By Chukwuma Umeorah
As build up to the 2023 general election continues, Churches in Nigeria have spoken with a collective voice under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Nigeria National Christian Coalition (NNCC) warning politicians and aspirants of governments positions not to run for office if they cannot be accountable to Christians and the public in their pattern of leadership. This was even as the Church urged its members to take charge of politics through active participation.
Speaking at an inter-denominational gathering of Christians in Lagos on Friday, the Chairman of CAN, Lagos State, Stephen Adegbite noted that the dynamics of politics in the country had changed, and that Christians were beginning to wake up to their political responsibilities. He said that leadership would no longer be game as usual because the church as an entity would go all out to ensure that our leaders were responsible and held accountable to Nigerians, particularly Christians who had been sidelined in for too long.
In his words, “Whoever we elect into government, be it at national or sub-national levels, must be responsible and worthy of such positions. We are going to come after our leaders this time. We won’t just elect you and leave you, we shall ensure that you must deliver. Mark my words, If you know that you are not going to deliver and held accountable, I beg you to not near power. We are going to ask you questions and you must answer us. The suffering of Nigerians is enough.”
He decried the deplorable state of the nation and assured that CAN, NNCC and other Christian bodies in the country are working tirelessly to ensure that a better Nigeria is achieved and the voice of Christians heard. Adegbite held the believe that Nigeria would be better if everyone was involved in the process of formulation of governments and its policies. “Nigeria would be better if everyone is involved. Nigerians are not asking for too much, all they seek is good governance, basic infrastructure and social benefits as it is found in other countries.”
The religious-political summit tagged “Meet the Church” organized by the Nigeria National Christian Coalition (NNCC) played host to religious leaders from several Christian denominations, government officials, politicians from diverse political affiliations and well-meaning Nigerians who converged to deliberate on ways to move the country forward.
On his part, the CAN chairman of Kaduna State, Joseph Hayab charged Christians to build strong political base by joining political parties at ward level in order to be part of critical debates and decisions as government is a powerful tool that could make or mar a nation. Referring to a bible quotation that directs Christians to submit to authority, Hayab noted that it was wrong if they abandoned politics with the impression of it being a dirty game pointing out from the scriptures that government is a divine institution of God. He said that “If we are submitting to government, then we must play our part to take over governance. We cannot submit to something that we are not part of. Our voice must be heard. We cannot belong to a country where we are only spectators. Lets us go into politics and clean it up. “
He noted that many Christians in Nigeria lacked basic political knowledge and advised that there should be deliberate efforts to be part of the process as no nation can develop under the ignorance of its people.
The Keynote speaker at the summit, Pst. Ituah Ighodalo while decry the poor state of the country said that Nigeria was burning but our leaders seemed to be pre-occupied with frivolous concerns. He adviced that sacrifices must be made for the nation to grow. While commending NNCC for the initiative, he said that the collective church must be true, speak truth to power and must agree on what is right. Likewise, he urged Christians to be politically active.
Special guest of Honour and Vice-Presidential candidate of New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), Isaac Idahosa spoke on the relevance of the summit and its timing considering the coming elections as it provided a platform for politicians and religious leaders to interface and proffer solutions to the problems of the country. While noting that the church in its numbers has the power to transform the political paradigm of the nation, he urged that Christians unite to settle their apathy as the Church can only make a change when it stops fighting itself.
Other dignitaries present at the summit were the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor, the gurbanitoral candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour among others.