Churches in Nigeria are “suffering” but are “determined and full of faith”, the Archbishop said during a BBC World Service special on the country’s prospects for peace and prosperity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury took part in a special programme on Nigeria’s prospects for peace and prosperity on BBC World Service’s Newsday recently.
Archbishop Justin, who first visited Nigeria in 1978 while working in the oil industry and has since returned regularly as a priest working on reconciliation and development projects, joined the show which was exploring Nigeria’s potential to become a major economic player.
The Archbishop, who regularly speaks with contacts in Nigeria, described its Anglican Church as an ‘extraordinary powerhouse’.
During the interview he answered questions about the country’s security problems; fighting between Christian and Muslims; prospects for Nigeria’s prosperity, and the role played by oil companies.
He also spoke of the place of religion in Nigeria society, and how it is often used as “a hook” on which to hang very complex conflicts.
Speaking about the insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria, the Archbishop said the situation is “very volatile” but that fighting had become more contained than it was two years ago.
Meanwhile, he added, “the churches are suffering but are determined, they’re full of faith, and so is Jesus Christ. The Muslim leaders, many of the Muslim leaders, are hanging on in there and doing what they need to do. It’s a very volatile situation indeed.”
The programme, which was broadcast from Lagos on Monday 6th January while the Archbishop spoke from London, included commentary from economist Jim O’Neil and interviews with Nigerians in Lagos about economic and security issues.
Describing Nigeria as “an optimistic nation”, Archbishop Justin said he suspected the country was capable of overcoming the “very significant threats” to its future as an economic powerhouse.
“My own instinct now, with well over 30 years of working there – and seeing it in the business area as well – is the extraordinary talents of its people, the remarkable determination of many of its institutions, above all its faith institutions – the Anglican Church an extraordinary powerhouse there – is capable of overcoming these difficulties. Yes there are huge difficulties, but if I was a betting person, I would put my money on Nigeria succeeding and not failing.”