AMERICAN inter-faith leaders have declared that Nigeria a ticking time bomb which may soon become the most dangerous place on the planet if something is not done urgently to address the growing spate of insecurity across the country.
Regarded as the 16th most dangerous country on earth, Nigeria is currently reeling from a series of traumas including the Boko Haram insurgency, the menace of armed Fulani cattle herdsmen, a high rate of kidnapping and violent banditry. After a fact-finding mission to northern Nigeria, the US inter-faith group declared that the country faces a grave risk of the communal violence getting out of hand.
Among the leaders who visited included Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Reverend Johnnie Moore, the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. Their mission was to investigate targeted attacks by Islamist extremists against vulnerable Christian communities and other issues related to the ongoing conflict in West Africa.
In their report, they said: “Does anyone give a damn about the innocents dying every day in West Africa? If so, it’s time to show it.
“You, like us, have no doubt heard of the attacks on communities throughout vulnerable parts of Nigeria. You’ve heard of the kidnapping and abuse of young women, the churches that have been burned, the homes that have been razed and of the million or more children now roaming the streets out-of-school.”
During their visit, they met with Christian and Muslim religious leaders, representatives of non-governmental organisations, senior government officials as well as more than 50 survivors of attacks by Boko Haram, Islamic State of West Africa and herdsmen.
They added: “Maybe last week, you also heard about the second anniversary of the kidnapping of the courageous teenager, Leah Sharibu, or the torching of a bus the week before that or of the grotesque beheading of a noted Christian pastor two weeks before that. After our journey there, we want the world to know that you haven’t heard half of it.
“The terrorists’ aim to ethnically cleanse northern Nigeria of its Christians and to kill every Muslim who stands in their way. If things don’t change immediately, portions of Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad region may soon become the most dangerous place on the planet.
“This portion of Africa will be ground zero for the next generation’s war on terrorism and the humanitarian cost of letting these problems fester and multiply in the near-term could result in disaster for much of Western Africa. Our message to the leaders of Nigeria is that the status quo is unacceptable and the government must do more to immediately fulfil its fundamental responsibility to protect all of its citizens.”