It is no more news that those who look beyond their feet as it relates to governance in Nigeria will testify that it is no more “business as usual”. There is overwhelming applause to the current leadership style in Nigeria. There is also overpowering demand for the man at the helms of affairs to continue beyond 2019 to stabilize Nigeria’s economy by building the solid foundation for sustainable security and socio-political growth. My previous article surveyed the stand of the Nigeria’s traditional institution over the bid of President Muhammadu Buhari to contest in the presidential polls in 2019. Summarily, the survey which touched on the reactions from first class and influential traditional rulers across Nigeria showed that 90 percent of them are totally in solidarity with the continuity of his administration beyond 2019.
Here I am in another huge task of gathering the feelings from the Church on the burning national issue. To ease this national assignment, I’ll like to to beam my searchlight on some prominent Church leaders and capture their stance on the matter. I did not bother to discuss feelings from the Mosques because, naturally, people think it is settled for the President despite there are still at the moment some Imams and Islamic organizations in the north strongly opposed to his re-election bid. Here we go to the Churches, the Catholic and the Pentecostals!
When the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria met with Buhari in Aso Rock Villa, there was a heart-to-heart free discussion on issues of national interest including the current and future of Nigeria. The Bishops led by their President, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and their secretary, Most Rev. Dr. William Avenya Bishop of Gboko, were unanimous in pledging support to President Buhari for his efforts in rebuilding Nigeria. “As we encourage you to spare no effort to build a new Nigeria, we reassure you of our support and prayers for your success. On the long run, government under your watch must do all in its power through good policies to restore confidence that government is for all and sundry”, they declared.
Also after meeting with the President in the Aso Rock Villa, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Sampson Ayokunle, told State House correspondents that Buhari was in position to move Nigeria forward. He described Buhari as a humble leader who has listening ears and a man who stand tall for nation-building. “Christian leaders are very humbled by the calm disposition of the President… the people who don’t talk are the enemies of the nation. When you see things going wrong, you quickly speak out so that they can be corrected, so that the nation can move together as one”, Ayokunle declared.
The most recent event from the Churches of Nigeria was a nationwide march in compliance with the directive of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to protest the wanton bloodletting across the country, with a call on President Buhari to end the carnage or forget his 2019 re-election bid. The good news is that the protest was peaceful. The CAN message to Buhari is equally clear: Its implication is that CAN will support him for 2019 reelection only if he can stop the killings across Nigeria. The Christian assemblage recognized, however, that the killing of innocent patriots predates Buhari’s regime. On that note, there is the indication that the CAN president will call for massive votes for Buhari who is out to stop the killings by hired mercenaries. Addressing the protesters, the CAN leader said Christians all over the country are gathered and united to denounce bloodshed in Nigeria. “Since 2009, bloodshed has continued, government after government, administration after administration has been promising us not to fear and go about our business; that they are on top of the situation, but we have seen that they are never on top of it”, he declared.
In an encounter with the CAN chairman in Ogun, Bishop Tunde Akinsanya told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abeokuta the support for Buhari’s continuity became necessary in order to realize the plan of God for the country. He charged Nigerians to support Buhari’s administration as the only way to achieve greatness, adding that Nigerians must prayer for the country and support Buhari as the only key that can solve the nation’s problems. “If we all join hands in praying sincerely for the country, all the challenges facing the country will be a thing of the past”, Akinsanya declared.
The Archbishop of Ibadan, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN), Most Reverend Michael Kehinde Stephen seems overwhelmed by Buhari’s leadership charisma. He supports Buhari, especially because of his war on corruption and feels he is posed to re-position Nigeria. He calls on Nigerians to stop distracting Buhari’s government with unnecessary criticisms for a focused implementation of policies to take the nation to greater heights. He hails the president for the ‘liver’ to talk and fight corruption in a country where the past government had no definition for corruption and for allowing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to do their work. According to him, those criticizing this government are wasting their time. “Corruption is so endemic”, Reverend Stephen declared.
However, the Reverend wants a comprehensive and al-inclusive war on corruption, yet he is convinced that the government is doing its best to carry every segment of the society along. He describes as the greatest insult to Nigerians the forgiveness sought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its quest to return to power. “The apology means nothing. Let the PDP return the loot they have deprived Nigerians”, he declared.
The President, Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide, Pastor Abraham Akinosun recently charged the Churches in Nigeria to stop complaining but pray for Buhari to overcome all the challenges facing the nation. Akinosun, while ministering at the Grand Finale of a Seven-Day Fasting and Prayer for Nigeria, organized in Osun state by Evangelist Felix Adunpe, General Overseer, Signs and Wonders Prayer Ministries in collaboration with the CAC, appealed to Christians to support the nation’s leadership. He said that leaders fail because citizens fail to pray for them. He warned against abusing or cursing leaders because the consequences are definitely borne by all citizens. “If we pray for our leaders, God will inspire them and everything will be all right. We should not lose hope in Nigeria”, he declared.
The leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye led large number of men and women of God in three-hour interdenominational prayers for Nigeria at the Redemption Camp of the church, where he urged Nigerians to pray for Buhari’s success. According to him after the event, prayers were said for President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Assembly leaders, Governors and LGA chairmen as well as the Judiciary. There were prayers for them to rule with the fear of God; for good leadership and for peace in the land. And for the 2019 elections, the congregation prayed for God to choose leaders He deems fit for the country at all levels of governance.
General Overseer of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Kumuyi, has the belief that Buhari has a track record to change Nigeria for good. While addressing journalists at Kaduna airport after presiding over his church crusade, he expressed optimism in the Buhari’s administration, hoping to see focus on the drive to bringing the desired change in Nigeria’s governance and development. “I believe we will see change”, he observed, insisting that Buhari can correct the mistakes of the past governments within his tenures.
The founder and Senior Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has backed Buhari’s bid. He said the President has every constitutional right to seek re-election. Bakare assured of his support for Buhari, saying “It is a secret vote, for that it remains my secret.” And as for Pastor Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, President Buhari is on the right course to continue beyond 2019.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, received President Buhari in London, he was very clear of his conviction in Buhari’s ability to turn around Nigeria’s fortunes. He describes as a great honour the meeting of Buhari and expressed satisfaction with the discussions both leaders had including Nigeria’s future. “It was an honour to meet President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in London. We discussed the complex security situation in Nigeria and their government’s efforts to address it, and I offered support in seeking a sustainable solution”, he declared. He recalled his highlights on the vital role that churches in England play not just in educating a million children, but in providing them with values, identity and purpose. He called for prayers for the peace and progress of Nigeria.
I want to conclude this piece with Yakubu Pam Gam’s write-up in the Peoples Daily titled: Buhari and Northern Christians where he maintained that the President has carved a niche for himself through a dint of hard work, honesty and straight forwardness on issues of national and international interest which has placed him in a position to redefine the true coexistence of Nigerians. He declared that Buhari’s upright family, individual upbringing and training as a military officer inculcated very good virtues and love for humanity have distinguished him from others. According to him, Northern Nigerian Christians love Buhari and they will show it again with the votes they gave him in 2015. “This buttresses their stand on his competence and ability to deliver”, he stated.
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