Researchers Foresee “mass exodus” of Young Nigerian Christians: This is Why

Credit: ACN

The passivity of Nigerian authorities amid systematic religious-based attacks have left many young Christians in Nigeria disillusioned and many may leave the West African country, a recent report by the Catholic Pontifical and Charity Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, has shown.

In the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2023, ACN warns of a “mass exodus” of young Nigerian Christians who will be forced to leave their ancestral land in search of refuge elsewhere.

Maria Lozano, an official of ACN who participated in the editing of the report published on June 22, further foresees the spread of “the cancer of Islamist jihadism” to the rest of Northern Africa should the Nigerian authorities remain complacent about Christian persecution in the country.

“If the Nigerian authorities do not address the conflicts concerning land, ethnicity, criminality, and religious extremism, as well as the breakdown in democratic values and the equal rights of its citizens including religious freedom, the cancer of Islamist jihadism and political disintegration evident in the northern half of Africa will spread,” Ms. Lozano says in the report.

She adds, “The socio-political pressure and unabated atrocities will provoke an exodus of young Christians seeing neither hope nor future in the land of the forefathers.”


The ACN official notes that though the Nigerian situation is not isolated as many other African countries are experiencing Christian persecution, the West African country that is Africa’s most populous nation is unique and of crucial importance for the development of the African continent.

“Nigeria is an economic and demographic powerhouse with the population expected to double to 400 million in two decades. The events, and governance, in the coming years will not only have an enormous influence in the country but throughout the region,” Ms. Lozano says.

“Almost every single problem that affects other African countries can also be found in Nigeria,” she says. 

In Ms. Lozano’s analysis titled, “Nigeria: A Failing Democracy?”, she wonders why Islam is more important politically and administratively when the number of Christians in Nigeria are slightly higher than that of Muslims.

Christianity is the majoritarian religion (46.2 percent) based principally in the South whereas Islam (45.8 percent) is found mainly in the North.

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This, Ms. Lozano says, does not mean that there are no Christians in the North and vice-versa.

“The north-eastern State of Borno, for example, the birthplace of Boko Haram, is 30 percent Christian,” she says.

“Politically and administratively the Muslim north is more important, but it is home to only 40 percent of the population. In principle, in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation, this would give the Christian south equal or greater weight; however, almost 95 percent of the political and military power at the federal level is held by Muslims,” says Ms. Lozano.

She notes that the resulting tensions hindering the country’s democratic development are further exacerbated by the implementation of Shari’a Law in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 Northern States.

Ms. Lozano is less optimistic that the situation of Christians in Nigeria will change especially with the recently elected Muslim-Muslim ticket under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.