• Monday, July 22, 2024
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In the spirit of Easter: Don’t play politics with God’s name, clerics caution politicians

Governance & dividends of democracy: The last minute model

The presidential election 2023 has been concluded and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the results, president-elect, and has urged those not satisfied with the outcome to seek redress in court.

Consequently, some politicians, who felt that they were rigged out of the election have already approached the Election Petition Tribunals to seek justice.

Since the election however, some politicians and their supporters have chosen to heat up the polity in a manner many observers have described as dangerous.

Cautioning politicians to tone down their rhetoric, some clerics said some of the things being said were capable of engendering bad blood and crisis in the polity.

Some clerics, however, have also blamed some among them for abandoning their calling and running after politicians for pecuniary reasons.

Henry Nkemakolam Anozie, presbyter/cathedral administrator, Wesley Cathedral Circuit, Aba, Methodist Church Nigeria, observed that have suffered a great deal, noting that it is the poor that suffers all challenges faced by the country. “Disease will come and it is the poor that suffers it. This is as the poor is suffering the current cash crunch in the country.

According to him, “The just concluded elections wasn’t about religion, it was just a civil matter and as electorate, we did our best to carry out our civil responsibility, by voting and since we have voted, we need to leave it at that and pray to God to give us the best that will come from him.

“And there is no authority that has been instituted that is not of God, so if God allows anything to happen, we should either accept it or pray against it. God has a way of bringing us out of bad situations.

“For example, when the Israelites were having problems in the Persian Gulf, Easter was made to help the people come out of the problem and Mordecai told her that it is at that time that God made her to be there at that period, so she accepted the challenge and asked them to pray and God answered and turned the situation around.

And I think that our own is not different, it is a war of hand, but if God wants to change the situation Nigeria, God has a way to do that.”

Quoting Voltaire, a French philosopher and historian, during the French revolution, he declared that there is no country that will change, which change has not actually come.

“Since the other parties have decided to go to court, God can intervene, through the court and institute the right person, since human weakness couldn’t allow us to institute the right person, through voting.

“So, God can through the court turn things around to institute the person that will change the country. And remember that Voltaire, went further to say that no matter how you bend the will of the people cannot break it.

“Abraham Lincoln, in one of the quotes attributed to him, said “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time”.

“So, for that reason I think that by the opposition party going to court, they are taking a legal procedure, which everybody one of us should be quite until the courts makes a resolution on the matter”.

Read also: Growing political intolerance and the ghost of Nazi Germany

He advised people to control what they say in other not to make some insinuations that will bring crisis again to this nation, because people have suffered a great deal.

He stressed that the poor suffers in every negative thing that happens in Nigeria. “When sickness comes, it is the poor that suffers, same with the current cash crunch in the country, the poor are in the receiving end.

“So if God wants to change our lot, He has the capacity to do it”, he stated.

Vitalis Azubuike, coordinating pastor, Repositioning Centre, Region 15 Headquarters, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), appealed to politicians and other individuals heating up the polity, to give peace a chance.

“To the politicians who are deliberately promoting hate and heating up the polity, because of power, the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, who by Him all things were made and without Him was not anything made that was made, has said: God is not mocked, whatever a man sows that he shall reap,” he said.

He appealed to politicians to refrain from ungodly ways and utterances, stressing that the hate they are promoting can cause destructions and consequences they never imagined.

“The Almighty God knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. I appeal to you all to give peace a chance. It is not a sign of weakness but one of the attributes of the strong,” he said.

Ezra Taft Benson, a former United States Secretary of Agriculture in one of his quotes said, “The price of peace is righteousness. Men and nations may loudly proclaim, peace, peace; but there shall be no peace until individuals nurture in their souls those principles of personal purity, integrity, and character which foster the development of peace”.

According to him, peace cannot be imposed. Accordingly, there is no other way to peace than that it must come from the lives and hearts of men.

It is on the back of this that some religious leaders in the country are calling on politicians and their ‘foot soldiers’ to maintain the peace and allow for order.

According to them, Nigeria is on the brink and so polarised that all lovers of peace must come together to salvage what is left of the country. “Everybody must make an intentional effort to let peace reign in Nigeria,” Cosmas Ilechukwu: the general secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said.

Ilechukwu, who is also the General Overseer, Charismatic Renewal Ministries, Worldwide, said heating up the polity at a time the country is so polarized will do nobody no good. Hence, the accusations and counter accusations are not necessary. As such, we should all be law abiding citizens.

“The election cases have been moved from the polling booth to the courts. I think it is wise for everybody to retreat to his trenches and allow the court to do their job. Heating up the polity with all kinds of threats, all kinds of boasting and bragging is not the way to go,” he said.

According to Ilechukwu, politicians have a responsibility to help to maintain the state of peace in the country. “We must all endeavour to make sure that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of gender, or tribe or race, or status in life”.

Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, said it is expected that people who have been elected to positions of authority will use the opportunity to make life better for Nigerians.

“And that is why one must call those who are opinion moulders to be careful about what they say, and to pay attention to the language they use, because it can create such a problem that they themselves will not be able to manage anymore,” Martins warned.

According to him, the country is in a very difficult moment with regards to insecurity, and the terrible state of the economy that is impacting upon people’s lives.

“So, as elections have happened, our leaders need to continue to remind themselves that people have elected them in order to serve them, not for the people to serve the politicians and those who have opportunity to rule, but rather in a selfless way give of their best for the service of the nation,” said Martins.

For those promoting hate speech and tribal bigotry, Martins warned that such kinds of ethnic profiling must not be allowed to go on unchecked. According to him, we are different in many ways as a people, but united in more ways than we are different.

“Indeed our diversity should be strength rather than a problem that some people are making it into,” said Martins.

Accordingly, he said that is the more reason people must not allow politics and politicians to whip up sentiment against one another. “When we do that, or where people allow that to happen; we are the ones that it does affect more. People who are neighbours can hardly talk to one another anymore,” he said.

On his part, the Reverend in charge of the Ajayi Dahunsi Memorial Baptist Church, Ilasamaja, Lagos, Olusola Idowu, said it is very important for politicians and Nigerians in general to put Nigeria far above personal interest and agenda.

According to him, nobody can talk about his own desire, personal agenda or interest if the country is in ruin. “I like to use this opportunity to plead with all politicians to put the interest of this nation first above their own personal interest and personal agenda,” Idowu said.

He said further that it is very unfortunate that Nigerians live at a time where the country is losing her nationhood, just as her people are also losing their humanity. “So, I plead with politicians, the way the nation is today is like we’re on the edge now more than ever before. We are so polarized; we’re so divided.”

Accordingly, Idowu said that politicians should be thinking more on how to unite the country now that the elections are over.” The elections have come and gone; yes some people have gone to court to seek redress. I think that’s the line to toe and as much as possible we should avoid inflammatory statements. We should avoid statements that can throw this nation into confusion,” he warned.

Similarly, he urged religious leaders to live above board and lead by example. According to him, this is the time Nigerians should be binding their wounds; everybody, especially leaders of thought across the country should stop the name-calling and allow for peace.

“So, If the politicians are living below standard, those of us who are men of God, who are servants of God should not allow ourselves to be used. Again, if the politicians are not behaving as expected, those of us who are servants of God; we should live above board; we should be able to call them to order,” Idowu said.

However, Ilechukwu has a word of warning for people taking the name of God in vain, saying it is punishable by God. According to him, any politician that is wittingly or unwittingly using the name of God in politics is using that name in vain.

“Is God interested in politics? Yes; because politics is a process through which the nations elect their leaders, and God is committed to making sure that good leadership prevails in every nation,” Ilechukwu said.

He said further that any politician that is corrupt, inept, or immoral calling on God is taking the name of God in vain, and warned them to deceit from such acts.

“God cannot be bribed, and God cannot be used to authenticate illegality or authenticate injustice, maltreatment or to authenticate all the vices that bedeviled our current expression of politics in Nigeria,” Ilechukwu said

Martins equally urged the incoming administration to focus more on capacity and human capital development so as to lift Nigerians out of the multi-dimensional poverty that they are currently experiencing.

“Bring those who have knowledge, those who have the capacity to take decisions, decisions that will help the economy to grow; let it not be a political thing, but rather going out for the best wherever they can be found in order to make the lives of the people better,” Martins advised.

Tope Ilesanmi, Lead pastor, Revival Summit Ministries and Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Ikeja Province, on his part said that the aftermath of the national election seems to be laden with an uneasy calm.

“We need to sheath our swords for peace to reign. Though some of our politicians have lost confidence in our judicial system, yet acting contemptuously is lawlessness,” Ilesanmi said.

He is also optimistic that a new Nigeria is in the offering as we look forward to the inauguration of a new administration on May 29, 2023. “But having prayed, and voted as patriotic citizens, am too sure that the long awaited New Nigeria is here; and I shall be greatly blessed therein”.

However, he found it difficult to draw the line between some clerics and politicians, and thinks it would be surprising to think that clerics would caution politicians when they themselves have not covered themselves in glory.

“Majority of the frontline clerics that should do so, don’t want to have anything to do with politics, not to talk of politicians. Some clerics have also soiled their hands with the forbidden fruits collected from politicians. Others yet, are ignorant of trends, and so unable to advise appropriately. Please, leave the politicians alone for now, but by May 30, 2023; all of them will sit up,” Ilesanmi said.

Oriname Kure, Edo state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, urged Nigerians to be fervent in prayers, pointing out that where there is no peace, there cannot be progress.

