A visit to Ibadan on Wednesday, 16th November 2022 was initiated to pledge my loyalty to CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) leadership in Oyo state. It was indeed a very refreshing moment as we spoke extensively on the state of the nation. From the prophetic came words beyond what the streets can fathom nor the public digest. I would rather be quiet until the appointed time. As it is written in the Holy Book “the vision is for an appointed time, though it tarries, wait for it”. We will wait till 25th February 2023 to see what God will say unto us. As ever, I remain a steward of the church on the side of reality with the required strategies that are needed to navigate this season. The leadership of Oyo state’s CAN with their ever listening ears were attentive and responsive. The church must meet with all, give all equal chance and stick to pointers it has earlier communicated for guiding christians to make informed choices. She must negotiate with all. I left there to see one of the fathers of the faith of a persecuted church in Nigeria, particularly their northern branches, a Christian apologist who led the church through Aregbesola’s APC championed war of Islamization in Osun state. I was shocked, and humbled when Baba turned to me and asked; who should we vote for? Who are the ‘we’ Sir? He said, the church! The acknowledgement and appreciation of my little labour for the church of Jesus in Nigeria dawned on me. I felt like a little boy whose daddy had his hand hidden to his back who in expectation of lashes of cane got the gift of a candy. You will live long for the church was my response. I have only one vote sir and you can tell it’s not for me to decide, if the kingdom must be sought first. To the kingdom goes my vote. The nation of my dream which I desire to bequeath to my children. A Nigeria that works where all will be free to practice their religions shall have my vote and should be for any King and his domain minding Christian.
My analysis on all the candidates still stands. I placed all the odds on the table as gathered from the opinions of the older generation in the church against the Church youths’ preferred candidate of Obi. Insinuation of his wife being a member of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star founded by Olumba Olumba Obu which is an estranged denomination of the Church family, this I say with all due respect to the denomination, but that is the larger church perspective. The fear created among old pentecostals of him being a Catholic and not born again. Of course reference to the war of attrition between his denomination and the Anglicans in the South East is also championed by some older Anglicans. Furthermore, the claim of the old and spirituals about his membership of the Jesuits is been raised as a concern among people who don’t know what Jesuit means. The divide seems to be generational. These are the realities that have become the sponsored narrative among christians against Obi’s candidacy. Should they be ignored? I don’t think so! whatever Jesuit means, all Catholics should make an open discussion before things become “had I known”! Every opposition in politics is a potential advantage to repositioning and when properly managed, the cast away can become the Chief Corner Stone.
A lesson however should be taken from the British who care less about what their new young Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak of Indian descent worshiped at the entrance of 10 Downing Street, because it is his personal affair. His burden with the citizen is the oath of office and the duties he must uphold without compromise.
Public oppositions are surmountable by a single process: glean opinions by listening to the people, think through their fears, engage with them through effective political communication, allay their fears and move with them. Even the devil will have some votes if this model is adopted but that is where spirituality comes in, to help discern the spoken words and unspoken words of politicians, so we can stay protected from enticing words spoken in insincerity.
For as the scripture says, the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it.
Our experiences of unspoken words of APC against what was spoken to us in 2015 should be enough reason to exercise caution when dealing with politicians.
While I was busy pledging my support in Ibadan, a cast away political stone was busy engaging with the Christian Association of Nigeria wooing and toasting the church to give him a chance in the coming election.
Let me commend the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, led by Archbishop Daniel Okoh, who didn’t close their doors against the candidate of APC, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu in spite of his Muslim/Muslim ticket which doesn’t come to Christians as a surprise because he made his preference for One of same faith to share the ticket with him a public knowledge before the race started. The maturity of CAN leadership is better appreciated when he insinuated that competence was the reason for the choice of Shettima, making it look like there is no single competent Christian in the whole of Northern Nigeria. To err they say is human and to forgive is divine. Tinubu seems to have been forgiven.
Unlike his Ibadan meeting with the immediate past leadership of CAN which was like a Nicodemus nocturnal call on Jesus, the Abuja meeting allowed for media presence. The press release from Tinubu’s Media Office, signed by Tunde Rahman and dated Nov. 16, 2022, provided the public, clues into what must have transpired at BAT’s meeting with CAN leadership:
“The presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, assured the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria that he will not run his administration on the basis of religion if elected President of Nigeria.
Tinubu in an interactive session assured them that the same way his administration did not discriminate against anyone either based on tribe, religion or gender when he was Lagos Governor, he wouldn’t start such in office as president.
Information made available through the press release revealed that he was accompanied to the session by his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Presidential Running mate, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, House of Representatives Speaker Alhaji Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors Hope Uzodinnma (Imo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara), Deputy Senate Leader Senator Boroffice Ajayi, Senate Chief Whip Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume and many others.
The leadership of CAN under new President Daniel Okoh presented a charter of demands and issues to the APC presidential candidate.
They demanded among others state police or a decentralized policing system, devolution of power to states, equal rights for all religions and their adherents, right to self-determination by all ethnic groups, right to control natural resources by communities that bear them, no to open grazing, and equitable electoral system that guarantees the right to vote and be voted for by all.
Tinubu gave a robust assurance to the seating.
