- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
As the eradication of Islamic extremism in Nigeria appears to lag, and the animosity between the Muslim population of the North and mostly southern Christian population fails to cease, many observers call for the Christian community to put a greater pressure on the Nigerian government.
The international Christian community can do a lot to help, by pressuring the Nigerian government to take decisive action to prevent more of the religious violence, Regional Manager for Africa at International Christian Concern (ICC), Jonathan Racho, told The Christian Post recently. ICC is a watchdog group monitoring global Christian communities for instances of persecution.
"At this point Nigerian Christians need a lot of help," Racho said. "People from all over the world should put pressure on their governments so that their governments put pressure on the Nigerian government. The international community needs to push for change in Nigeria."
The Nigerian government needs to understand that it cannot continue to put the country in this kind of crisis; decisive action needs to be taken, he added. Racho's response mirrors that of critics who have been saying that the president and his government are not doing enough to prevent violence.
He emphasized that weeding out extremists is key to bringing back peace and stability.
Meanwhile, a celebrated Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has called earlier this month on Nigeria's religious leaders to intervene.
"Christian leaders must continue to preach peace and togetherness so that Christians do not retaliate," Adichie told The Guardiann. Meanwhile, Muslim leaders must "strongly and repeatedly condemn the violence against Christians and make it clear that Boko Haram does not represent Nigerian Islam," she said.
But the popular writer also joined in on calling for stronger, more decisive action from the government. Adichie said she completely understands the rage and pain of Christian southerners whose relatives are being murdered in the north, and whose "shock and mourning are worsened by the weakness of the government's response."
"What matters to me is that our president has publicly said that Boko Haram has backers and supporters in the national assembly. If he has this knowledge, why has nothing been done to and about these supporters of terrorism?" she inquired in the interview with the British daily.
Following the bombings of churches in the north east of Nigeria on Christmas Day by radical Islamist group Boko Haram, and the violence that has continued into the new year, tens of thousands of Christians have fled the city of Maiduguri- the unofficial capital of Muslim extremism in the country – and the region. Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan is seen more and more often as unable to handle the sectarian violence.
Over 185 civilians were killed in bombings in Kano recently. Even though Boko Haram has renounced that act of violence, many still believe the terror group is responsible.
Meanwhile, the wave of deadly attacks against churches has resulted in acts of retaliation from Christians, including the burning of a mosque and school in the southern city of Benin, as reported by BBC.
Jonathan seemingly stepped up on the efforts to appease his voters and international observers in this matter recently. Last week he sacked the chief of police and his six deputies amid calls for a shake-up in the security forces. He also challenged Boko Haram members to come forward and state their demands as a basis for dialogue. The terror group declined dialogue and threatened fresh attacks.
Christian release organizations have been calling for financial support for the local community. But another, more active form of support is needed as well, some prominent observers have been saying.