LAGOS, NIGERIA – The National Prayer Altar, an interdenominational and international platform of Christians who pray for Nigeria, has expressed concern over the ethnic conflicts that followed the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State. The group organized a colloquium on Saturday, 8th April 2023, where Yoruba and Igbo leaders, as well as other citizens of Nigeria, discussed the issue and proffered solutions.
Over 200 people in Nigeria and the diaspora attended the virtual meeting hosted via ZOOM. The meeting featured three key speakers from the North, East, and West of Nigeria.
At the end of the meeting, the group issued a communiqué. It stated that Nigeria is a country made up of hundreds of ethnic nationalities living in peace and harmony with each other. The communiqué noted that the Yorubas and the Igbos, the two major nationalities in the south of Nigeria, have never fought each other in over one thousand years of shared history but only traded.
The group expressed concern about the tension deliberately fermented between the Igbos and the Yorubas, which resulted in the ethnic conflict that erupted during the Lagos State governorship election of 18th March 2023. Some agents of a particular political party, claiming to represent the Yoruba race, openly and aggressively profiled the Igbos and criminally denied them the opportunity to exercise their civic right to vote. This action was strongly condemned by the group.
The communiqué urged Nigerians not to accept the intimidation by those members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its agents, as any political party that bullies any people cannot mean well for the country. It also called on the judiciary, as the last hope of the common man, to be circumspect in handling the election cases in court to prevent a perversion of justice and its disastrous consequences on the country.
Furthermore, the communiqué urged Christian leaders to be more outspoken in promoting peaceful co-existence amongst citizens of the country. It called for Christian leaders of Igbo and Yoruba origin to come together and address the issues publicly, in the promotion of peace and mutual goodwill. It reminded Igbos and Yorubas that divide-and-rule was a major policy of the colonial powers, and has been adopted as an internal ethno-political colonialist strategy.
The National Prayer Altar urged Igbos and Yorubas to remember that the major actors in the civil war of 1967 – 1970 were mostly Christians who ended up decimating one another across ethnic lines under manipulation by their cleverer religio-ethnic colonialist dividers. The doctrine of hate and the supremacist ideology of one ethnic group in Nigeria have been major factors hindering the unity and progress of Nigeria, especially as the unity of the Igbos and Yorubas is integral to resisting local colonization.
In conclusion, the National Prayer Altar called on all Nigerians to embrace peaceful co-existence and shun any form of hate and divisiveness. The group urged Nigerians to promote national unity and resist any attempt to divide the country along ethnic or religious lines.