Bishop Taiwo Akinola, Presiding Bishop of Rhema Christian Church (RCC&T) World-Wide, has urged Nigerians to rather vote for credible candidates who have merits irrespective of their political affiliations.
He spoke on the sideline of the Bethel Day Peace Service, which was the Grand-Finale of the Church’s annual New Year prayer and fasting.
The 2019 elections are here, what is your take?
We consider it a moral necessity to speak to the Nigerian electorate at this crucial period when our great nation is getting set to prepare for another chapter in her history. In a few weeks from now, hopefully, the elections will begin and leaders will emerge at all levels of governance. Certainly, as it should be expected, dynamics will change and whether we like it or not, the changes will be apparent even in the tiniest details of our national
As the Nigerian teeming electorate decide who will rule them from May 29 2019 by February 16, the electorate must ponder very well on their individual decisions as to who and who should lead them for another period of four years!
I hereby appeal to all Nigerians who are qualified to do so to endeavour to fully participate in these forthcoming elections. The time for indifference is past. Ignorance is tantamount to suicide; hence we should bring ourselves to a level of critical consciousness of people and occurrences that are related to the elections. Our involvement should take us to the point of voting physically on the election days. Please let nothing prevent you from being patient enough to cast your vote properly.
Meanwhile, we’re fully aware that political propaganda is usually at their apogee during election seasons such as these, with accusations and counter-accusations flying across the entire political space. Even then, as far as I am concerned, we know that almost all political gladiators live in glass houses, and I honestly wonder why they’re always quick in throwing stones.
As citizens, the responsibility is ours to remain focused, unperturbed and clear-headed to make the right choices, knowing that the impacts of our choices today can be far reaching on our destiny and that of our children tomorrow. And, just like Aristotle said: ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ We don’t really have to be swayed by any sugar-coated mouth of any party apologetic, but should stand firm to uphold what is true, right and fair to all. As hinted earlier on, and as lawful citizens of this blessed country, Nigeria, our choices are very crucial to our destinies. Hence, we must get actively involved in acquiring facts that can help us in making informed choices. See, our choices will either make or break us sooner or later, thus we must be very wise in all our dealings, especially in our choices of political leadership. The truth is that many of the contestants take the election as a matter of life and death, while the generality of the people trivialise it.
What should the electorate be looking for in deciding who to vote for?
They must vote for men of Godly character and competences. At this stage, I feel like reminding us of an English maxim which says, ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’ In agreement with this maxim, George Horne also wrote, ‘When a man deceives me once, it is his fault; when twice, it is mine.’ Simply put: after being tricked once, one should learn from one’s mistakes and avoid being tricked in the same way again. You must sit back and ponder well on the character traits of the people you wish to give your votes to.
Meanwhile, I find the following golden scriptural passages as necessary and important guidelines to follow in choosing the right candidates: Proverbs 14:34
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 29:2 ‘When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.’ My counsel here is that we all should remember that leopards don’t change their spots, just like the Ethiopian cannot change his skin. Even when bleaching agents are applied, the dark pigmentations of their native colours will still remain here and there. Yes, by the actions we take at this time, we can ameliorate the consequences of the errors of the past and chart a new course for our great nation. Remember that an opportunity like this will come again only in the next four years, and to shock you, it may never even come for a long time if we make a set of wrong choices now.
In our well considered opinion, party politics as currently practiced in Nigeria must no longer be our strict and primary focus because party membership is actually too fluid, and hopping from one party to another has become too rampant in the Nigerian context today. Hence, there are no clear-cut ideological or behavioral differences between many of the registered parties in Nigeria today. Besides, I have keenly observed that party politics nowadays seems to blind the eyes of many card-carrying members of the respective political parties, and also deaden their consciences. Therefore, it is my opinion that people of goodwill should lay it to their hearts to vote for the candidate of their choices based on individual merits, irrespective of political leanings. We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated or manipulated by forces that are evil, wicked or greedy, as are notorious in party politics in Nigeria today.
In this manner, I must advise that no one should be careless, blind or blinded by vote-selling in considering issues that are pointers to a future that could rubbish the sovereignty of the nation, the diverse interests of the indestructible units and inalienable rights of the individual. Those who sell their votes should know they are not only mortgaging their consciences, but also selling their future and the future of their children. In fact, they are also selling their moral rights to demand accountability from the political class whenever they derail and disappoint the electorates as they often do.