The 2023 elections are getting close with their gyrations, gymnastics and drama, especially with the presidential election.
The religious faultlines of Nigeria are being played up against the other, contrary to the doctrines of all faiths. All the faiths preach the brotherhood of mankind, even if through different routes. Our Lord Jesus Christ that we all follow as Christians preaches this to us. The same is preached by the Great Prophet Mohammed (SAW), father of the Islamic faith. Therefore, whatever is done against this cardinal principle of these great men by their followers and adherents must have been borne out of human frailties and foibles.
It is therefore surprising that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) are ranged against the All Progressive Congress (APC), for the reason that it has picked a northern Muslim, Senator Kashim Shettima as its Vice Presidential Candidate to pair with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, its presidential candidate, also a Muslim.
The CAN and PFN are carrying out this campaign with disregard for members of their congregations who are loyal members of the APC.
They have supposedly, come out with a Communique setting out conditions for Christians as to what and who their members should vote for in 2023 because of the Muslim/Muslim ticket of the APC.
As genuine as their concerns and anxieties are in view of the escalating contradictions in every aspect of Nigeria’s life, especially in religion, as a Christian, I’m unable to come to terms with this position for various reasons.
To my mind, CAN and PFN appear to have been overcome and overwhelmed by emotions instead of the preaching in the scriptures, of tolerance, love and brotherhood known to christianity. I think there is a missing link here which may in the long, be deleterious to the Christian faith.
At this junction what is needed is strategic planning and thinking.
The duo organizations appear to have forgotten that we are in a democracy where everyone has his or her say, while the majority has its way. This is the logical consequence of political equality which is the entitlement of all citizens.
The question to first ask is: if they must insist on Christian involvement in politics, what mobilization did CAN and PFN as bodies, make for their own Christian brothers and sisters in the build up to the democratic process that led to the emergence of candidates in the various contests?
Politics like any other creation of God is divinely ordained for man to participate in order to organize themselves. It is to be noted that power is not served a la carte.
Secondly, the two organizations have not considered the members of their congregations who’re members of the APC. These members, under no condition will listen to their preachment. This is because their ideological and even religious orientations resonate with and tied to their party, hence their participation in partisan politics.
These members contribute materially and in all positive manners to the survival and well-being of the two organizations. Are these members now orphaned? Members of congregations supply some of the men of God with survival lines through their sweat from their vocations. These vocations include politic. The reverse is not the case. Indeed some of the men of God live in extreme luxury at the expense of both the hoi polio and the rich members of congregations.
Another point to make is that, is the body of Christ itself united without denominations and sects? They’re not. They compete among themselves.
With all due respect, some of the Pastors only engage in the pedagogy of Christianity rather than the real focus on God and eternity.
I think it’ll be in the interest of CAN, PFN and all of us, to interrogate the trajectories and antecedents of the duo candidates.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima were each, Governors of their states for eight years. What proven religious bias(es) of their Muslim faith did they use against the other faiths when they were in the saddle in their respective states of Lagos and Bornu? Nobody has pointed to one. Asiwaju’s political life has taken humanity as his focus of governance, hence his landmark achievements and legacies in Lagos State, even after leaving power since 2007. Thesame goes for his vice, Shettima.
Some of our CAN and PFN members had been and still are beneficiaries of the developmental policies of the two while in office, yet they are emotively against them as if they are the cause of the religious faultlines of Nigeria.
Asiwaju, a Muslim, has not islamised his family where his wife is an ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a church arguably the largest single congregation of Christians in Nigeria today. Neither has it been proven that his vice, Shettima, brought Boko Harram, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and religious fundamentalism to Nigeria?
The two organizations have not told us how the respected Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a Pastor of the RCCG has been able to stem the tide of the fears of PFN and CAN.
The two organizations are not campaigning for the restructuring and reordering of Nigeria, which essentially and fundamentally are what we need now. They’re are addressing the effects, leaving the fundamental causes of our debacle. It should be known that when you remove the fundamental causes, the effects will go or abate.
What I think is to be done by the CAN and PFN; and indeed all Nigerians with the fait accompli of the Muslim Muslim ticket of Asiwaju and Shettima, is to campaign that these fundamentals are addressed if this country must move forward.
In the interim however, they should engage the candidates to obtain assurances of good governance in all its ramifications. These two men are known for it. They should ask the candidates to grow the economy rather than big Mosques and Churches. They should ask for a New Deal and a Marshall Plan to reconstruct Nigeria; reverse for instance, the trend that South Africa shouldn’t have bigger businesses in Nigeria as Nigerians have bigger Churches in South Africa; that Nigeria is genuinely made a secular and multi ethnic nation rather than playing one religion and region against the other; and so on, and so forth.
Our last line is an advice to CAN and PFN: not all Christians will obey them on election day. I will not, God being my Helper. And I will enter the Kingdom of God in JESUS Mighty Name. Amen.
*Olu Uji writes from Ekiti