– Nigeria Most Dangerous Place to be a Christian?
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was invited to speak with United States Congress House Sub Committee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organization. In the invitation letter, the chairman Christopher Smith said “Nigeria has been cited as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world.”
It is possible the chairman was referring to another earlier report by Christian charity Open Doors which came out in 2016. It announced that North Korea was the overall worst place to be a Christian but that Nigeria was the most dangerous.
Around the period, Enuma Okoro, award winning writer posited arguments against the claim and true to her words, Christians in most parts of the eastern and western Nigeria will wonder at the statistics.
Much has happened between 2016 and now with recent killings of a Christian woman in Abuja, herdsmen rampage in Delta and Kaduna but the major of the challenges faced by Christians still remains in the northern part of Nigeria.
This is not to dispel the ordeals of the Christians around the nation but like Okoro rightly said, she lives in Abuja and the most danger she faces is from “oncoming traffic as I drive to church on Sunday mornings.”
The ordeal faced by Christians in the North from insurgency and the infiltration of Fulani herdsmen us real but to use that as criteria for tagging Nigeria most dangerous country for Christians is a little extreme.
“Yes, religious persecution is real and growing, in Nigeria as well as globally – but not just of Christians.” She inputs. “Boko Haram is a violent Islamic extremist group that, in part, fights what it sees as western ideologies and replaces them with its own belief system… Most of Nigeria’s followers of Islam do not adhere to their beliefs or principles, and Boko Haram’s activities, concentrated in north-eastern Nigeria – and now spreading to Chad and Cameroon – has largely affected Muslim communities. It is too simplistic to think of Boko Haram as simply being anti-Christian.
“There is no denying the reality of religious persecution throughout the world. It certainly happens here in Nigeria. But the bare statistics don’t communicate the full socioeconomic and political context. If we oversimplify the story of death and destruction happening far away, we risk desensitising and distancing people, which is the exact opposite of what reports such as Open Doors’ set out to do.” She concludes.
While Okoro is absolutely correct, we can also agree it is the perspective of a person living in a not-so-pressured part of the nation. For someone living in Borno, Kaduna, Maiduguri and the likes, the conclusion may be different.
Enuma Okoro is a writer, speaker and strategic communications consultant. She is an award-winning author of four non-fiction books