People or organizations who do not know the power that they have are bound to suffer unduly. A case in hand is the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). I have watched in amazement the unfolding hullabaloo that the CAMA bill just passed into law has generated. I am also amazed by seeing our Christian leaders being pushed into a state of disarray because of some of the contentious clauses in the new law.
The only reason why this could happen to churches in Nigeria is when you have power and you don’t know how to make use of it. The population of Christians in Nigeria is almost 100 million. So how easy is it going to be for anybody to become the President of Nigeria without the support of such a huge number of people? It will be extremely difficult. This is the reason why Christian leaders should come together and get involved in determining who becomes the next President of Nigeria. I am particular about the presidency because that is the apex position of authority. If the President is on the same page with CAN, it will be much easier for CAN to push through the interest of Christians.
CAN as a body, must be a major decider of who becomes the President of Nigeria in future elections. The day the politicians recognize the power of CAN, that is the day they will start respecting the association. Christian Association of Nigeria cannot continue to stay aloof. Doing so will be at its peril. It is a known fact that Christians respect their spiritual leaders a lot. Once CAN takes a position, the majority of the members will follow suit without compulsion. They will unanimously support whoever CAN chooses.
Political parties are associations of people that have come together to secure political power while CAN is an association of people who believe, worship and follow Christ. The two associations are distinct as shown in their names. Their objectives and goals are not the same. However, the occupier of political offices can support or destroy what CAN stand for. For this reason, CAN not fold its hands and say it is not a political association. So how do you protect the interest of the church and Christians? The welfare of Christians depends on the policies initiated and executed by politicians. Whether we accept it or not, as human beings, we are all political animals and that is the reason why everybody, both Christians and Muslims vote during elections. Even today, we have a lot of pastors who have stood for elections on different political platforms.
Going forward, therefore, I would like to suggest as follows:
CAN must come together and agree on the manifestoes or good governance agenda that anybody who wants to become the president of Nigeria must be ready and willing to implement. For emphasis, I mean individuals and not their political parties and CAN should limit herself ONLY to the person who wants to lead the country while other elective offices such as governorship and legislature are left alone.
Presidential hopefuls who recognize the strategic position of CAN should present their manifestoes to the Christian body who will decide on who, among those candidates, they would support. It is important to mention that CAN leadership and other church leaders should avoid any form of financial inducement or support from the politicians. It is an open secret that politicians offer financial support to some of the churches. Any church leader that goes against this rule should be ex-communicated.
Finally, the choice of CAN should be based on their good governance agenda or deliverables. The presidential candidate that they all agree to support could be a Christian or a Muslim from any part of Nigeria whether the north or south. The same way we have good and bad Muslims is the same way we have good and bad Christians.
I believe strongly that if this proposal is considered, CAN will be in a better position to influence future policies of the government. The association will be more respected and the Christians in
LAITAN AGBEJA Is A Public Affairs Analyst