Tinubu desperate, procuring fake Christian groups — Babachir Lawal

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Sebastine Obasi & Ibrahim Hassan

LAGOS — Few days after a visit to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu by some Christian clergymen, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has disowned the “Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria”, which met with the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Friday in Abuja.

“The PFN was not a part of the meeting with the presidential candidate that was highly politicised. We are, however, aware of the ripples in the public domain about this matter. I am speaking officially to clarify that the PFN has nothing to do with that,” the Deputy National Secretary of the PFN, Bishop David Bakare, said.

The PFN spoke as former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, berated Tinubu for dividing the Church, adding that Tinubu has no plans to include Northern Christians in his government, if elected.
However, spokesman of the APC campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, countered that PFN or CAN cannot dictate to the APC how it runs its affairs, adding that religion is not a serious factor during elections in the North because APC had two SGFs but still lost in their communities in Adamawa.

Meanwhile, more controversies have trailed the 422-man presidential campaign council of the APC and why President Muhammadu Buhari directed the exclusion of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha from the council.

PFN not divided

Speaking in an interview, Bishop Bakare said “the forum is not known to the PFN. There is nothing in PFN that is regional-based like Southern or Northern Pentecostal Bishops.

“The PFN is an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. The position of the fellowship on same-faith presidential ticket of the APC has not changed. The meeting between Tinubu and the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria has nothing to do with the PFN.

“I am speaking to you officially and authoritatively that the ranks of the Christian community and of course, the PFN, which I represent is not broken at all.

“The Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria is not known to the PFN. The forum does not have any affiliation or relationship with the PFN that is registered with the government of this nation.

“The position of the PFN on same faith ticket still stands as it was in the beginning and we have not, for any reason, shifted our position on that matter. The PFN was not a part of the meeting with the presidential candidate that was highly politicised.

“We are, however, aware of the ripples in the public domain about this matter. I am speaking officially to clarify that the PFN has nothing to do with that organisation.

“We didn’t take such a decision, we have not met that political party and whatever we will do will be in the public domain. That group is on its own and has nothing to do with the real incorporated PFN.

“I looked at the photos and the names. I could recognise about two people who are our members, but they speak for themselves. All Pentecostal leaders in Nigeria, from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Living Faith, Mountain of Fire, and House on the Rock, among others speak with one voice.

“Finally, I wish to let you know that there is nothing in PFN that is regional-based, like Southern or Northern Pentecostal Bishops.

As a matter of fact, the PFN does not have any settings for Bishops. What we have is PFN, we do not separate Bishops of Pentecostal from other clergies of Pentecostal. PFN is just one body under which all Bishops, Pastors and members are lined up behind Bishop Francis Oke, the President. We stand by our decision; we have not and will not bend to the dictate of any political group.”

Tinubu desperate, procuring fake Christian groups — Babachir Lawal

Meanwhile, Babachir Lawal, has berated Tinubu for using his desperation to divide the Church and explained the decision of Northern Christians not to kowtow to alleged propaganda sponsored by his party and Tinubu in order to downplay the controversies generated by its Muslim-Muslim ticket.

In a statement, yesterday in Yola, Adamawa State, Lawal said: “It seems that Bola/Kashim’s preferred approach is to attempt to counter our position through insults and sponsored fake Christian organisations in order to create the impression that there is a division within the Christendom on this matter.

“Needless to say, this tactic has failed woefully. They are now the butt of jokes in Church gatherings all over the country. Unknown to them, Church history emphatically records that Christians are more united in terms of adversity and persecution as now being propelled by this Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC.

“This approach has also portrayed the duo as arrogant and pitiable people whilst also exposing them to the public as people with unimaginable deficiencies of noble character.

“The reality is that, for each minute that these same-faith ticket duo have spent on their goebellsian propaganda, they have ended up spending several hours more trying to rebut the controversies that they themselves create in the process.

“Everyone, including some notable Christian haters, are now inviting false “Bishops” and “CAN” Leaders to meetings. They are busy fabricating overnight “Christian” organisations that churn out falsehood to the public. It is such a pity that people who intend to lead our country could descend to such low levels of morality and deficiency of conscience.
“But belying this posture is the reality of their true intentions not to have any roles for Northern Christians in their government. The unarguable fact is that they intend to offer nothing of significance to any Northern Christian in an APC government anticipated to be led by Bola and Kashim.

“The reality of their zoning arrangement is that the North-East sub-region is already out of the equation for any other posts because it has the Vice Presidency while the North Central too is out because they have the party’s National Chairmanship.
“The other key positions, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chief of Staff to the President have been zoned to the North-West, South-South, South-East and South-West regions respectively.
“Besides, we all know that there is and will be no ranking Christian Senator or House of Representatives member from the North-West that could occupy the seats of Senate President, Speaker or even their deputies. In any case, it is an open secret that they never allow Christians to occupy such positions in the North-West Zone even if there is a qualified Christian.
“If Kashim Shetima worked determinedly with Bola Tinubu’s acquiescence to deny the Northern Christians the Deputy National Chairman (North) position during the party’s National Convention what magic will then compel them to give a Northern Christian any significant posts in their government?”

