Christians in Nigeria: A Follow-up

By Innocent Okechukwu

Editor's note: Many have asked about the situation of Christians in Nigeria since we published Innocent's composition in our Summer 2023 issue, The First Winner of the UCCMA 30th Anniversary Anthem Commission ( Please read his response and then consider using his piece in your church.

With a total population of around 224 million, Nigeria has the largest Christian population in Africa and the sixth largest in the world, according to Pew Research Center. However, Christians in Nigeria keep fluctuating between 40%-50% of the country's population. In 2019, the Muslim population was at 50%, making the Muslims the most populated religion in Nigeria. It is still not news to all that when the colonial masters were leaving Nigeria "for good," they handed power over to a Muslim and a Northerner - Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who served as the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. Consequently, this control of power has done more harm than good to the Christians in Nigeria, who are seen as second-class citizens (albeit unequivocal).

There's been a significant decline in the economy, healthcare, security, and otherwise, but this appears to make no meaning to the political class while the citizens suffer. The rise of insurgencies, especially from the dreaded Boko-Haram group, who are well seated in the North and allegedly being sponsored by the Northern/Religious/Political class to carry out mayhem on the citizenry, but Christians most especially. This has led to fear among the people during religious gatherings and worship in the Church, as there have been many records of Christians who were killed while worshipping in Churches. While the people cry and clamor, the political class disregards their plight, as nothing has been done to deter and avoid future occurrences.

It is the opinion of some Nigerians that Christians now pray to God for what the government can provide in the blink of an eye but have continued to deny the people their fundamental rights as stipulated in the country's constitution. Consequently, many Christians seem to have lost hope and trust in God. This has led to a silent revolution amongst the newer generations who have taken to social media to debunk the existence of God. Some believe that religion is another political jingoism that is still used by the heralders of Christianity in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Finally, I think we can agree that Christians are persecuted in Nigeria. This persecution comes in different shapes and sizes. Muslims get first consideration for political appointments before considering a Christian. The last shamble of an election that "selected" the current president has a Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket, which negates the act of inclusiveness as provided in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

So, why did I move to the United States of America? Was it a question of fleeing from the menace back home? I can't entirely agree with that because I still have my siblings, mother, friends, and loved ones back in Nigeria. I am not that self-absorbed that I would flee, leaving them behind.

My main reason for coming to the US was to further my music study in an environment where my diploma earned is seen as authentic because it is considered a "First World Country." I can attest to the extraordinary teaching I have enjoyed since my arrival. I have learned under many great professors who influenced me positively and made me see different music-making perspectives. I have also completed my Master's in Music Composition and can now proudly see myself as a composer.

However, I think a disservice has been done to Nigeria by the "First World Countries" in many ways. Sometimes, wealthier nations make unfavorable policies that do not consider the impact on other countries and their people – Including Nigeria.

Living and working in the US as a newcomer is not as easy as it seems. Not everyone is as kind to others as they should be. Immigrants have many tales of woes to tell about their experiences here. This begs the question, "Is there really a safe haven anywhere?" But we must all continue to live for tomorrow, expecting change. We all wish for a world that loves and cares, a world that has humanity at its heart, a world of justice and equity.

This brings me to the piece the UCCMA commissioned me to write. I decided to write in my native dialect to communicate my feelings and aspirations in the music. Ihunanya N'idi N'otu - Love and Unity is the title of the piece the UCCMA commissioned me to write. This song tells of the greatest of them all - LOVE. It emphasizes the need to coexist, living in mutual respect for one another. It is my greatest hope that this song would speak to the minds of all, even to the hardened hearts, to work towards rebuilding our world. ■

Innocent Okechukwu is a Nigerian composer and pianist with over a hundred compositions to his credit. Innocent has his degree in music from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), where he majored in composition with a minor in piano. He also holds an advanced certificate in piano performance from the Trinity College of London School of Music in Dubai, UAE, in 2019. Early 2022, he published his first book, Musical Echoes, a collection of his original compositions, available on Amazon. He is currently completing his Masters in Music Composition at Longy School of Music of Bard College, Cambridge, MA, and studied under Professor John Howell Morrison.

Read more about Mr. Okechukwu


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"Upright cross with outwardly widening ends. It is often seen in relics from the late antique and early medieval Byzantine Empire (until c. 800) and was adopted by other Christian cultures of the time, such as the Franks and Goths."

— Wikipedia


The first 22 years of Worship, Music & Ministry in print.

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