Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A clergyman Rt Rev (Dr) Justus Mogekwu has called out critics of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the group’s overt political activism.
Critics in some parts of the country recently urged CAN to restrict itself to religious matters and refrain from politics.
But Mogekwu, who is Bishop of Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion, disagreed with the critics, noting that aside from other functions, CAN remains the political arm of the church in Nigeria, a position he insisted was not negotiable.
Speaking in Asaba, the cleric maintained that CAN is committed to the wellbeing of the Christian faithful, and that the body’s opinions about matters that affect its followers in the country should be respected.
The bishop explained that CAN is concerned about the political happenings in the country to the extent of the role that Christians play in politics and how political leaders manage the affairs of those who elected them into office.
“That you are a Christian, therefore, does not mean that you should shut out on the political issues of the country,” he stated.
He said in the history of the church all over the world, “you cannot separate religion from politics. Therefore, for anybody to criticise CAN for having a say in the political issues of Nigeria would amount to living in a world of ignorance.
“And for the benefit of those who may not know, Muslims in Nigeria have their own equivalent of CAN, which in this regard, is Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), and has over the years been interested not only in the religious matters of Muslims but in political matters as they affect Muslims.
“Therefore, as equal stakeholders in the Nigeria project, CAN is interested in the political future and wellbeing of Christians and would do everything within the Christian dictates and the law of the land to protect the political interests of Christians in the country,” the bishop said.
Bishop Mogekwu condemned the spate of murders and harassment of Christians in parts of northern Nigeria, warning that as a non-violent religion, the humility and tolerance of Christians should not be taken for granted.
He noted that Christianity respects the sanctity of human life, explaining that no man, group, government or religion has the right to take life created by God.