The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said it would take active part in holding all public officeholders accountable more than ever before, insisting that “the era of looking the other way when the political class does little or nothing to improve the quality of life of Nigerians is gone.”
The mainstream national body for Christians in Nigeria stated this in a landmark statement on the 2019 General election made available to The Dream Daily yesterday in Abuja by Personal Adviser (Media) to the CAN President, Pastor Bayo Oladeji.
The statement was issued following Can’s meeting with no fewer than 10 presidential candidates in the 2019 elections, including President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, during which meeting the candidates were tasked to lay out their vision for the country. It was signed by Revd. (Dr.) William Okoye Revd. and (Dr.) Samson O. A. Ayokunle Chairman, CAN 2019 Presidential Aspirant Interview Committee who also doubles as National President, CAN.
The statement reads in full:
TOWARDS 2019 ELECTIONS: A STATEMENT BY THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN) ON THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at its National Secretariat on December 10, 2019, met the presidential candidates of political parties running for the presidential elections, to have an interactive session with each one of them, with the view to identifying their agenda for Nigeria if elected and getting a commitment from them on genuine national development. The meeting was prompted by the strong belief that the Church in Nigeria cannot stay aloof in the national project and has an obligation, as a major stakeholder, to be a part in the way and manner the country is governed.
The challenges facing Nigeria are enormous as they are protracted. These include insecurity, corruption, ethnic militancy, herders’ violence in the North-central states, kidnappings, ritual murders, drug abuse, poor and declining social infrastructure, among other national emergencies. The era of looking the other way when the political class does little or nothing to improve the quality of life of Nigerians is gone. The CAN leadership seeks to commit the political class to truly improving the quality of life of Nigerians in the next dispensation.
Parties, Presidential Candidates Present and Agenda :
The political parties and presidential candidates present were ten (10). These were (in alphabetical order):
Moses Shipi All Blending Party (ABP)
Obadiah Mailafia -African Democratic Party (ADP)
Fela Durotoye Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN)
Muhammadu Buhari All Progressives Congress (APC) (represented by th.Hon. Rotimi Amaechi)
Obiageli Ezekwesili Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (APCN)
John Gbor All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)
John Dara Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD)
Johnson A. Edosomwan and Nasiru Mohammed Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP)
Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Kingsley Moghalu -Young Progressive Party (YPP)
There were six (6) critical and broad-based areas of focus in the interactive session. These included: the personality and character, patriotic commitment, security agenda, economic development agenda, religious tolerance and programme for social inclusion and foreign policy.
Also, other important areas of national development explored during the chat with the candidates, were human rights, national cohesion (unity), national security, economic/infrastructural development, restructuring, a national development-based foreign policy and war on corruption.
THE POSITION OF CAN
CAN recognizes Nigeria’s multi-religious and multicultural composition and is not in denial of these realities. However, in our federal system, it is crucial for all constituents to commit to respect of the fundamental human rights of other groups as enshrined in the 1 999 Constitution. It is against this background that CAN raised serious concerns with the candidates over the sustained violent attacks on, and persecution of the Church in Nigeria today.
CAN understands that if the principle of good governance (transparency, accountability, equity, inclusiveness and consensus building) are the hallmarks of governance, it would lead to accelerated development and prosperity for the people of Nigeria. This is our sincere desire, hope and prayer.
Our expectations are that whoever emerges as president and vice-president will address the myriad of critical national concerns. In biblical times, God raised Prophets at different times to speak up against national leaders and policies that promoted injustice against the very people such leaders were called to serve. God placed the responsibility of the security and welfare of the citizens on leaders of nations. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
While CAN notes with encouragement that the candidates interviewed subscribed to its (CAN’s) values as expected of the president of the Federal Republic, it is noted too that actions should speak far louder than words if anyone of them is elected. To this end, CAN will watch closely as the character of the presidential candidates unfolds before, during and after the elections in 2019.
VOTING THE RIGHT CANDIDATES
The Christian community is deeply concerned about the misfortunes that have befallen the Nigerian state in recent years. These concerns, which must never be swept under the carpet, make the strongest case for setting a standard for how responsible and well-meaning Nigerian should vote in 2019. CAN urges all Christians to ensure they are in possession of the Voter Card (PVC). Christians should use sound judgment in voting, ensuring that sentiments are eschewed and wisdom is applied in making the decision on the ballot paper. Let us be circumspect and discretional. Above all. let the Holy Spirit of God direct you in the voting. Think about the greater good of Nigeria, and not a political party or personality.
All Christians are enjoined to remain vigilant during the voting exercise and promptly report any suspicious undertaking at voting centres. Christians are however admonished to stay away from any violent act or mob action, whatsoever, no matter the provocation. Decency, lawfulness and godliness should guide us in any act of disagreement.
The choice of CAN is any candidate who exhibits godliness, trustworthiness, sincerity of purpose, decency, patriotism, true commitment to national service and who has shown care for the Christian community over the years. Christians are called upon to vote credibly and trusted candidates into the various elective positions. We must also be discerning about their policy an the understanding of policy details.
CAN’S BENCHMARK OF COMPETENCIES FOR POLITICAL OFFICE SEEKERS
CAN has set the following benchmarks of competencies for any political office seeker in 2019:
Respect for other faiths and religious tolerance
Proven record of achievements in the field(s) of service
Sound educational background with acceptable qualifications
Visionary leadership with realistic development plan and global competition
Commitment to the rule of law and due process based on constitutional provisions
Commitment to internal and national security without recourse to ethnicity, religion or section of the country A demonstrated commitment to national cohesion or unity
Belief in equal rights and justice
Belief in the ideals of freedom and democratic tenets
A clear plan or roadmap for security, sustainable power, infrastructural and economic development and wealth generation that will guarantee prosperity for all.
CAN stands for a credible, fair and violence-free election. We urge all the aspirants to show maturity, leadership, sportsmanship and eschew electoral malpractice and violence in whatever form. They should also call their followers to order and ensure they all operate within the framework of the law. Voter intimidation and vote-buying are anathema to democratic governance and should never be allowed.
The law enforcement agencies and other election umpires are enjoined not to be partisan in any form. The peaceful elections and smooth transition of power witnessed in 201 5 should be reenacted in 2019 if new leaders are elected at any level. The Church in Nigeria through CAN is committed to praying and working earnestly towards actualizing this goal. We trust God to give Nigeria a Leader and Deliverer of his choice in 201 9.
God bless Nigeria!
Revd. (Dr.) William Okoye Revd. (Dr.) Samson O. A. Ayokunle Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) 2019 National President, Elections Presidential Aspirant Interview Committee Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)