A Nigerian Baptist, Gen. Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, 61, who will be come president next month, is calling for a "moral rearmament" of Africa's most populous nation.
"Unless we embrace and pray for spiritual revival and regeneration, we are not going to get anywhere," Obasanjo said at a March press conference. He was elected in February. And despite allegations of electoral fraud, he is scheduled to assume office on May 29, following 15 years of corrupt military dictatorship in Nigeria.
A staunch advocate of civil liberties and religious freedom, the president-elect frequently and openly confesses his Christian faith and peppers his speeches with quotations from the Bible. When he left prison in 1998 and launched his spectacular bid to return to power, he said, "Victory is not mine … it is the Lord's!"
About half of Nigeria's 110 million people are Muslims, concentrated in the northern two-thirds of the country. But Christians, now numbering about 50 million, are rapidly gaining and making inroads in the north. Since independence from Britain 39 years ago, Nigerian federal politics has been dominated by Muslims from the north, which emboldened Muslim radicals and intimidated Christian evangelists.
Hundreds of members of the two largest and most active Muslim groups in the north, the Islamic Brotherhood and the Tajdid Jihad Islamiya, have been detained in the past decade for violent acts against Christians. Open-air meetings are so risky they are virtually forbidden, although not legally. When violence occurs against Christians, police usually look the other way. Widespread riots occurred in Kano and Kaduna in 1996 when popular Shi'ite religious leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky was arrested for coordinating violent dispersals ...1
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