Segun Babatunde, Bauchi
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has assured Christians that they are very safe under his watch if elected President come next month.
He said that as a born unifier, he believed in the integration of humanity at all levels and would do everything to promote unity in diversity. “
Atiku was speaking in Jos while gracing the 2023 extra-ordinary General Church Council of the Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA.
Speaking through the former Speaker, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, the former VP, said God did not make any mistake in creating people and allowing them to belong to different tribal, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
According to him, “A divided Nigeria cannot achieve the purpose of God for us as a people. A divided country will only keep us in darkness and chains. All through my lifetime, I have lived and worked harmoniously with people of other faiths and ethnic affiliations with ease because of mutual understanding and respect.
“My business and political partners come from different backgrounds with zero expressions of religious or ethnic sentiments. I have never contemplated same faith ticket throughout my political career because it will result in unmitigated disaster for all Nigerians.
“No statesman at the incipient adopts a position that cleary excludes nearly half the country and still hope to do the work Nigria is in dire need of. No matter how hard and skilful one dresses the same faith ticket, it is an open invitation to anarchy and a clear statement that not everyone will be carried along in government.”
He continued, “As Governor- elect of Adamawa State, in 1999, I gave my full backing, against all odds, to Boni Haruna to take over when I was nominated Vice President. Boni governed Adamawa for eight uninterrupted years. Also, in Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame was encouraged to contest the governorship in 1999 with my full backing. We have and are still working together with many Christians across the nation, and the Church should have confidence in my capacity, experience, and ability to deliver credible leadership that unites our people and empower Nigerians of all creed to live together in peace and harmony.”
Atiku appreciated Christians all over the nation for their prayers and commitment to the nation, and assured that he will not relent in cementing a cordial relationship between Christians and Muslims at all times.
“The church stands to get a lot under my watch as President of this nation if elected. I will do everything possible if elected to rid Nigeria of conflict entrepreneurs and profiteers in order to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria’s advancement. This must be the case if we ever hope to realise our full potentilas as a nation”.
“No society in history has ever remained disunited and still kept its civilisation. Politics is not enough reason to keep us divided. A divided Nigeria can not take any of us anywhere. If Nigeria is divided, both Christians and Muslims will suffer. I am proud to say that I have a strong partner in Governor Okowa, who is not only a Christian but a man of abiding faith in Nigeria and our people. I am cinvinced beyond doubt that, together with Gov Ifeanyi Okowa as Vice President, we will take Nigeria to the desired greater heights.”
He commended ECWA for sustaining the annual extra- ordinary GCC Council meeting where progress and developments are reviewed and new working strategies are adopted. He prayed for wisdom and strength for the ECWA leadership to continue to provide good leadership for the church.
Speaking for himself, Dogara admonished Christians to take stock of what each presidential candidate has done for Northern Christians and meditate on it.
Quoting copiously from the Bible, Dogara likened Atiku to the popular centurion in the Bible, whose faith was acknowledged by Jesus and of whom the Jews spoke glowingly to Jesus about his love for the jews and the fact that he even built a synogogue for them.
He queried why the present Church is not attracting centurions anymore and urged the clergy to reflect hard and long on that.
Citing Governors Boni Haruna and Rev Jolly Nyame, he said those two represent two solid synagogues Atiku had built for the Church and challenged Christians to examine other candidates and if they have done what Atiku has done, then they can vote for them.
He also warned that the presidency does not change the president in a way that he will start doing what he is not known for overnight.
“The presidency can only reveal who the president is. None of them will start doing the good work they haven’t done for the Church in the past just because they have been elected president”.
He said that on their part, they settled for Atiku following a scientific analysis of the various candidates, which was transparently carried out. Do not waste your votes by casting them elsewhere so that we won’t lament like Job in the Bible who said, “the things I greatly feared have come upon me.”
“No believer should waste his vote because the God we serve does not tolerate waste. We believe very strongly in the coming together and living together of Nigerians of all creed in order for us to make progress, hence our rejection of the same faith ticket.
According to Dogara, “Christianity is serving the God of justice, and justice is indivisible.
He said for those querying why should a Muslim succeed another muslim, let them not forget that from 1999 to date Christians in President’s Obasanjo and Jonthan have ruled Nigeria for 14years while Muslims in Presidents Yar’adua and Buhari have ruled for 10years. He said he sees himself in Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan and no Christian who stands for the truth will say otherwise and we must acknowledge that between Christians and Muslims, it’ ll take another 4 years before we level up. Any one that denies this denies the truth, and anyone who denies the truth is not of Christ because the devil is the father of all lies”.
Dogara apologised for the absence of Atiku and Okowa at the occasion, saying that it was not out of disrespect for the Church but because they were both in Ekiti for the nationwide presidential rally.
In his remark, the President of ECWA, Rev Dr Stephen Baba Panya appreciates Atiku for finding time to give attention to what the church is doing and for sending eminent political leaders to grace the church’s GCC meeting.
He particularly commented Atiku for sending Dogara to represent him because the latter has excellent standing with the Church even before joining politics.
He concluded that the church is watching, monitoring, and listening to all the candidates and will take a decision according to its convictions soon.