The presidential election on February 25, 2023, has been predicted to either make or break the destiny of the nation by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christian political figures.
At the same time, they rejected the APC’s presidential ticket for members of the same faith, calling it repugnant and wicked.
They made these remarks at a symposium on Nigeria’s leadership challenges, which took place on Wednesday in Abuja as part of events honoring CAN’s 12th General Assembly and Leadership Transition Ceremony.
Along with the CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, and representatives of various Christian groups and denominations, political figures who attended the event included Elisha Ishaku Abbo, a senator who represents Adamawa North District in the National Assembly, and former House of Representatives Speaker Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
Speaking on the symposium’s theme, “The Role of the Church In Times Like This.”
They urged important stakeholders, especially Christian youths and women, to make sure that Nigeria’s next leader upholds the values of justice, righteousness, inclusivity, and respect for the inherent diversity of the nation in order to prevent the polarization of the nation.
In his speech, Senator Abbo said: “I am known for frankness. Sometimes, it sounds insulting to some people, because when I speak the truth in its raw form without adulteration, people say I am insulting them.
“Nevertheless, the 2023 election is a make or mar poll, especially for the Christians and for everyone who loves and values the unity of Nigeria.”
He bemoaned the rising level of insecurity in the nation, warning that it might not make it through the following eight years without determined efforts to save it.
“They (terrorists) have entered Abuja. We used to think that the Federal Capital Territory is safe. That’s why many politicians no longer visit their villages again, but the bandits have now entered into Abuja.
“Nigeria cannot survive another eight years like this. However, the decision is for you, the youths and women, to save this nation (through the ballot)
“There is power in the hands of the Nigerian Christian youths and women to change things, particularly in the affairs of the nation.”
He asserts that the nation is still held together only by God’s mercy and the ongoing prayers performed at the many places of worship.
In order to achieve a favorable change in the nation’s affairs, he urged CAN to fully activate its structures and networks before to the 2023 elections, claiming that the top Christian organization already owned the most developed and organized structures in this country.
Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara said the country was experiencing humiliation, embarrassment, and dishonor on many fronts because many of those charged with leading the nation were not acting in the best interests of the nation.
He said, “I want to say emphatically that CAN’s position on the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket in this country, at this moment of national peril, is not just CAN’s or that of Engr. Babachir David Lawal, whom many have accused of being the only one who has turned it into an issue.
“I believe it (the rejection of same-faith ticket) is also the Almighty’s own position, because we serve a God of justice. He is the righteous One as well as the author of diversity, and he wants us, as diverse as we are, to come together.
“So, CAN’s stance is the position of all of us (Christian political leaders) who love righteousness, justice as well as diversity and are working to harness these for the advancement of this country.
“In as much as what we are fighting for is a godly position, every other position is ungodly. There’s no middle-way. It’s either you are for righteousness, justice and inclusivity or you are working against the unity of this great country.”
Dogara, therefore, charged Christian youths and women to relegate their individual agonies to the background and unite to take active part in politics.
He said, “To the youths and women, there are so many areas in politics you can participate in; such as organising your communities, mobilising people to register for the Permanent Voters’ Cards so that their voices can be heard in the 2023 election, contributing to political discourses and other issues of national importance by bringing your righteous views, and propounding solutions to a myriad of challenges. So, these are areas of politics that we must participate in.
“No doubts, there are always obstacles, but before you can play any of these roles, you owe a duty to seek for self-education, betterment, and improvement, because this world does not offer you anything beyond who you are. However, the joy is that we can always improve ourselves by learning.
“So, you must be fully prepared, equipped, and transformed by the mind of Christ to positively impact on our body politics. We want to see the youths and women, who are burning with the desire for justice, righteousness and inclusiveness, rise up for these qualities in our body politics.”
The CAN President also raised doubts about the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a transparent election in 2023.
“I don’t think INEC is ready for credible elections. I relocated from my former residence to a new one in the same town and reported to INEC since last year, but up till now, the Commission has not effected any update in my polling unit.
“I went again in February this year and was told that an approval has to be given from the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. Is Abuja in heaven?
“Many Nigerians perceive this as just a ploy by INEC to disenfranchise qualified voters. INEC should not be the problem between us and credible election in 2023,” he warned.
Ayokunle charged the next leadership of CAN to maintain its dignity by refraining from shameful acts.
He advised, “It is the way you present yourself that people will treat you. We have all it takes to be seen and respected in our society.
“It is a challenge for the incoming administration to positively and pragmatically project the image of CAN, because the more they do that, the better the respect they will have within the society. I pray that this atmosphere of peace will be sustained.”