Tearfund’s team in Nigeria are calling on us to pray for a fair and peaceful election as the nation goes to the polls.
The first of two general elections takes place on Saturday 16 February. It comes as Nigeria faces a developing humanitarian crisis.
An ongoing conflict provoked by the militant group Boko Haram in north east Nigeria has forced 2.1 million people to flee from their homes, mostly remaining within the country itself.
Pushing for peace
The Nigerian government has in part pushed Boko Haram back, and people have slowly started returning to what’s left of their hometowns. But food and other essential items are in short supply.
Across the north east of the country – in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – almost 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, more than half of them children.
'We are trusting God for free and fair elections.'
It is understandable, therefore, that security has been a key issue in the debates leading up the elections.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), more than 84 million people have registered to vote this year – a record figure and also an indicator of how high the stakes are.
With around 190 million people, Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation. It’s split almost equally between Christians and Muslims, with around 250 different ethnic groups living side-by-side, for the most part peacefully.
Paul Mershak, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Nigeria, says: ‘Politicians are desperately vying for positions, leading to a lot of tension in the country. Despite this we are trusting God for free and fair elections. The election is crucial for Nigeria as it tries to find long-term peace.’
Several Tearfund partners are working to bring peace in Nigeria. Their peacebuilding initiatives help Christians, Muslims and traditional worshippers to work together and live peacefully.
A second election takes place on 2 March for the governorship and state assembly.
• As people go to the polls, pray they are free from fear, that the electoral body will do its duty, and that officials will deal with the process with care.
• Pray for peace during the election period, that insurgents won’t take advantage of the change of power due to the elections, especially in places facing insecurity.
• Pray that the church will be able to continue being a positive influence on public life in Nigeria.
• Lift up our partners as they continue to do vital work to bring peace during and after the elections.