The 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has shunned Nigeria in his first official trip to Africa.
The pope is said to have decided not to step into Nigeria stemming from numerous attack of Islamist sect, Boko Haram. According to The Vatican, instead of coming to Nigeria, the pope will be visiting Kenya, Uganda and Central Republic. He will be meeting with slum dwellers and refugees. He will also call for dialogue between Christians and Muslims when he visits these three aforementioned African countries next month.
He is billed to have a two-day stay in the state capitals of each of the countries he visits. This is the pope’s first visit to Africa and he is all out to have as many inter-religious meetings as possible. Since his election as the first Latin American pope, Francis has met the most needy on each of his 10 foreign tours. In Nairobi, he will visit Kangemi, a slum that is home to 650,000 people. He will say a Mass at a university in the capital.
In Uganda, Pope Francis is scheduled to pay a visit to the home for the disabled in Nalukolongo while his last stop is Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, where the centrepiece of his visit to a country plagued by inter-communal violence is a meeting with Muslim leaders in the Koudoukou mosque.
This adds to the numerous times Nigeria has been sidelined from receiving important international figures. President Barack Obama sidelined the vast nation on his first African trip as head of state in 2009. Instead he visited Nigeria’s shrimp-sized neighbour, Ghana, where he lauded the smaller country’s democratic achievements. Obama also left Nigeria out again in his 2013 visit to Africa.