Today Nigeria is 51, this time last year I was in a crowd of Nigerians in Eagle Square in Abuja, who were proud of their country and their President; and hopeful for the future, with an election looming. That day however there was a terrorist attack on Abuja resulting in a number of fatalities, MEND the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility.
The following day, I went to a Jubilee service at the National Christian Centre where the President spoke, again a great sense of hope for the times ahead.
12 months on, the election took place in April and was claimed by national and international bodies to be the freest and fairest election ever in Nigeria, but nobody said it was the most peaceful; widespread violence and rioting followed particularly in a number of cities in the North.
When I came to Nigeria, I was told Abuja is safe, if there is ever trouble and volunteers are at risk, they are taken to Abuja while things calm down; unfortunately this no longer seems to be the case. The UN building was bombed in August, causing 23 deaths, in June the Police Headquarters. This time the group claiming responsibility is Boko Haram, which means Western education is sin, they want Sharia Law to be imposed in the Northern States, and since the election have claimed responsibility for a large number of fatalities mostly in Maiduguiri, situated in Borno State, the Land of Peace, but most recently in Abuja.
So Nigeria has its new President, or elected President (Goodluck Jonathan was formerly Vice President and became President in 2010 following the death of the Late Yar’Adua), but it also has a lot of conflict, and I think a lot of impatience from Nigerians that the President is not doing enough to address it. I for one hope they will be patient and give Jonathan time, and that he will have the strength and wisdom to provide the leadership this country needs.
God bless Nigeria!