Politics and the Nigerian Church: The National Christian Elders Forum’s Viewpoint

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TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY CHRISTIAN SOCIAL MOVEMENT OF NIGERIA (CSMN) AND ADDRESSED BY NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM ((NCEF) ON FRIDAY 23RD NOVEMBER, 2018 AT GOSHEN LAND, IKEJA, LAGOS AT 12.00 NOON

POLITICS AND THE NIGERIAN CHURCH:

THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM’S VIEWPOINT

Politics affects the lives of all of us; it cannot become an Exclusive Preserve of a handful of Politicians.

Neutrality of the Church at “TIMES LIKE THIS” is tantamount to “Leaving the flock alone without the guidance of a Shepherd” (Mk. 6: 34)

Distinguished gentlemen of the Press,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

INTRODUCTION

I welcome you on behalf of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) to this Press Conference aimed at addressing crucial issues in the country. CSMN is the Social Arm of the Church and it was established by notable Christian leaders to facilitate Christian engagement with the society for the Common Good of all the citizens. CSMN is organizing this Press Conference today with the support and collaboration of its other arms which include National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), all the structures of the CSMN in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and Abuja as well as with the Advocates for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), which is the coalition of 61 Christian Fellowships and Groups. This Press Conference is addressed today by the National Christian Elders Forum.  (NCEF)

POLITICS AND NIGERIAN PEOPLE

On March 18, 2015, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) in an advertorial with the above caption issued an advice to Nigerian Christians concerning the 2015 General Elections. Then, Nigerian Christians were told to “vote their conscience” at the polls. Today, we all realize the folly of that exhortation. 

In the build up to the 2019 Elections, another subtle manipulation is creeping into the polity. Nigerians are being told to choose between the “lesser of two evils”. This is dangerous. Why is Nigeria being offered “two evils” as options? The National Christian Elders Forum rejects any evil and insists that “evil” should not be an option for Nigerians anymore. The people have suffered long enough and politicians should no longer take the patience and perseverance of Nigerians for granted. Rather than propose “two evils” for Nigerians to choose from, NCEF proposes “righteousness” as the flagstaff for New Nigerian President. Henceforth, Nigerians should embrace truth and righteousness that will promote peace and prosperity for all.


NCEF believes that it does not make sense that a nation of 200 million people is unable to find a “righteous” man/woman to lead if we are determined to promote righteousness in Nigeria. Yes, We Can.

Since Nigerians have been offered a choice between “two evils”, NCEF suggests that the third option should be a   “righteous” leader from any part of the country. NCEF is not unmindful of the zoning arrangement practiced by politicians but makes the case that such arrangement is the Parties internal affair. It is not a Constitutional provision. Zoning of political offices does not have backing as Federal Character under the Constitution, which is even ignored by the present Federal Government. Under the circumstances, Nigerians are not bound to stick with zoning arrangement. More so, the far North provided leadership from 2015 to 2019. Therefore, there should be no reason for anyone to insist that the President cannot come from another part of the country in 2019. Second term is only granted if there is good performance during the first term. The 1999 Constitution Section 14 (2)(b) states: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government:” In this regards, both  PDP and APC did not perform  creditably well.

The NCEF agrees with the Vision of a New Nigeria come 2019 and the Mission of a New Government, committed to halt the drift of the nation into chaos and anarchy, and proposes for Nigerians to THINK NEW. They must begin to clamor for new candidates and new political parties. It is not too late to mobilize and dismiss the current political class that devalued Naira by over 1,600% from 1999 to 2018 and, at the same period, increased the price of fuel by 625%. Jointly, PDP and APC impoverished and pauperized Nigerians and turned the country into the poverty capital of the world. It makes sense to reject the two frontline Parties, APC and PDP, for lack of credible performance.

NCEF is persuaded that the Nation should feel compelled, within the next few months, to look in another direction for its salvation. If that is not done, Nigerians would have willingly jumped from the fire into the furnace. We are already sensitized as to what is ahead with the slogan - “two evils.” 

NCEF is convinced that if Nigerians are truly desirous of Good Governance, then all Nigerians have need to be diligent to look outside of these two major parties. NCEF postulates that based on facts and perception, it is almost impossible for PDP, as presently constituted, to remove APC at any election. This assertion, as offensive as it might sound to some people, is affirmed by these experiences:

 In Edo Governorship election in 2016, PDP won but APC took the victory.

 In Ondo in 2017, the same incident took place; 

 In Ekiti in 2018, the same pattern was repeated; and 

 In Osun, the election clearly won by PDP was declared “inconclusive” and rerun produced the loser as the winner.

