Nigeria Catholic Archbishop Decries Country’s “subtle persecution” Sidelining Christians

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama. Credit: ACN

The Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria has termed as “more dangerous” the tendency by the Nigerian government to sideline Christians in the distribution of resources in the West African country.

Describing the unfairness in the distribution of government positions in the country as “subtle persecution”, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama called for a fair and just distribution of resources in the country where the number of Muslims is just about equal to that of Christians.

Archbishop Kaigama was asked by the Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, about the situation of Christians in the country and the allegations that persecution is increasing.

Credit: ACN

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said, “We cannot generalize by simply saying that Christians are persecuted, because in the governing party there are Christians.”


“There is subtle persecution, which is even more dangerous. It is done in such a way that you cannot say they are really killing Christians; they have not pushed the Christians away, but the way the government carries on you can be sure the Christians are not favored,” Archbishop Kaigama is quoted as saying in the ACN Friday, August 5 report.

According to the Local Ordinary of Abuja, persecution is not just about killing people with knives but “about manipulating things in favor of one group”.

In the report, the Archbishop insists that there is no equity in Nigeria, especially in government, saying, “We are a country that is more or less 50-50, so there should be equal distribution of resources, of opportunities, and people should feel included in sensitive political, economic or security positions.”

Credit: ACN

He says that one clear example of Nigeria’s disregard for equity is the decision of the country’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), to choose a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidential elections slated for next year.

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“In the whole of the north, they could not find a Christian who is qualified to be Vice-President?” Archbishop Kaigama says in reaction to the APC party’s decision.

In the ACN report, the Archbishop expresses skepticism that Nigeria’s ruling party will allow the 2023 vote to be fair, adding that the Church is providing civic education to the people to ensure that the narrative in the country changes for the better.

Credit: ACN

“It is important that the elections take place. We are waiting for the elections, and we hope they will be credible, because in the past they have manipulated them, but they have assured us that the votes will count, and that is why even in churches we are telling people to register to vote. I have done so and I have asked everyone to do so, and I think the young people are eager. They are so angry with what is going on, and they really want a change,” he says.

He adds, “Nigerians are very optimistic; we always believe that tomorrow will be better, and that whatever happens, nothing will scatter the nation. We suffer, but we smile at the same time. We are suffering and smiling, otherwise life is terrible.”


In the interview with ACN, Archbishop Kaigama also addressed the terrorist attack on a prison located near the international airport in Nigeria’s capital Abuja and said that the attack paints a grim image of Nigeria’s security situation.

In the attack, the terrorists are said to have freed leading Boko Haram members and killing an unknown number of soldiers.

“More worrying was the attack on the troops of the 7 Guards Brigade which provides security for the Presidential Villa and the Federal Capital Territory, ambushed while on patrol”, Archbishop Kaigama says in the ACN August 5 report.

He adds, “Abuja is the capital city, and it should be the safest place to be. This is where the President lives; we didn’t think things could happen in Abuja in this manner. We are not sure what could happen next, when or from where the attackers can come, because they can do anything. The situation is very serious.”

According to the Local Ordinary of Abuja, attacks in Nigeria are organized and do not happen by chance.

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He says that Nigeria has never experienced what is happening at the moment, and explains, “Some years ago, there were bomb attacks. But there has never been a really serious threat, as we are witnessing now.”

Credit: ACN

Fear and frustration are simmering in Nigeria as the country heads to the polls, the Nigerian Archbishop told ACN, adding that the frustration is compounded by the fact that politicians seem unwilling to do anything to remedy the situation.

“One would have thought that as a result of the worsening security situation, senators, and representatives at the National Assembly would be feverishly seeking solutions to the problems, but instead they gave themselves six weeks break. After the attacks they left, just last week!”, the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 explains.

He adds, in reference to the country’s political leaders, “They receive their salaries, their privileges, but they are less concerned about the overall welfare of the people.”

“Since I arrived in Abuja as Archbishop, I have been to nearly every village, but when I mention the names, the politicians or political leaders don’t seem to know them. And you would imagine that they would come and ask you what you found out, where did you go, what did you see? But no. They are not available. They say they are busy. People are suffering, but the leaders simply care more about their personal welfare and official privileges,” Archbishop Kaigama laments.

He expresses hope in the 2023 general elections, saying, “I am hoping this next election will be free, fair and transparent, and will produce leaders who are selfless, people-oriented and capable of genuine dialogue.”

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.