Pastor on Islamic Extremism in Nigeria: Evil Will Spread Unless Christians Unite

Boko Haram has been killing thousands of civilians and Christians for years in Nigeria, and the only way to stop the Islamic extremist terror group is prayer, said one Christian leader.

"Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Shabab is evil. Until we all stand together to condemn it, it will continue to spread," Pastor Ade Oyesile, executive director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, told The Christian Post. "We Christians can help the government, with our fervent prayers without ceasing."

"The right strategy to drive this evil people out of Nigeria, God will give to people in government. World leaders may come together and all that, but repentance and fear of God is the sure way forward."

Boko Haram has been attacking government buildings, civilians, Christians and people of all walks of life during its six-year insurgency involving raids, shootings and bombings. The group has killed over 20,000 people.

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to drive out the militants, though his previously set deadline for doing so in December passed. The extremists killed close to 100 people over the holiday period in a series of suicide bombings and village raids.

Buhari has received support from U.S. President Barack Obama, with the government donating $11 million in mine-resistant and armor-protected vehicles to Nigeria's army, as The Associated Press reported on Thursday.

"The equipment donation represents part of the continuing U.S. commitment to Nigeria and its neighbors to counter Boko Haram's senseless acts of terror and promote regional security," Temitayo Famutimi of the U.S. Department of State said.

There has been some frustration with Buhari's suggestion in December that his army had "technically won the war" against Boko Haram, however, with members of the #BringBackOurGirls movement planning to march to the State House in Abuja on Jan. 14 to speak with the president.

The movement is comprised of families of the over 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped from the town of Chibok in April 2014, which made international news headlines. The girls, most of them Christians, make up only a small portion of the thousands of women and children Boko Haram has kidnapped over the years. Female victims have often been sold off as brides.

Premium Times reported that the Bring Back Our Girls group has taken issue with Buhari failing to specifically mention the kidnapped girls in his New Year's address to the nation.

The group said in a statement that it was "shocked" that Buhari claimed that Boko Haram has been "technically defeated," given that the girls have still not been rescued.

"We are extremely disappointed that seven months after his strong promise at inauguration and six months after his pledge to the parents, Chibok community and our movement that he would rescue the 219 daughters of Nigeria, his statement was lacking in urgency and assurance of strategy for result," the movement declared.

Oyesile, who is also pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God - Chapel of Hope, in New York, told CP that the frustration the movement feels cuts across all of Nigeria, and said that Buhari himself also shares in the disappointment.

"In Africa and Nigeria in particular, we have a communal culture where we are our brother's
keeper. Children are essentially seen as belonging to the community not just to their biological parents," the pastor said.

"The president, if you follow events, has severally expressed his frustration of inability to locate and free those girls, just as the parents and everyone else. A lot of progress has no doubt been made in curtailing Boko Haram, and everyone would be happier when the girls are freed."

At the end of December, CANAN also spoke out on the ongoing corruption crackdown in Nigeria concerning a number of politicians, stating that the scandal is a "tragedy to the nation."

"We are particularly miffed by the heartlessness exhibited by all the accused individuals in the manner they allegedly withdrew and shared millions of dollars while the average Nigerian is wallowing in abject poverty," the association said in a statement, noting that although Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer, as much as 68 percent of its population continues living on less than $1.25 a day.

"Never in the history of the nation have those in government been discovered to have either withdrawn or cornered public funds with such impunity without an iota of empathy for the generality of the people, and disappointingly, even members of the media, the supposed watchdogs, are reported to be actively involved in the loot sharing," the statement continued.

Oyesile argued that greed and failing to trust God are at the heart of such corruption, and said that the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram is not the cause, but only a window of opportunity for the alleged funds misappropriation.

"Some people in leadership positions steal with impunity because their conscience does not prick them, they want to amass all the wealth they can imagine, forgetting that money cannot buy them peace and joy — only the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ can," he said.

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