The Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, yesterday advised Christians in the country to join any of the existing political parties if they want to make significant impact in the political leadership of the country.
Bishop Okonkwo said getting the permanent voter’s card (PVC) is not enough, as electing leaders in a democratic dispensation does not start with registering to vote.
He made the observation during a programme organised in continuation of the Building Leaders for Empowerment and National Transformation, (BLENT) at TREM Headquarters in Lagos.
Said he: “In Nigeria, we don’t have room for independent candidates, that means political parties are the ones to put forward candidates for elections. The foundation for getting good people into political leadership positions is by joining the political parties. Whether by direct or indirect primaries or by consensus, it is the parties that will field candidates.
“So, if as Christians we are not part of the party structures, we will be left with making a choice out of two evils like our speaker just said. Me, I don’t want to make any choice from among two evils, I want to choose from good things. It is when candidates are put forward that the issue of using PVC to vote will come in.
He continued: “I therefore charge you to go to your wards and be part of the process. Be a loud voice, don’t be lost in the crowd. Be engaged and involved. It is like we don’t understand how powerful government is. Government can kill you if they choose to or put you in jail. Unfortunately, some are reluctant to be part of the process. We bury our heads inside the church and not engaged.
“If you sit down and you are left with making a choice out of two evils, do you expect the evil you have chosen to do things that will favour you? It is wishful thinking to believe that by crying in the social media things would change.”
Okonkwo charged Christians to display integrity, commitment and excellence wherever they find themselves.
On why some Christians get it wrong going into politics, Okonkwo disclosed that some would want to start from the top, instead of learning the ropes and moving up.
He added: “Some want to become the big guys overnight. They want to start from the big positions. If you really want to serve, why don’t you start from be basics and climbing up the ladder of success. If you are a local government chairman and you are determined to make the difference in your corner, that is enough. You will be sending positive messages that would resonate beyond your imagination.”
The guest speaker, Mr Sam Kputu, who spoke on “Becoming a game changer in Nigeria politics,” stressed that there was no doubt that Christians should be involved in politics.
Kputu, who was a former National Youth Leader of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in the second republic and now a missionary, observed that the family, the church and the government were units set up by God to run things on Earth.
He explained that the enemy of God is constantly attacking the three and that Christians should not just fold their arms and watch things deteriorate.
Kputu warned that politics is more than a game because the consequences affect more people.
His words: “I must sound a note of warning that there are limitations to politics. It can ensure social righteousness and not the righteousness of God. There is also not enough space for everybody to occupy one seat or the other. With a population of over 200 million, we have barely 15,000 elective positions in Nigeria from councillor to the President.
“Nigerian Christians are significant in number for them to cause great change to happen in the country but they don’t speak with one voice.
“In 1983, I was with my uncle in a political party that went round the country before the general elections. When we got to the East, the Christians there said God told them Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe would be president. In the West, the Christians there said God told them it would be Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the North, they mentioned Prof. Ishaya Audu, was it that the people heard from different Gods?”
He disclosed that Christians should be involved in choosing the nation’s leaders because if the wicked are in power and Christians are hoping for anything good, it would amount to hoping against hope.
He urges Christians not play politics like unbelievers who would promise heaven and give the people hell, but hat they must make positive changes in the polity.
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