The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Most Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Okoh has called on all Nigerians to believe and constantly pray for the nation, as God is intentional about the all-round blessing and upliftment of Nigeria. This was part of his sermon delivered at the Inter-denominational Church Service to mark Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Anniversary, held yesterday at the National ecumenical Centre, Abuja.
Archbishop Okoh in his sermon titled: “The Righteous Shall Rule the Land”, urged Nigerians to understand that “all politicians are not the same”, thereby encouraging them to ensure they vote for quality leadership in the forthcoming elections.
He also emphasized that despite all the security, economic and social challenges being experienced by the country, there was so much to appreciate God for especially for the uninterrupted democracy since 1999.
The CAN President called on all eligible voters to jealously guard their permanent voters’ cards and to those who were yet to receive theirs, he advised that they do so in order to be fit to exercise their civic responsibility at the polls in the 2023 general elections. He further called on the government to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all the necessary support needed to conduct credible elections come 2023.
Also in attendance were the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, Service Chiefs, Representatives from all arms of government and the diplomatic community.
In his address, Prof Osinbajo said a prayer for the peace and progress of the nation taking his reference from the book of the Bible, Deuteronomy 33:25, “as your days, so shall your strength be”, expressing hope that Nigeria will surmount all the challenges bedeviling her to become a prosperous nation.
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the menace of insecurity challenges occasioned by the criminal activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in the country as the biggest threat to the next year general election.
The CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle made this assertion on Tuesday evening in an interactive session which some Christian leaders had with the European Union Delegation led by the EU Chief Election Observer, Ms. Maria Arena who are on a mission to the country from 1-5 March in preparation for the coming general election observation.
The EU Delegation wanted to know the position of the Association on the preparation of all the stakeholders – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and the political parties.
Dr. Ayokunle who also doubles as the Co-Chairman of the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) explained that the security situation in the country might not allow the general election to be credible, free and fair if the voters are not allowed to go out to exercise their inalienable rights because of fear of being harmed or kidnapped or killed.
“We call on the Federal Government and the security agencies to wake up to the security challenges in the country where terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are operating with impunity and nowhere is safe and secure again. If the trend continues, many voters may not participate and the outcome of the election may not be credible,” the CAN President said.
He observed that the government appears to be struggling to nip the ugly situation in the bud, their present effort is far from being enough. We have been strugglingwith this situation now for the past thirteen years, yet, we are still where we are!
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be apolitical in the assignment and asked the members of the commission who are card carrying members of the ruling party to step down or be flushed out in order to avoid compromised election results.
Ayokunle tasked INEC to borrow a leaf from its counterpart in Gambia where their recently conducted elections were far better than Nigeria’s elections. All election observers, including All Africa Conference of Churches’ delegation that he led there adjudged the election to be credible.
According to him, ‘Gambia’s elections were more credible, free and fair. It was also free from security harassment and there was a level playing field for all the parties involved.’ ‘We are supposed to be doing better because we have more resources and more capacity than Gambian.’
The CAN President who disclosed that CAN has no candidate for the office of the President however reiterated the position of the Association on the need to have a Christian President as the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Muslim and would have spent eight years in office by the time he is handing over to the next president.
According to him, “Although Nigeria is practicing democracy but because of our peculiarities which include multicultural, multi-tribal, and multi-religious nature, ours should be a ‘home grown democracy’ where every divide should be given a sense of belonging. Even if the constitution is silent on the six geopolitical zones rotational representation, the political parties should be wise enough to make use of it in sharing the leadership positions. We have warned all political parties against fielding either Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian Presidential candidates. Since President Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim from the North, in the interest of equity, fairness, social justice and cohesion, the next President should be a Christian from the South”.
After the interactions, the leader of the delegation, Ms Maria Arena thanked the leadership of CAN for honouring their invitation and promised to be carrying the Association along in their assignments.
Meanwhile, the CAN President, Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle has advised all churches in Nigeria to make the first week of March a WEEK OF SOUL WINNING. He urged all churches under the umbrella of the Association to be using the week as a period of soul winning so that bloodletting and all other crimes might reduce. He urged Christians to share their faith, their testimonies and spread the gospel of God’s love and mercy to all who have not known the Lord through Jesus Christ. preach the Kingdom of God to the world.