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Politicians beware, Christian opposition cometh

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 By Sam Eyoboka

NIGERIAN politicians who had taken advantage of the absence of a viable opposition in the polity since the inception of democratic rule in 1999 to behave like the Lords of the Manor must now realise that the purchase of the numerous bullet-proof jeeps from different international markets can no longer guarantee their continued regime of profligacy. Political office holders had held the Nigerian nation by the jugular since 1999 as though the country was a conquered territory handed to then in trust by some unseen captors.

They impose themselves on the people, rape them and use their resources to buy chieftaincy titles, bullet proof vehicles and build or buy choice houses in choice areas in different parts of the globe and constantly lord it over the populace. The political class use the people’s God-given resources to lure their daughters into modern day prostitution while the emasculated population look on helplessly as their own male children graduate from some glorified teachers’ training colleges called public universities with no hope of gainful employment.

The few young lads who are ‘lucky’ to get recruited as political thugs are easily dumped as soon as electioneering campaigns are over or left as hangers on who parade campuses to contract their own sisters for the master and his often nocturnal political guests. When descent persons are asleep, that is when they hold their political consultations on how best to share allocations meant for the upliftment of the people, unmindful of global concerns for a possible failure of the otherwise giant of the African continent by 2015.  

All of that appears to be changing for the good of the country or how else do you describe a situation where five months before a crucial election year, all political aspirants are still lying low, shying away from declaring their intention. The few that have dared to do so, are those who are hinging their ambition on the altar of a zoning platform to actualize their dreams of emerging the next set of commissioned looters of the collective treasury. But there appears to be a groundswell emerging to checkmate the excesses of profligate rulers in the country.

Not many Nigerians, including members of the gladiators at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, took the Save Nigeria Group serious when Pastor Tunde Bakare and others stormed the Federal Capital Territory protesting imminent failure of the nation.

That was preceded by a protest match by over 2,500 members of the DayStar Christian Centre, Oregun lead by their Pastor Sam Adeyemi who were protesting the poor state of power in the country. There have been virulent attacks by eminent Christian clerics like the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde and Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie among others who had constantly put the nation’s rulers on their toes.

On Tuesday in Lagos, the new president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor addressed an impromptu news conference in Lagos where he sounded a note of warning to the nation’s politicians, asking them to shape in now because it cannot be business as usual any longer. “I believe that we are coming to a time where every Nigerian vote will actually counts and the more the vote actually count, it more it will be important for those elected to be accountable to those who elected them. Same goes to those who are appointed to certain offices based on certain recommendations,” he said “they must work for the people, because they are the servants of the people. We want to be able to remind them constantly.

You can’t serve God, without serving the people. So, we want to remind them that they are servants of the people. The level of corruption in this country is too high. I believe we can participate in a very major way to find ways to reduce corruption and make elected official accountable in this country.”

Unveiling his 3-point agenda for the umbrella body of Christians in the country, Pastor Oritsejafor said there is the dire need to unite the Church in Nigeria and use the strength thereof to speak with one voice and hold politicians accountable for their deeds in office and rid the nation of the hydra-headed monster called corruption. According to the CAN helmsman, his 3-point agenda include the following: “First of all I will want to work seriously for the unity of the Church.

The Church is not as united as it ought to be and that is why we don’t make the kind of impact we ought to make on Nigeria. The Bible calls us the salt of the Earth, the light of the world; but when we are divided and saying too many different things in to many different direct-ions, then it is very difficult for us to actua-lly speak as one and make the kind of impact we ought to make.

“It is important for the Church to be one, because Jesus prayed that prayer; ‘that they might be one’” he said “that is my number one priority. To bring the Church together; whe-ther you are Roman Catholic or you are an Anglican or a Pente-costal or from the Ala-dura sect or from any of the five groups that make up CAN, we must understand that Jesus Christ makes us one.

 And if we can come together as one it will be easier for us to help Nigeria as a nation. If we can come together as one, believe me, it will be easier for Nigeria to come together as one.”

Number two, he said: “I am very concerned about religious crises that constantly happen especially in the northern part of this nation. It’s of great concern to me and I believe, to anybody who is a Nigerian that loves Nigeria. I love this country and I know that there are many other Nigerians that love Nigeria. I believe that God will give us grace to work with our Muslim brothers; we must find peace for this nation.

No nation can survive constant religious crises! It is too dangerous a thing to allow to continue. We can end it. Yes! It is dialogue, but we can deepen the dialogue. There are other things about dialogue we can explore. I believe that, my very good friend, the Sultan of Sokoto—we are very good friend, most people don’t know that—we would work together more. We would spend more time to explore areas where we can co-operate to make sure that these things do not happen again. If we can’t stop it completely initially, at least we can reduce to the barest minimum. I believe it is possible.”