“The price of patience and unfeign commitment for the very country we want to rule. This is a great price but, however, if we refuse to pay the price of peace, we should remember that the price of war is higher than the price of peace because you do not who and who will go for it. And, at the end of the day, it will take several years for the country to come back.

“As spiritual people and as people that fear God and have a great love for our country, our assignment at this particular time is to pray for our nation to have peace,” Kure said.

He added that the people who are aggrieved from the just concluded election have already gone to court, “so, we should be patient to wait for the judgment of the supreme court. This is the only country we have and it is our responsibility to protect it so that things can move forward.

“As a man of God, I will appeal that we should be patient and prayerful and let us go through the due process in achieving whatsoever we are looking for. Let us look up to God and let the rule of law take its course.”

Abdul-Fatai Enabulele, Chief Imam of Benin, on his part, urged aggrieved persons not to succumb to be used to cause chaos.

According to him,
Nigerians should be sensible enough to know that it is only when there is peace and tranquility that there will be progress and development.

Enabulele, while calling for calm, said “As far as I am concerned, this country is greater than any individual. Part of the problem is the fallout of the election. So, when election is conducted, everybody cannot win at the same time, and so if you don’t win, you should remain calm.

“When you look at the election, you will observe everybody rigged. There is no election that is free and fair, even in advanced countries. As far as I am concerned, everybody rigged and it was the best rigger that won.

“Since the winner has been declared, It is for us to work collectively with the winner for the progress of our nation because if they fail, we will fail collectively. It is our duty to make sure there is peace and tranquility in the society and nobody should allow themselves to be used,” he added.

John Animazu of GMI Church in Lokoja pointed out that praying feverently to God for His intervention has been his church’s anthem because when there is problem it will escalate to everyone both Christians and Muslims. No body is exempted from war if it comes out.
He expressed concern that “Courts are keeping the masses in darkness; it should not be so. The electorate should be made to know bit by bit what is going on; it should be an open issue because its a national matter and should not be treated at a personal level .

“We as Ministers of God are trying our best by preaching peace and cautioning our congregation that through prayer we can achieve devine peace in the country . They have cast their vote, they should be prayerful now for God to intervene, not taking laws into their hands; it will only bring confusion in the country.

“We all saw what happened during the elections even the INEC are not exempted from telling the electorates the truth, the electorates were there they pointed out what they saw but it was swept under the carpets, but our prayers is that God will do His own because it is only God that has the final say as far as Nigeria is concerned. Even though we have choices, every individual has his choice. May the choice of the majority prevail under free, fair and credible atmosphere. We still need to pray as a nation for God to intervene; for peace to regin in our country because we have no other country to call ours,” he said.

Joseph of God of Wonder Ministry pointed out that as a church they only partake in the election through prayers because politicians have all soiled their garments in different ways in other to clinch the electorate’s mandate.

Joseph equally maintained that the only solution is to go back to prayer, instigating the youths to cause havoc or destroying lives, people’s properties worth millions of naira is not the solution.

Enrich Iritevwobor, an apostle and presiding pastor, Reigners Assemblies Outreach International, Ogwashi-uku, Delta State, has blamed politicians for the problems Nigerians are going through just as he warned those playing God to desist from playing politics with God’s name.

He frowned that some politicians are putting fire in the country by their words and actions. “They are playing God and are instigating war in the country. Therefore, they should be blamed if this country goes into war,” he warns.

Iritevwobor, while cautioning trouble makers on the dangers of plunging the nation into war, said they too would not escape as karma would catch up with them.

The clergy who doubles as the coordinator of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State, said:

“Whatever that is happening in this country is caused by the politicians and I’m warning them against bringing trouble upon this nation.

“I don’t think that beginning from the recent elections uptill now some politicians really have the interest of the masses at their heart. They don’t love the people – the poor masses. They are just after their own good. They have to be cautious the way they handle matters in this country.
They shouldn’t be doing things for their own selfish interest. They should consider the poor masses that made up the nation.

“The politicians are trying to cause war because their children are not in this country. Most of their properties are not in this nation and they don’t have the nation in mind. They want to bring war upon the nation and they will run away. Even if they have not declared war with their mouth, the way they are currently handling matters can push the citizens to react, leading to a war situation.

“The politicians should know that they cannot cause war and go free because anywhere they will run to or fly to in this world, to hide themselves with their children, we still have Nigerians there and they (Nigerians abroad) will fight back.

“As some politicians are now playing God, they should know that the Bible warns against using the name of God in vain. Some of them cover up with the name of the Lord but the Bible has declared that he that carries fire should be wary that fire will burn him. So, if they try to cause war in this nation, it must surely affect them and their children wherever they are.
“I’m warning them to see that they do things in peaceful manner. They just cannot run away from Nigeria neither would they run away from God. Naturally, karma will catch up on them. We have prayed for peace in this country and whoever that want otherwise, God will arise to deal with such people.