“My dear Christians, it has been clear to us from the onset that APC, Bola and Kashim never had the intention or plan that offers the Northern Christians any sense of inclusion through any tangible roles in their government.”

PFN or CAN can’t dictate to APC — KEYAMO

Reacting to the complaints of exclusion and lopsidedness in the composition of the campaign council, Spokesman of the Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said all leaders of the party cannot be included.

Asked if the inclusion of PDP Senator and former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, was not an error, Keyamo challenged Nnamani to fault his inclusion.

Talking about the influence of religion, Keyamo said the APC administration has had two SGFs (Babachir Lawal and Mustapha) from Adamawa communities. They are Christians from the North and we lost in those communities. Religion does not matter in elections in those areas of the North.”

All member of a political party must not be members of a campaign council, this is a fact.

It is just that by tradition, we have tried to include everybody who has been anything in the party.

It is just a fact that not all members of a political party may not like to be part of the campaign council. They may want to play other roles.

The party has not done away with anybody; the party has respected the rights of everybody within the party to express his or her views. We do not deprive anybody in our party from expressing their views.

So these individuals do not represent, as I speak today, a particular structure of the party.When you are talking about such things as campaign council, you talk about the structure of the party and whether those structures are adequately represented in constituting the council.

As it is today, parties deal with structures and not individuals.

These individuals you talked about do not mean that they represent a block. There is nothing like the Northern Christian block in APC’s constitution. There is nothing like that and I am not aware that the party convened as structure of the party called the Northern Christian block and appointed certain persons to speak for them.

These are individuals who we respect their views and they are expressing their views.
How long people believe in their views will be seen when we go to the ballot.”
I reject those subliminal messages you said, the haunting you talked about is in the mind of the press and not Nigerians.
Whether it is haunting my party or not will be seen when we go to the ballot but when you use such languages, you are passing a message in a subliminal way to Nigerians.
At times, this is a creation of the press because on the field, we have northern Christians who hold various positions within the party, who are passionately supporting the party and are part of the campaign council.
Who has appointed anybody to speak on behalf of the Northern Christians? Are CAN or PFN organs of the APC?

So, it is an internal party decision and these external bodies are not part of our party. If they wanted to take part in the decision making process, they can join the party but they cannot stay outside and dictate to us how to conduct our affairs.
We have had Muslim-Muslim ticket before and nobody raised any eyebrow. The Action Congress of Nigeria fielded a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2011. So, sometimes, these issues are just over trumpeted by the press.”

Why Buhari directed exclusion of Osinbajo, Mustapha from campaign council
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered last night that differences over the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the APC were some of the reasons President Buhari directed the exclusion of Osinbajo and Mustapha from the campaign council.
The names of Osinbajo, Mustapha, Yakubu Dogara (former House of Representatives Speaker), and Babachir Lawal (former SGF), who are Christians were missing in the campaign council list.


However, a top party source told Vanguard that Osinbajo’s stance on Muslim-Muslim ticket is the major reason.
“Everybody in APC knows the principled stand and objection of Osinbajo on same faith ticket. So, when Boss Mustapha took the list of the council to President Buhari for vetting he directed that Osinbajo should be excluded.

“The Muslim-Muslim saga is very deep one that has caused enormous crisis of confidence in the party. The mistake has been made in our presidential candidate (Tinubu) picking Senator Kashim Shettima, a fellow Muslim as his running mate. Apart from Osinbajo feeling betrayed at the outcome of the convention, he is a senior Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Babachir, Mustapha, and Dogara are also Christians. How do you think they would be comfortable campaigning to fellow Christians in the North and other parts of the country to vote a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a religious sensitive setting as ours?” another party source said.

Kwara South stakeholders protest exclusion from campaign council
Meanwhile, leaders and stakeholders of the APC from Kwara South have protested the exclusion of members of the zone from the APC Presidential Campaign Council.
An APC Elder and Secretary General, Kwara South Consultative Forum, KSCF, Mr. Adebayo Daramola, in a statement yesterday, said excluding the zone that has sacrificed more for the party may not augur well.

Members of the APC Presidential Campaign Council that made the list from Kwara in the just released names included Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, La’Aziz Jimoh, Mr Issa Aremu, Mr Issa Onilu, Mr Rahman Giwa, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Ishiaq Modibbo Kawu, and Baba Rasaq, the Governor’s younger brother
Daramola expressed worried over the development, adding that all the names released were from Kwara Central “and this is great concern that must be rectified without delay by the leadership of the party.”

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