Andy Esiet, Calabar
Former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have decried recent practice of Christian clergymen in Nigeria getting involved in partisan politics and turning their altars to political campaign platforms.
Ndoma-Egba who said this yesterday during the Breakfast Prayer session organized by the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, Senator Bassey Otu in Calabar pointed out that “churches are fast becoming political parties”.
He recalled the extremely partisan role of some prominent church leaders in the run in to the recent Presidential election and the recent purported endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate of one of the parties in Cross River State by a faction of the State chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) as another untoward development that has dragged the church into the murky waters of partisan politics.
The Senator reminded the audience that “all men are equal before God and that should translate to equality of political aspirations’ and wondered why ” the clergy, who should be God’s messengers, are the ones actively promoting division and disunity amongst God’s people by using the church as campaign platforms for a select few”.
Ndoma-Egba further bemoaned the fact that the opposition candidate has resorted to the destructive politics of ethnicity and religion as the anchor points of his campaign pointing out the irony in the fact that the same person championing ethnic and religious sentiments today was amongst those of them who fought the ugly development of Atam Congress, an ethnic campaign by disgruntled politicians from the Central and Northern senatorial districts between 1999-2003, when Governor Donald Duke was leading the State.
In his remarks at the event, one of the CAN leaders in the state, Fr. Bob Etta, condemned recent endorsement of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state Senator Sandy Onor for the March 11 governorship election.
Etta told the gathering that the clergy present in the event represent all the five blocs that make up the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) which are: Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN); Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) /Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN); Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) and TEKAN and ECWA Fellowship.
He added that “the PFN is a subset of the CPFN/PFN bloc of CAN and as such cannot speak the position of all Christians in Cross River State”.
In this regards, he decried the antics of a section of PFN leaders in the State to endorse a candidate of one party instead of leaving their doors open and playing a fatherly and advisory role to all the candidates across partisan divides. He assured that the majority of Christian leaders in Cross River State are more interested in helping to enthrone a God-fearing leader that will take Cross River State to higher levels of all round development.
In his homily during the event, the General Overseer of the Christian Central Chapel International and the National Publicity Secretary of PFN, Bishop Emmah Isong, preached on the need for the clergymen to be circumspect with getting too involved in partisan politics.
He prayed for the Holy Spirit to grant the clergymen “the power of discernment, tolerance and commitment to the general good of the people”.
Isong who took his text from 1 Kings 3:16-28 on the judgment of King Solomon when two women came to the King with two young babies- one alive and one dead and both claimed that the living child was their own and that the other woman was only pretending to be the mother of the surviving infant.
He said the lesson here is that “any leader, whether religious or political, who will rather see Cross River State go up in flames as a result of division is not a person who can be trusted to provide the love and nurture, the safety and refueling that the State is currently in dire need of”.
Also speaking at the event which was attended by a wide array of clergymen in Cross River State, the APC candidate, Sen. Prince Bassey Otu reiterated the fact that he is running the election on his established and incontrovertible record of service to the people.
He restated that, “it is only those who do not have anything to offer that are resorting to ethnicity and religion to create division” as he thanked the clergymen for their overwhelming presence in the event as well as their godly admonitions as custodians of the State’s spiritual wellbeing and promised to be a servant leader to all Cross Riverians no matter their tribe or religion.
The State Deputy Chairman of PFN, Apostle Trinity Ogar led the other clergy in a prayer session for Sen. Bassey Otu, Cross River State, Nigeria as well as the sick, aged and weak.