By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Hon Austin Adiele Opara, an Anglican, has said that if the 15 million Anglicans in Nigeria decide to be part of the electoral process, they can decide who becomes what in this country.
Opara spoke at the symposium on Christians and Politics organized by the Diocese of Abuja as part of the series of activities for the 2018 Carnival for Christ, which was held at the Basilica of Grace Church, Gudu District, Apo Abuja.
He explained the need for the Church to enlighten and sensitize its members about the electoral process, and encourage them to contest and be part of the process. He said the Church needed to collaborate with other denominations, as well as people of other faiths, in order to achieve a common goal, which, he said, was producing credible and Godly leaders.
The Rt. Hon. Opara called on the Church to speak out against evil, especially when politicians did wrong, adding that in addition to prayer, Christians must also play their own role. He said that for Nigeria to experience peace, there must be free and fair elections, because, according to him, that was the only way to elect the right people to govern the nation.
He stressed that it was time for Christians to sit up and take the right steps, explaining that when the ungodly was in authority, the people mourned. He traced the history of democratic elections in Nigeria, pointing out that the country was degenerating in its electoral process rather than improving.
He observed that in the early years, politicians only used thugs to intimidate people during elections, but that now, people were being killed as a result of elections. He listed thuggery, violence, intimidation of voters, hijacking of ballot papers, and deliberate omission of voters' names as some of the various ways through which election results were manipulated in Nigeria.
He however said there was still hope if Christians registered, obtained their PVCs, went out and voted, voted wisely, refused to collect money from any individual, protected their votes and refused to be intimidated.
Meanwhile, the Director, Civic and Political Affairs for Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion and the Nationwide Coordinator CONAC Election Observation Group, Ven. Joseph Unuayan, has stated that the era where Christians were passive about politics was over.
Making this known at the symposium on Christians and Politics, he noted that years of observing elections had shown that many Christians did not show interest in or participate in politics. He added that this behaviour must come to an end for the nation to move forward.
He said politics involved the election of leaders in any given society and all the games which surrounded the distribution of the commonwealth of that society, explaining that the subject matter could be defined in many ways.