Persistent Insecurity in Nigeria “biggest threat to 2023 elections”, Christian Leaders Say

Members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) with President Muhammadu Buhari. Credit: Presidency of Nigeria

Representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria have expressed concern about persistent insecurity in the West African nation saying it constitutes the “biggest threat” to general elections scheduled to take place next year.

Addressing himself to members a delegation of the European Union (EU) led by Chief Election Observer, Maria Arena, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle decried “security challenges, occasioned by the criminal activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in the country.”

In a Wednesday, March 2 report, Rev. Ayokunle has been quoted as saying, “Insecurity in the country is the biggest threat to 2023 elections.”

“The government appears to be struggling to nip the ugly situation in the bud, their present effort is far from being enough,” the CAN official says, and adds, “We have been struggling with this situation now for the past thirteen years, yet, we are still where we are!”

In the report, the official of the Christian entity that includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) urges the “Federal Government and the security agencies to wake up to the security challenges in the country where terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are operating with impunity and nowhere is safe and secure again.”


According to Rev. Ayokunle, the security situation in the country “might not allow the general election to be credible, free, and fair, if the voters were not allowed to go out to exercise their inalienable rights, because of fear of being harmed or kidnapped, or killed.”

Nigeria, which is expected to hold general elections next year, has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state.

Since then, the group, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

The situation of insecurity in the West African nation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers reportedly over grazing land.

In the March 2 report, CAN president urges members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be “apolitical'' in the task assigned to them.

More in Africa

He says officials of INEC who are “card-carrying members of the ruling party” should “step down or be flushed out” in order to avoid compromised election results.

The CAN official invites INEC officials to borrow from their counterparts in The Gambia where their recently-conducted elections were “far better” than Nigeria’s elections.

“(The) Gambia’s elections were more credible, free and fair. It was also free from security harassment and there was a level playing field for all the parties involved,” Rev. Ayokunle says.

He adds, “We are supposed to be doing better because we have more resources and more capacity than Gambians.”

Reflecting on the ideal candidate for the presidential polls, the CAN official says, “CAN has no candidate for the office of the President.”


However, he notes, there is need to have a “Christian as the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Muslim and would have spent eight years in office by the time he is handing over to the next president.”

“Although Nigeria is practicing democracy but because of our peculiarities which include multicultural, multi-tribal, and multi-religious nature, ours should be a home-grown democracy where every divide should be given a sense of belonging,” Rev. Ayokunle says.

Even if the constitution is silent on the six geopolitical zones rotational representation, CAN President says, “The political parties should be wise enough to make use of it in sharing the leadership positions.”

“We have warned all political parties against fielding either Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian Presidential candidates,” he says, and adds, “Since President Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim from the North, in the interest of equity, fairness, social justice and cohesion, the next President should be a Christian from the South.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.