called the Seraphic President, but that’s not his parents’ fault for choosing that particular baptismal name.

      • Inspector General

        Your objection noted, Brian.