People of faith charged to participate in nation building
Based on their large population and ability to organise, it seems only natural that religious communities get involved in the electoral process and nation building. Since they constitute a large percentage of the population, they also have the responsibility to contribute to the development, as well as determine the nation’s fate.
It was in this light that the Good News Baptist Church (Men of Issachar Ministry) organised a one-day symposium titled: ‘The Christian in Nation Building’ last weekend, where eminent speakers discussed such topics as, election proceedings, women in politics, voters sensitisation, citizens’ rights and responsibilities, as well as requirements, participation and expectations in the forthcoming elections.
Kodi Iheme, Chairman, Men of Issachar Ministry, told guests that the church was established 10 years ago, with the mandate to deal with national-related issues to prevent members from being isolated from realities and happenings around them.
He said: “This is why we have been organising symposiums, where we invite eminent speakers that have in-depth understanding of the subject matters.
“As a church, we believe we should know what is happening around us and how to contribute our quota to society’s development. As a human being, whenever you are interested in what is happening around you, then you’re into politics. So, politicking is everywhere, even in the church. We have allowed culture to suffocate our common sense. If a woman is in the position to move forward on the corporate ladder, the church and family should encourage her,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), urged citizens and faith communities to help produce quality leaders, by mobilising their people to get more involved in political and electoral processes, because, “if the nation’s politics does not work, the church or mosque will also not work.”
He said: “Politics provides security and other basic things for the church and mosque. So, if those basic things don’t work, the faith communities will also not work. That interaction must be protected and promoted, by ensuring that people understand their civic duties and exercise them. It is very important, as people of faith, to take the country’s fate very seriously.
“We want to build a country that portrays us as God’s people; hence, the need to take the country seriously. If you take your country seriously, then you must also take your election seriously.”
He explained that women face many serious challenges, when trying to get involved in politics. For instance, the cost of entry is high, which many women cannot afford, due to economic pressure.
Honourable Nkoyo Toyo, former Ambassador to Ethiopia, said the country has an existential problem, and even with restructuring; there are no credible persons to take it to the Promised Land.
She said: “The church can produce credible people and should not wait for politicians to keep producing candidates for us. The faith community has not shown sufficient interest in the kind of leadership needed in the society.
“The church is the one place, where mobilisation can be successfully done, but Christians don’t seem to have interest in the country’s political affairs.
“It is not enough to just pray; the church also has the responsibility to build a better society, by getting involved, as they have the ability to organise.
“Part of the reasons women don’t participate in politics is because the church says it is wrong for them to do so. But the same church allows women to attend congresses that last for days without being questioned or doubted. So, until the church keys into the nation’s political affairs, we may keep experiencing dearth of women in politics.”
Mrs. Nnenna Okoro, an INEC representative, said it is important for Christians to know their rights to avoid being disenfranchised.
“Voting in 2019 is going to be strictly by smart card reader and voters are expected to stay 300 metres from polling units,” she explained.
She further explained that relocating after collecting PVC shouldn’t deprive people of participating in the election, as they are eligible for PVC relocation transfer, which can be done by going to INEC office in the local government and requesting for a transfer form.
She said: “Basically, the message we’re trying to pass across is that all hands must be on deck. Nigerians must all work hard to get it right this time; hence, the need to encourage everyone, especially students who are on social media to continue spreading the message, until everyone gets his/her PVC and detailed information about their rights and responsibilities as voters and citizens. ”
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