Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Edo APC governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his manifesto, the “Simple Agenda” received the endorsement of the Coalition of Christian Leaders in the State on Monday.
The Coalition, which is made up of Pastors of Christian organisations across denominations, made public its endorsement in a communique signed by 14 eminent Church leaders at a special session in Benin City.
The signatories included that of Bishop Abraham Chigbundu of the Voice of Freedom Ministries, Pastor Dele Balogun, the Pastor in charge of Region 13 of the RCCG, Revd Jeff Iyonawan of Miracle Assembly and Bishop Iyobosa Atoe among others.
The special session featured prayers, praise and worship, an opening speech by Revd Jeff Iyonowan, an exhortation by Bishop Abraham Chigbundu, comments by the former deputy governor, Revd Peter Obadan, Barrister Emmanuel Usoh and other church leaders, culminating with the laying of hands and prayers for the victory of Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
According to the Coalition, the Simple Agenda of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a ‘plan for the developmental path of Edo State and her citizens,’ hence their call on all Christians across Edo State notwithstanding denominations to ‘vote massively for the candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu,’ in the Edo election.
The Coalition then called on parents and guardians in the State to help stem any participation of their children from any form of violence as it preaches nonviolence elections. It also called on the church and all religious leaders to continue in prayers for a peaceful election on September 19.
In an exhortation, Bishop Chigbundu, using scriptures as back up, declared that as far as the Edo governorship elections are concerned, for the Church leaders, understanding of the times and knowing what to do is key.
He said for too long the Church in Edo State has played too much to the gallery but now ‘the Church in Edo State must understand the times we are in: an opportunity again has arisen for us and we ought to know what to do. This is not about politics, church, denomination. This is about the Kingdom.’
In his remarks, Revd Peter Obadan, a former deputy governor of Edo State, said that the gathering was actually called so that Pastors present could take the message back by evangelising others whom they know and can reach but were absent about Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
‘Don’t go to your church. Go and tell the people that our brother is running; our brother is going to be governor of the State. This is what I want you to do….door to door evangelism and let every door post have POI.’
Obadan added, ‘If you live in Street A, cover the whole street. If your members cannot convert them to vote for POI, send your Pastors to go and convert them with words of wisdom. The Kingdom of God suffereth violence and only the violent taketh it by force.’
Earlier in a welcome address, Revd Jeff Iyonawan of the Miracle Assembly said Christian leaders in the state opted to get actively involved in the Edo State governorship 2020 election because ‘a politically disinterested and disengaged church is a disservice to the kingdom of God.’
The APC candidate apparently overwhelmed by the company of church leaders endorsing him and his manifesto said he was humbled especially as it was a repeat of what they did for him in 2016 when he first ran for Governor.
He commended Bishop Chigbundu, Revd Obadan and Pastor Dele Balogun, the Regional Pastor of region 13 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, describing him as his father in the Lord for the ‘uncommon support he has given,’ in mobilizing the church to support his governorship ambition.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu said it was good to know that, the church leaders realise that a Christian be in the helm of affairs in Edo State as he commended them for understanding the times and seizing the opportunity because that politics is about power, influence and money
He then spoke briefly about his manifesto, the Simple Agenda, which details his plans upon assumption of office as Edo State Governor and said that, by the grace of God, ‘I want to assure the church I will not disappoint you.’
He urged the church leaders to go back home and talk to their neighbours so that on September 19, 2020, they vote for somebody who is god-fearing, ‘somebody who has a clearcut agenda about what he wants to do. We are tired of fake promises.’
He added that the only way ‘I can thank you is to do the will of God in government,’ and ‘be your true representative in government,’ recalling how in the past he has been dependable as an appointee of government.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has tasked Christians in the State to vote for integrity, prosperity and for the continuation of the good works in the State.
Edo CAN Chairman Bishop Oriname Oyonnude Kure gave the task in Benin while addressing members of the Association ahead of the September 19 state’s governorship election.
‘Once again, we call on all believers in the state and the good people of Edo State to go to the poll and vote wisely and conscientiously without any fear or favour.
‘This is the critical moment in determining the destiny of our state, Edo State bearing in mind the very future of this State, the future of our children, integrity, the sustainability of the faith, continuity and sustainability of the developmental stride that has placed our state in an enviable position in the committee of States.
‘Once again, we urge all believers in the state to vote for the candidate of their choice and go peacefully.
‘Finally brethren, vote for integrity, vote for prosperity, and vote for the continuity of the good works in Edo State,’ the CAN chairman emphasised.
Bishop Kure, while x-raying the political ongoings in the State, said CAN is not oblivious of the political issue going on in the State, particularly between the two major political parties in preparation for the gubernatorial election which comes up on 19 September, but become worrisome to them as a body of Christ representing and protecting the interest and wellbeing of the believers whose interest and safety remain uncompromising to them as they form a large number of the electorate.
Kure said they are calling on all the political bigwigs, stakeholders and the good people of the State to take a stand that is issue-based, the political general progress and advancement of the state that is devoid of violence at this trying time to protect the destiny of the state.
Kure said it is noteworthy that the people of the State should know their value by bearing in that it is when the lives of the electorate are saved and protected that they the contesting candidates can have them to govern alive and implement their propagated manifestoes.
He said the political candidates in their campaigns, should eschew violence, acrimony and desperation but should rather pursue peace and shelve the sword of violence.
He said CAN as a religious body, condemns all actions, reactions and threat to the safety of the people adding that CAN believe that political campaigns should provide a veritable and an enabling opportunity for candidates to market their manifestoes to the electorate and explain their programmes.
He further called on the religious leaders and heads of blocs not to leave any stone unturned but to pass a congregational warning to their members against the use of violence that would cost the lives of souls in achieving the aspiration of their candidates as the soul that ‘killeth’ shall die.
He also admonished the youths who have made themselves an easy tool of violence to desist and not take the laws into their hands.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on those saddle with the responsibility of ensuring free, fair and credible election to rise up to their duty so that the state could have a peaceful election come September 19.