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                                        New Threats to Africa's Peace and Security: the Role of Youth in Preventing  Conflicts and Building Sustainable Peace - Kujenga Amani




Christians have faced numerous attacks over the past fifty years, many of which have their roots in political, religious, and ethnic unrest and discrimination. Today, Christians, their homes, and loved ones are still vulnerable to violent attacks by terrorists and other unidentified individuals. Many worshippers have been abducted, Christians have been bombed, and clerics have been killed in both their homes and places of worship by Islamist group who have been believed to have received training from Al Qaeda. Recently St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, a suburb in the Owo local government area of Ondo state, on December 24, 2011, when members gathered for Christmas Eve (Adam, 2011) was attacked, a dozen of Christians where killed and many injured. This incident has left many Christian homes in tears, sorrow and pains. Many Christians are confused about what to do, how to do it, and how they will live in the wake of this catastrophe. Although churches were always thought to be safe places to flee to, churches are no longer considered to be so in today’s culture. Many Christians have been involved in all sort of conflict in the country in recent times. Conflict both religiously and otherwise.

Conflict is a dynamic phenomenon with five stages: commencement, escalation, controlled maintenance, abatement, and termination/resolution (Sandole 1993:8). Church leaders have repeatedly made pro-peace declarations in recent decades. In some situations, these comments were specific appeals for peace in specific circumstances; however, on other occasions, they released more extensive statements on the necessity for peace and the measures to achieve it. The teachings of Christianity, which are directed by the commands of the bible (word of God), have consistently encouraged believers to maintain peace and harmony in society.

Christian leaders have traditionally actively advocated for societal peace and concord, as well as opposition to violence. It is now widely acknowledged that violent conflict is the primary impediment to African development, particularly in Nigeria. It causes human misery by causing death, destroying livelihoods, causing repeated displacement, and causing insecurity (Barash, 2000). Violent conflict disrupts the manufacturing process, provides circumstances for resource plunder, and diverts resources from development to military reasons. Thus, violent conflict is to blame for perpetuating misery and underdevelopment in Nigeria and the continent as a whole (Adetula, 2006). The political unrest, wars, and volatility in Nigeria have caused grave worry among both citizens and noncitizens in the region. However, “Nigeria remains hampered by political malpractice, deep economic contradictions, social inequality, and a significant potential for violence due to the politicization of identity” (International Crisis Group, 2006a), which includes religious, ethnic, and communal conflicts, insecurity, organized crime, and human rights violations. Nigeria has endured major events that have damaged its coexistence since 1999. These and many others, has put the country in a state of ensuring peace and harmony among citizens in the country.

Peace is a universal phenomenon that everyone desires and wishes to enjoy endlessly. There are various paths that different societies, cultures, religions, and traditions use to achieve and maintain peace. Development and long life are commonplace whenever and wherever there is peace (Salawu, 2010). In light of this, Christianity, one of the major world religions today, promotes and teaches peace, calling on all of its followers to pursue it and coexist harmoniously. Given the increase of internal, international, and ethnoreligious conflicts worldwide, the aforementioned assertion appears to be in doubt these days. Nigeria is an African nation that faces both intra- and inter-religious disputes, in contrast to the majority of Arab and some European countries that deal with intra-religious conflicts. With a population of around 170 million and over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is widely recognized as the most populous black nation in Africa. The primary religions in Nigeria are Islam and Christianity, however African Traditional Religion (ATR) is still practiced there. The Hebrew term “Shalom,” which is central to the Bible and the way God intends for us to live on earth, is the source of the English word “peace” in Christianity. As stated in the scripture passages above, one of the main gifts that Jesus came to bring to humanity is peace, and he expects us to live in peace. Jesus never advocated for violence; in fact, when the Pharisees arrested him and one of his disciples struck the priest in the ears, Jesus rebuked the disciple and declared that “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword” (Mathew 26:52, NKJV). Jesus lived and taught peace, which is what scholars most often refer to as pacifism. Jesus additionally instructed the people to always forgive those who wrong them and to forgive their neighbors even seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22, KJV). This was in contrast to the old teachings of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and “if one should strike you on the right cheek, turn the left cheek” (Mathew 5:38–39, NKJV). In light of the church’s scriptural teachings, Christians are expected to coexist peacefully and harmoniously in society.


Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for All | United Nations Development  Programme


Nigerian communities face a plethora of development challenges, such as acute economic, political, and social crises; a deterioration in educational standards; moral and physical decay; and a cultural crisis stemming from the strong influence of materialism, science, technology, and ideologies on traditional values. Medical facilities are completely dilapidated. All of these issues raise concerns about the Church’s continued ability to provide the necessary support in these troubled locations. The key question is whether the Church is still relevant in the current environment in light of these challenges and crises. The Church’s contribution to the resolution of issues in Nigerian society in the twenty-first century may be decisive in the Nigerian people’s justification of the Church’s existence, as relevance is a crucial component of any significant occurrence, event, or institution, particularly in the area of human life. This work will examine the role of the Church in Nigeria today and set how it can help address several issues of poverty and other social problems facing the people. It will also look at how it can further join the government and other stakeholders in bringing sustainable development among the people for which it was a source of hope in the past. This work builds on the great signs of vitality and great contributions made by the Church to community development since the arrival of the early missionaries to Eastern Nigeria.


The specific objectives of the study include:

i)     To examine the role of church in ensuring peace and harmony in the Nigeria.

ii)   To determine to what extent the Church has been vital and relevant in maintaining peace and unity in Nigeria.

iii)  To examine the dictates of the church as regards peace and harmony.

iv) To identify the factors disrupting peace and harmony of the society.


1.   What is the role of church in ensuring peace and harmony in the society?

2.   What are the dictates of the church as regards peace and harmony?

3.   What are the factors disrupting peace and harmony of the society?


Ho: The church plays no significant role in ensuring peace and harmony in the Nigeria.

H1: The church plays significant role in ensuring peace and harmony in Nigeria.

Ho:Church has played no vital and relevant role in maintaining peace and unity in Nigeria

H2:Church has played a vital and relevant role in maintaining peace and unity in Nigeria


The following are the significance of this study: The findings of this study will be useful for the government, church leaders and the general public on the role of the church in ensuring sustainable peace and harmony in the society. It will provide valuable insights into existing relationship between the government and the church in providing peace and unity in our rural communities. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic. It will add to existing knowledge and equally serve as a benchmark for further studies.



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