Dr Abel Damina is the national chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Youth Wing. He speaks on the on-going electoral reforms and the Jos crises, saying the PFN will be mobilizing some 50 million Christian youths from across the country to register ahead of the 2011 elections and also stop politicians from rigging the polls.
By AnthoniaÂ Onwuka
On the on-going electoral reforms in the country?
I think if the federal government takes the issue of electoral reforms seriously, it would be a goodÂ development and would help change the face of our electoral system and by extension the way our political leaders discharge the functions of their offices.
How do you see what has happened so far?
For us in the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, we have made up our mind to go into aggressive campaign to let every Nigerian youth realize that his vote is his birthright; that he has the right to vote for whoever he wants into public office and also making them realize that we are important because under normal circumstance, nobody becomes president or governor without our votes. So, our votes count. That is the awareness we want to create nationwide, so that all the youths from all parts of the country can go and revalidate their voterâ€™s cards and then those who had registered before can go and get registered. We want every youth, that is every Christian youth to get registered. So, we are launching a massive campaign to get all our young people to go and register. We cannot fold our hands and keep blaming the government and our fathers and we do nothing about it.
How are you going to drive this?
We are going to drive the project with everything we have. The PFN has representation everywhere. Maybe I should even say that we have more spread than the political parties. We are in the villages where the politicians do not get to, even during their campaigns. Where there are no functional ward offices for political parties, we are there. We are in every ward and in every local government. we are in all hamlets. Call the churches everywhere and we are there. We have our pastors and churches everywhere.
Over the years, the church had made this mistake of not getting involved in the processes of getting the leaders through elections. But you see, the more we abandon politics for those we call the politicians, then we should be able to take whatever kind of governance we are getting. Now, we have said we want to have a clear shift from the norm. We have heard of INECâ€™s calendar for the next elections and registration is supposed to start sometime in April. We have also drawn our own calendar and we are going to massively mobilize all our leaders nationwide.
We are going to start from our headquarters in Warri, where our leader, Papa Ayo Oritsejafor is. We will all move to Warri, revalidate our votersâ€™ card and then we will move from state to state, local government to local government, ward to ward, to all the six geo-political zones in this country and we will invade everywhere. We will confirm the number of Christians that are registered to vote and then we will go into the field and take our destiny in our hands.
On the mobilization as a solution to rigging?
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that our votes count. So, we will stop them from rigging themselves into office. We have the number. Assuming we have 50 million youths who are eligible to vote and all of them have registered and have their cards. You only need about 20 million votes to become president. These our youths will be at the various polling units and will be involved in the monitoring all over the country.
They will follow the ballot boxes to wherever. We have an online website and every 30 minutes, there will be an update on that website on what is going on nationwide. Our youths will be sending every information including pictures to the site. Reports will be flowing into the site and there is nowhere you can rig when everybody is watching you and monitoring every activity. Before, we used to fold our hands and say let them do what they like, then will rig with impunity. Now, we have arisen and we are saying enough of the rigging.
On what the PFN hopes to achieve from this project?
We want to get involved in nation building. We are part of the builders of this nation and this nation is ours. We want to be deeply involved in what is going on. It is about shinning the light to the world; it is about making sure that people do not pass through the back door into any political office in this country any longer. The Bible says we are the light of the world and once we shine, darkness can no longer have a place and must find its way out. So, once we take our right of place, those who are used to passing through the back door will know that the game is up. We are going to shine our eyes this time around.
On the Jos crisis?
I feel disturbed everyday when I remember how innocent people were killed and churches and other houses destroyed. The most painful is the alleged involvement of the army who were supposed to protect the people.