2019 Elections: How Prepared Are Christians?
By Ibrahim Lapinni
Nigeria’s election is fast approaching. In less than 100 days, Nigerians, of all faiths and different walks of life will go to the polls in yet another journey of destiny to elect leaders who will preside over the affairs of the nation for another four years.
Understandably, anxiety is heightening. The choice to be made is for the re-election of incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari or the emergence of a new president of northern origin.
Many would want a change, a breath of fresh air, away from the much touted change agenda of Buhari that scorched lives and made living extremely difficult and challenging.
Nigerians live below the global benchmark of one dollar a day which is demeaning and devaluing, in view of the doubtful economic policies of Buhari’s government.
Some die-hard Buhari followers adamantly insist on him and nobody else amongst the array of presidential candidates. This is potentially combustible. There must be room for democracy to thrive in Nigeria. Buhari’s loss of election must not mean there are no other good Nigerians to preside over the nation.
In respect to the forthcoming elections, the great question is, what efforts are Christians making to be active participants in shaping the destiny of the nation? How are Christians mobilizing fellow citizens, especially Christians to be potent determinants of the life-changing forth-coming elections?
How have Christians empowered themselves to be able to represent the interest of their faith? For too long, Nigerian Christians have displaced worrisome inertia vis a vis participation in politics and governance. The clear consequences of such stance have left Christian communities delicately vulnerable to bad laws, whim and caprices of several bigots and unscrupulous politicians.
Government sometimes mulls over the idea of taxing churches, but robust resistance to such an adventurous move doused the determinations of its proponents.
Churches are denied certificates of occupancy in many states in Northern Nigeria with feeble resistance from the Christian communities. Teachers who dared try to establish a chapel in government-owned unity schools had unpleasant experiences as scars. This ought not to be, realizing that Nigeria is a secular state. Sadly, this is observed only in letters, not in practical experiences.
Nigerian Christians must shrug off the defeatist mindset and tap into the promises of equity in its ground norm which is the constitution. They must enforce fresh thoughts that demand free and fair treatment as well as access to the benefits of the nation.
It only takes people that are determined to make the big and needed differences. One core symbolic determination to make a clear difference is the issue of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). Daily, Christians through churches were mobilized to go get their PVC’s but many remained stiff-necked, not collecting theirs. This is a clear determination to remain indifferent to political engagements in the nation.
How can we seize the nation when we have blatantly refused to arise and shine? How can we truly be the salt of the earth when every activity we engaged in or refused to knocked off our much cherished flavor.
How can we be so unconcerned to allow churches to increasingly become empty, turned into a warehouse and bought over by Arab petrodollars? If you were in the United Kingdom, you will see how cathedrals were lost in their numbers over the refusal to win souls.
The common fronts needed by Christians to address this issue is wholesomely threatened and plagued by disunity and tribal affiliations. Jesus prayed for the unity of the church, so, our greatest service is to obey these timeless admonitions.
The forces of globalization are opening up the world to commerce and closer human interactions. Sadly, many Christians are increasing their reclusiveness under the forces of denominationalism and incubated discipleship, where some church leaders corner wealthy members and deepen the bonds through pacifications.
Nigerian Christians are becoming politically disadvantaged, with dire consequences. There is urgent need to imbibe the leadership model of our Lord Jesus Christ and the much-needed wisdom to be active in all civic engagements in the nation.
Christians must not leave politics and governance to novices or men who do not wish our nation well. Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach. The reproach we are suffering remains unbearable. The prophets to deliver us from the burden of the taskmasters are nowhere to be found. Thus, ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’
Nigerian Christians, you must arise now!