Christian leaders across the country under the auspices of the Nigerian National Christian Coalition, NNCC, have concluded plans to meet presidential candidates of various political parties to negotiate the interest of Christians ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The leaders said the discussion with presidential candidates, especially that of the major political parties, is amongst activities for its “Meet The Church Summit” slated to hold at the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja on September 20.
Accordingly, they stated that the parley would bring the church and politicians together for an engagement to lay down the interests of Christians and negotiate with politicians to cause inclusion of the church in project Nigeria.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday, convener of NNCC, Titi Oluwadare, maintained that christians can no longer be spectators in the country, warning that any politician who fail to meet the church will fail in 2023.
In an apparent reference to the same faith ticket adopted by the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the presidential election, Oluwadare said the imbalance must be corrected before the country falls over and tips over the precipice.
She emphasised the need for national interests to be above parochial interests such as religion and ethnicity.
According to her, Christians represents a big chunk of Nigeria but has failed to articulate a political vision and engage together to horn it into interests and ideas.
She said: “The church is now awake and we are ready to constructively engage with other stakeholders in the Nigeria project . We are discussing with people of all faith, tribe and tongue in a bid for peace, and national healing as well as national rebirth.
“Across the political system of Nigeria, there are three key interests and focal areas. These are the Christians, the Muslims, and the Tribal interests. The Muslims in Nigeria have effectively translated their Interests into ideas and political strategies and policies.
“The reality is that interests need to be harmonised, pursued, and transplanted or transformed to Politics, Ideas and Ideologies before strategic engagement and policies can evolve positively from there. Muslims have done this effectively Christians have not even started .
“The tribal interests have also been harmonised across Nigeria. We have the Biafra, the Arewa and the Oduduwa interests politically. These interests erroneously has buried the National interest and identity and are causing Division amongst the youth because tribal interests has been superimposed as the main and exalted interest above National interest and identity.
“We are also saying we will no longer be ignored, used and dumped, manipulated as block, enslaved ,dictated to and disregarded .
“NNCC recognises however that until the church engages and brings forth her interests and drives it into ideas and fashions out political strategy, the system will not be sanitised, neither can we play the role of responsible citizens who engage to turn around the tides in the favour of the common man, or who even engage to level the playing ground in our Nation and act as a voice of reason to check the excesses of other interests represented in the dynamics of political power in Nigeria.
“Therefore if this continues Nigeria will continue in the circle of retrogression, impunity and lack of accountability in the nation and the situation will continue to deteriorate even further”
She noted that church leaders had been widely consulted is to use NNCC as a pressure group and political negotiation tool for Christians.
In his speech, the executive director in charge of politics, NNCC, Uzuka Chukwuemeka, said if the nation can get the right kind of leadership, then it has solved a large chunk of its problems.
He added that “If church leaders are made to understand that indeed we are the light, then we can get to where we want to be. The narrative that Christians should not engage in politics because it is dirty has to change. The spiritual and the physical must be harnessed for impartation.
“If we get the right kind of leadership, out prayer points as a people will reduce drastically because we have solved half of our problems as a nation.
“If the country is unstable, then economic activities like every other sector is bound to suffer.
“The time has come for the leadership lapses in the church to be filled. Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN is doing well, but NNCC wants to fill in the gap that CAN has not been able to harness and say it as it is. NNCC is bringing in the relationship between the church and politics.
“The church has become so afraid. We possess the power and preach the word and yet are afraid to step out and show what we’ve got.
“Come 2023 election, you must meet the church, or you’ll fail. The leadership must know that life and peace matters and we all will have a nation that we all can be proud of.”