 This pattern may be repeated in 2019. Therefore, NCEF is uncomfortable with the growing interference of Security and Intelligence Arm of the Executive in politics, elections etc especially from 1999. To check the menace, NCEF feels persuaded to remind Nigerians of the weapon of “Public Outcry” used to remove Babangida in 1993 and PDP in 2015. Nigerians have need to raise political discourse to the level of an outcry such that APC itself would realize, like Babangida and PDP, that it has become unacceptable by an overwhelming majority of Nigerians for lack of performance in critical areas of life and security.

However, this outcry can only work if a totally NEW candidate is promoted. The likelihood that APC would agree to do what Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015 by handing over power to prevent bloodshed is very remote. As far as APC is concerned, PDP is not different from it. So, why should Nigerians reject them and go for PDP, after all, they are birds of the same feather. Public Outcry for a righteous Presidential Candidate is the only available peaceful solution.

Nigerians have to stop the attitude of “business as usual”. A good definition of insanity by Albert Einstein is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result.” NCEF is calling on Nigerians to THINK NEW and develop new mindset. What Nigeria needs are New Leaders, New Faces, New Methods, New Political Parties, so that a New Nation can emerge.

NCEF Supports a Righteous Presidential Candidate for the following reasons:

 

  1. 1.    We thank God that notwithstanding Nigeria’s problems - Boko Haram, Herdsmen, Violation of the Constitution, and extreme poverty in the land, no full scale war has been declared, rather the 2019 Election has provided opportunity for non-violent political contests for political leadership.
  2. 2.   We thank our Religious Leaders who have been calling out to Nigerians to participate in partisan politics. This has become urgent because since amalgamation, the Middle Class in Nigeria has taken political leadership for granted even with over 30 years of military rule that paved the way for a dual conflicting national ideology to emerge, that   is, Democracy and Sharia - two opposing political doctrines that are putting great strain on the unity and survival of the country. The introduction of an alternative form of legislation in competition with the Nigerian Constitution is at the root of the unwarranted crisis in the country. Democracy and Sharia are mutually exclusive ideologies and are incompatible.
  3. 3.    Nigeria is currently structured to favor domination of one Ethnic Nationality and the supremacy of one religion over the others. A minority rule of one ethnic group and one religion is threatening the survival of a secular state made up of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi religious groups. The determination of a minority group to transform Nigeria into its “colony” is responsible for the chaos in the country. Nigerians now query why one ethnic group should insist that leadership is its exclusive preserve? 
  4. 4.   NCEF insists, in agreement with other well meaning Nigerians that Restructuring the country must be a cardinal campaign issue for the 2019 Elections. Therefore, the Christian Elders emphasize the need to draw up a Charter of Agreement to be signed by Presidential Candidates complete with timelines for implementation. This should be a major pre-condition for those soliciting votes from Nigerians. Of course, no promise from the current government should be taken seriously by anyone. NCEF shall draw up its Charter of Agreement and encourage other credible groups to do the same. 
  5. 5.   The NCEF agrees completely with the US, EU, and other nations that issued the warning to the Police and DSS that “the fundamental role of security agencies is providing safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their democratic rights. It is vital that the security agencies act, and are seen to act in an impartial manner that maintain a high standard of professional conduct.” It is not democratic for security agencies to participate in determining the result of elections and in some cases, overruling INEC, which has been the case since 1999 contrary to the wishes of the electorates.
  6. 6.   One of the greatest obstacles to genuine democracy in Nigeria is Christian collaborators who support Islamists. Nigerians are persuaded that the Christian collaborators are motivated by greed and covetousness; not withstanding that by their actions, they promote minority rule of one ethnic group and one religion in a secular state made up of divergent cultures and religions. 
  7. 7.   We thank all the new Presidential Candidates, (Some of their names are listed below.) for their courage to come forth to contest notwithstanding their meager source of finance. NCEF encourages Nigerians to evaluate these new candidates and agree to which one best serves the needs of the country. These are very competent people who have offered to provide quality righteous leadership for Nigeria.
  8. 8.   The 2019 election is very crucial for the survival of Nigeria. It should not be won by the same selfish group of people so that Nigeria may not become a fascist state. Therefore, NCEF calls on the Middle Class, irrespective of religion, tribe, ethnicity or gender, to become actively involved in the process of electing a new President for Nigeria in 2019. The Middle Class holds the key to the outcome of this election as it stands between the elites and the grass root.
  9. 9.  NCEF is aware that a lot of financial transaction is going on concerning 2019 elections. This is very sad. Nigerians should remember that those who collected such money in 2015 did not prosper from it. Today, they are suffering like every other Nigerian that did not collect the money. In fact, those who chanted CHANGE in 2015 did not experience any change at all. Therefore, NCEF calls on Nigerians to shun financial inducement or display of sentiment in electing people into office. Nigerians should begin to play politics based on merit. This is in our collective interest.
  10. 10.   NCEF proposes a harmonization meeting, if requested, with new Presidential Candidates so that a viable single option can be presented to the nation to contest against the two major parties. The harmonization is crucial to prevent all these candidates from dividing their votes thereby returning a corrupt and incompetent government to power by default. NCEF calls on all the Presidential Candidates to put the country first and above personal ambitions if indeed, they are contesting based on altruistic motives.
  11. 11.  Finally, NCEF calls on all Nigerians especially those who act as Islamist collaborators and, by their actions, compromise democracy for a few pieces of silver, to back off in the interest of coming generations. These collaborators have made it difficult and unfortunate for Nigeria to develop from 3rd world to first world as Singapore, India, China, Brazil, etc. NCEF also recognizes that not all Muslims in Nigeria are in support of this macabre dance of death that is threatening to tear Nigeria into shreds. This is the time for our shared humanity and common citizenship to enable us rise above primordial survival instincts. We can turn Nigeria into paradise on earth, but first, we must all realize that we share the same humanity and equal citizenship.

