Dr George Carey has today (31 January) begun his visit first ever to Nigeria, and the first by an Archbishop of Canterbury for eighteen years.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria has an estimated fifteen million adherents, making it the biggest and one of the fastest growing in the world wide Anglican Communion, which Dr. Carey leads.
During a two-week visit, one of the longest during his ten years in office, the Archbishop will travel thousands of miles across Nigeria, attending many acts of Christian worship and witness.
He will meet many of Nigeria's senior religious and political leaders and is expected to hold talk with the Nigerian President and with the Governor of the Northern State of Zamfara, where Sharia law was declared a year ago.
In remarks prepared for delivery on arrival in Abuja on Monday evening, Dr Carey said:
"I am delighted and excited to be starting my first ever visit to Nigeria. Over the next fortnight, I am looking forward hugely to meeting people from all walks of life, and learning more about the great opportunities and challenges facing this remarkable country at a vital moment in its history.
I welcome especially the opportunity to affirm the Church of Nigeria in its Christian witness, as well as to share in its worship and to support its thriving ministry in often challenging circumstances.
The goal of seeking to help improve relations between religions and faith communities on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance is one that I carry with me whenever I travel and this visit is no exception."
The last Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Nigeria was the late Robert Runcie in 1983.