SURE-P, a policy for which PDP was demonized and Nigeria occupied by sponsored elements of the Lagos state government till Jonathan was sent packing seems to have been duplicated by BAT:
“We shall end the fuel subsidy because it has become an unproductive policy favouring an elite that needs no favours while giving the people precious little. Funds that were previously used for the subsidy will be invested in public transportation and other infrastructure, education, and health.
Tinubu didn’t state when fuel subsidy became unproductive, which should have communicated his sincerity on the policy given that Oando which belongs to Wale Tinubu has been part of the subsidy fraud according to Buhari in 2014, who got to power but continued with the scam.
Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen and others responsible for insecurity were not spared by Tinubu this time around, he called them EVIL GROUP: “On security, we will not relent until terrorists, kidnappers and criminals quit their malign ways or are completely defeated. We shall augment our security forces and use advanced technology to track and defeat these *evil groups*,” he added.
Tinubu no doubt made a strong case for himself and particularly Shettima, he reeled out his policies in skillfully crafted political communication.
He pulled the rug off the dancing floor of Muslim/Muslim ticket, though, there wasn’t anything in his presentation that assured us that the future doesn’t hold a worse persecution for christians. We are practically left with watching and praying until other Candidates and Parties come to make their offers to CAN and this shouldn’t be limited to the front liners, but all, as the case was in the house of Jesse.
In our pack of candidates are the good, the bad and the ugly. It is therefore the responsibility of CAN to spell out what to look out for in them from the binoculars of God’s word to help Christians see clearly what the future will likely be under the ONE MAN who fits into the principles to be enumerated, so that Christians can identify their president without much ado. Taking example from:
1Samuel 16:18 (NHEB)
Then one of the young men answered, and said, “look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, and a mighty man of valour and a warrior, and articulate in speech, and a handsome man, and the Lord is with him.
We mustn’t forget that the 18th verse was the result of a headhunting process activated before all to seek out just ONE MAN in verse 16, of chapter 16, of 1 Samuel.
The following areas at guiding the church to make an informed choice is very critical:
1. Charisma and Character: He, like David the son of Jesse, must be ONE MAN with capacity (skill) for the job want done.
2. A mighty man of valour: healthy and physically strong enough for the job with a matching antecedent or track record.
3. Articulate in speech, friendliness or approachability.
Our fathers, Bishop David Oyedepo, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Prof Yusuf Obaje and the then National Secretary of PFN Bishop Emmanuel Nuhu Kure who visited President Umar Musa Yardua on his sick bed when he was brought back to the Villa in February 2010 after about 3 months of medical tourism in Saudi Arabia must be reminded the cost in monetary terms and otherwise of his sickness to the nation, the political instability experienced and the set back caused by it are factors that CAN must carefully consider in our present dilemma.
A sick candidate needs healing and not our votes whatever our fathers can do to help any sick candidate must be done now! 25th February is a date to choose among the healthy, lively and abled.
We all must be reminded of the embarrassment of the report that greeted President Buhari’s visit to President Trump, which stated that he never wanted to meet another “lifeless” President.
Over 60 billion naira is believed to have been consumed by the present APC President on medical tourism, whereas what is keeping the Academic Staff Union of University at a crossroads with the government is just about 40 Billion naira of Earned Academic Allowances which the federal government agreed to pay in 2020 but has only released about 22 Billion, this is coming amidst the hues and cries of lecturers who claimed to have received half salaries after their 8 month old strike action was called off. The world mustn’t be given reason to be worried about us as a result of another sick President. We must ask questions on the financial commitment of Anambra state to Obi’s health since he left office, I am sure Soludo will be too glad to oblige us. Same must be extended to Sanwo-Olu to provide Lagos tax payers commitment to Bola Ahmed Tinubu if any. Like every other past Governor in the state, he is due for 6 cars every 3 years without the cost for each car stated, of all the emoluments attached to him as former Governor.
Of interest above all should be our commitment to his medicare to the state, which is stated on the severance term without a specific limit. Kano should come handy with same on Kwankwaso and Buhari led Presidency should provide same on his former Vice President Atiku. Lagos state may not be disposed to sharing information freely, given her hostility to freedom of information bill in which case a son of Lagos in David Hundeyin will be more than willing to help us investigate how much Tinubu’s medical tourism has cost the state from 2007 till date.
If we feigned ignorance of Buhari’s health information in 2015, can we say the same of 2019? He staggered in Kogi, we saw it but looked away. The disconnection between his brain and his tongue as a result of cognitive declining was noticed but overlooked in Delta. We have a candidate who in preparation for 2023 staggered in Kaduna, forgot the name of his party and prayed for another in Jos, his host, Simon became “Solomon” Lalong. Same candidate at one time referred to his party as Action Group to tell us how behind time the brain promising us renewed hope is.
The rhetorics of having the ability to assemble the best of hands and heads should be looked at from this perspective: heads and hands no matter how good will be useless to the central head who is suppose to coordinate them and provide leadership if senile.
The temptation of choosing Tinubu over others stares our father Pastor E.A Adeboye in the face. Would he prefer being the pastor of the first lady which a BAT presidency will provide, or will the need for a healthy president override this personal interest? To him we should all plead; lead us not into temptation before same is made a prayer to the Lord in faith. This is a reality the church leadership must discuss. This is no time to hide behind one finger. RCCG may swing the ball like she did in 2015 because of Osibanjo. But it must be noted, Nigeria cannot afford another sick and lifeless President!