Number three and perhaps the most important, according to him: “I believe that God would use me and my tenure to begin to hold elected officials acc-ountable for their positions. People elect-ed them. I believe we are coming to the point where every Nigerian vote will actually counts and the more the vote actually count, the more it will be important for those elected to be accountable to those who elected them. Or for those who were appoint-ed based on certain recomm-endations.

They must work for the people, because they are the servants of the people. We want to be able to remind them constantly. The Bible describe people like us as servants of God and if you are a servant of God, automatically you also a servant of the people. You can’t serve God, without serving the people. So, we want to remind them and make them understand that they are servants of the people. The level of corruption in this country is too high. It is too much and I believe we can participate in a very major way to find ways to reduce corruption and make elected officials accountable in this country.”

If Oritsejafor who had been a loud voice in agitation for a better deal for the Niger Delta region, pilots the umbrella body of Christians in this country to give bite to the radical efforts of Cardinal Okogie, His Eminence Makinde, Rev. Moses Iloh, Pastor Chris Okotie, Pastor Adeyemi and lately Pastor Bakare, then the nation’s politicians may not have a hiding place in the next dispensation, methinks!

 He wished that the nation’s politicians were there at the just concluded CAN elections, saying “because I was highly impressed. That is the way it should be. I am sure, if you meet my predecessor he will tell the same thing that it was peaceful, free and fair. It was just incredible. It was a mistake that we didn’t record it. I believe that politicians can learn from us and that is the way it should be, because we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”

Speaking on how there can be a free and fair and credible elections next year, this was his submission, “I want to say to my fellow Nigerians; if you allow someone to give you money for your vote, you have thrown away your future. How much money can anyone pay you for your conscience? Jesus puts better: ‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world…? in this case you are not gaining anything but a few thousand naira that you will finish in a moment and when it is gone what happens next? You have just allowed a man/woman to occupy a position that they will use to oppress you…they will use to deprive you and marginalise you.

So at the end of the day, you are the loser. I pray that somehow, the Nigerian people will wake up to appreciate the value of their vote. Don’t give it out any how. Think, look, pray and consider before you vote for anybody. But make sure that you vote. Don’t allow somebody to take your voters card from you. Do the right thing. If we all do the right thing, Nigeria will become the right place.       

He is not done yet. Asked if he would support calls to grant kidnappers amnesty as their Niger Delta counter-parts, this is what he volunteered: “Honesty, I don’t know if I will think of amnesty for kidnappers because that is a high level criminal offence. It is so wrong! Look at what happened to journalists that have just been released; how do you do this kind of thing?

How do you kidnap people for money; sometimes a 3-year old child; sometimes a 90-year old man or an 85-year old great grand mother. No conscience? I don’t think what they need is amnesty. What they need, first of all, a way to show them that if you have not been caught, you can change your ways and the Church can participate in that. But the reality is, if you are caught there should be very stiff penalty for people who are caught in act of kidnapping and not only those who actually do the kidnapping but all those who are associated with it; even the communities where these kidnappers come from, should be held responsible one way or the other.

This is un-African. It is un-Nigerian. It is not part of us. It is not who we are. So, I don’t think amnesty is the issue. I think they should be educated more and shown the danger that such things will bring to then and to this country if they don’t stop what they are doing.”

He traced the origin of kidnapping to the festering Niger Delta question, saying that the government must find answers to those begging questions of our nationhood. On whether President Goodluck Jonathan should run for presidency next year, Pastor Oritsejafor reiterated his earlier call on the president to concentrate his efforts on his duties as a president of Nigeria at such as time as this and if he endears himself to the Nigerian people, “it is the Nigerian people that will invite him to run.

“The issue to me, is for President Jonathan to perform and I think he is trying. I believe he would do more in the few months that he has left. I had a feeling that at a point, all Nigerians would ask him to run. The truth is, he is a Nigerian. Every Nigerian citizen has a constitutional right to run for any office in this country, if you meet the constitutional provisions. So, I don’t see any reason why one person should be deprived from running for an office in this nation,” he added.

On the reported ambition to contest next year’s election, Oritsejafor said: “IBB is a Nigerian. We wish him well, but I think it is a very big mistake he is making. He should not think of doing this thing. At this time in his life, he should advise people. He should encourage others. He should find ways to be a statesman; a person that other Nigerians can go to for insight into what to do and what not to do to make Nigeria great. I don’t think IBB should be involved in running for office at this time,” he said.

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