SHAFAQNA – Chanting “we want change”, a growing number of Nigerian Christians are saying they will back Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari in upcoming presidential elections, citing Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to defeat Boko haram or make economic progress. “The bishops see him as a man of integrity and decency who can fight corruption and Boko Haram,” the Rev. John Bakeni, secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic Diocese, told Washington Post. Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the presidential candidate representing the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
Fearing spread of corruption and militant groups, many Nigerians said they will not vote for Jonathan in upcoming elections.
Buhari was also endorsed by the Northern Christian Leaders’ Eagle-Eyes Forum last February.
Thought they have not endorsed any candidate so far, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are also believed to support Buhari.
Buhari’s support even grew among the Christian community after picking Yemi Osinbajo, a senior pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God and a former attorney general of the state of Lagos, as his running mate.
Religious leaders fear a repeat of the post-election violence of 2011, when hundreds of churches were torched and hundreds of Christians killed after Jonathan was declared the winner.
In Nairobi, an official at the All Africa Conference of Churches urged Jonathan and Buhari to show leadership “at this critical juncture in their country.”
“They must urge supporters to remain calm and refrain violence during the elections,” said Solomon Gichira, who is dealing with peace issues at the Africa-wide Protestant grouping.
The Nigerian general election of 2015 will be the 5th quadrennial election to be held since the end of military rule in 1999.
Analysts say the vote is too close to call, the most tightly contested election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999.
Ahead of elections, Nigerian Muslim leaders have reiterated calls for unity and peace during the election race, amid escalating threats from Boko-Haram militants.