Nigeria is going through a period of political transition and tension as it holds a critical presidential election. Here we provide updates from the country and guidance for prayer.
News of Bola Tinubu’s victory in the presidential election in Nigeria has raised tensions in the country and led to widespread despondency, particularly among Christians and young people.
According to official results, 70-year-old Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party won with 37% of the vote. However, political parties are opposing the outcome, with Labour’s Peter Obi reportedly planning on launching a legal challenge.
Earlier this week, as news of the result began to emerge, an Open Doors local partner shared, “The atmosphere here is that of anger, disappointment and fear of what may happen.”
Top photo: A photo of President-elect Tinubu, taken in 2011 by Chatham House - CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26223891
- For restraint among citizens and that legal challenges will be pursued and heard with respect and fairness
- That those feeling despondent will not lose hope
- That the Holy Spirit will guide pastors, churches and Christians in their response to this complex and tense situation.
22 February 2023
This month, Nigeria holds a presidential election amid heightening social, religious and political tensions. Here we explain why Christians are concerned about the election, followed by five ways you can pray.
5 ways you can pray into the Nigerian presidential election
Nigerians will head to the polls on 25 February in a controversial and tense presidential election that could have far-reaching implications for the country’s Christians, who are already increasingly affected by extreme persecution.
There was an expectation that the next president will be Christian. This follows an informal agreement among political parties that terms will switch between a Christian and Muslim president (to give equal representation between the majority-Muslim north and majority-Christian south). However, the two major political parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC), with the latter currently in power – have both nominated a Muslim for president.
This has raised concerns among many Christians, who fear it could exacerbate religious and ethnic tensions that are already contributing to the extreme persecution faced by many believers. The country rose to number six on the latest World Watch List. Last year, more believers were killed in Nigeria for their faith than anywhere else in the world combined.
How can I pray?
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
Heavenly Father, at this critical moment in Nigeria we pray that You will be sovereign over the forthcoming election. Give people discernment, wisdom and clarity as they decide their vote. May there be respect for each other’s decisions. Keep away division, hostility and violence. And above all, may Your will be done. Amen.
2. Political parties
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Dear God, we pray that political parties will respect each other and honour their commitment to religious representation. May their campaigns be marked by truth and maturity, and whoever is voted into power, may they lead with justice and integrity. We ask that Your Holy Spirit will move among all parties, particularly through politicians who love You. Amen.
3. Church leaders
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” (1 Kings 3:9)
Sovereign Lord, anoint church leaders as they seek to use their influence to disciple believers amid the challenges and opportunities of this season. Give them wisdom, insight and boldness, and protect them and their families from harm and despondency. May their ministries have a powerful impact on lives, communities and the whole nation. Amen.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Dear God, provide countless opportunities for Your children to demonstrate Your love to others during this period of political tension and transition. Pour Your peace into those who are fearful, encourage the fainthearted and strengthen the weary. Surround those facing persecution with Your peace and protection; be their everlasting hope. Amen.
5. Internally displaced people (IDPs)
“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” (Zechariah 7:9-10)
King Jesus, You know each displaced person, widow and orphan by name, even if they don’t all know You. We ask for Your protection, provision and peace over them, and ask that You will equip and empower the church as they seek to meet the needs of many of them. May those elected to power put policies in place that tangibly improve the lives of the displaced. Amen.
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