   

SOME OF THE ALTERNATIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

·  Professor Kingsley Moghalu, YPP

·  Rev. Prof. Yusuf Ameh Obaje, ANDP

·  Mr. John Dara, ASD

·  Hon. Edozie Madu, IDP 

·  Professor Peter Nwangwu, We Are the People of Nigeria Party

·  Mr. Samuel Eke, GPNB

·  Dr. Kriz David, Liberation Movement

·  Mr. Ojinka Geff Chizee, C4C 

·  Mr. Eke Sam Chukwuma, GPN

· Mr. Fela Durotoye, ANN

· Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, ACPN,

· Rev David Ize-Iyamu, BNPP

· Mr. Victor Okhai, PPC

· Gen Gbor, APGA 

· Mr. Donald Duke, SDP

· Mr. Omoyele Sowore, AAC

· Mr. Nwokeafor Ike Ndubuisi, ACD

· Mr. Donwubuya John A, FJP 

· Dr. (Mrs) Helen Godswill Solomon, PRP

·   Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, ADC 

·   Prof. (Mrs) Funmi Adesanya-Davies, MAJA

·   Mr. Eguzolugo Chikendu Chukwu, JMPP

·   Mr. Nwachukwu Chucks Nwabukwu, AGA

·   Mr. Asukwo Mendie Archibong, NDP

·   Mr. Franks Ukonga, DA

·   Mr. Ikeagwuonu Obinna Uchechukwu, APP

 The “appropriate” body to issue the above statement is the Body of Christ in Nigeria – One Church. NCEF has done this in the notch that “Nature Avoids Vacuum” and guided by the Holy Spirit on behalf of men and women of goodwill in all faith and religion for the progress of Nigeria and the Black Race.

CONCLUSION

NCEF affirms that a New Nigeria is possible. A Nigeria that is peaceful, prosperous and progressive is possible in our generation. However, Nigerians must first develop a new mindset. The first step is to develop new standards for our leaders. NCEF is calling on every Nigerian to THINK NEW. Nigerians must deliberately cultivate and nurture a new generation of leaders.

In support of protest against bloodshed in the country, NCEF supports a WALK FOR PEACE organized by Builders of New Nigeria (BNN) in Lagos on 29th November, 2018. We must all protest against the wanton murder of people all over the country, particularly in the Middle Belt. It would amount to criminal negligence on the part of every Nigerian if we do not condemn what is going on and send strong signals to Government that its performance is most unsatisfactory.

Finally, NCEF calls on all Nigerian Christians to join in the activities of Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN). The Church must make positive impact on the society and play its role as the light of the world and the salt of the earth. The evils and the corruption taking place in Nigeria give the impression that there are no Christians in this country. You can register to join CSMN at www.csmnigeria.org As Christians we must be relevant to our society in good works and noble deeds. Join the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) and let us lift the banner of Christ and confirm through good works that Jesus Christ reigns in Nigeria.

God bless Nigeria.

Solomon Asemota                                                                                        Bosun Emmanuel

Chairman, NCEF                                                                                           Secretary, NCEF

Chairman, Christian Social Movement of Nigeria                                  CEO, CSMN

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