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The Lagos State Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Bishop Stephen Adegbite and other Christian communities stakeholders have tasked the All Progressives Congress, ahead of the general elections to ensure good governance in the country.
This forms the thrust of the message garnered from the sensitisation session and engagement forum organized by the APC State Campaign Committee of Religious Affairs with Lagos Christian community on Thursday at Ikeja.
Speaking with newsmen after the parley the CAN Chairman Bishop Stephen Adegbite vehemently asserted the preparedness of the Christian community to discountenance sentiments and speak truth to power at all times.
“This is the first political party that will invite us for a parley which has afforded opportunities to ask them questions and they have responded and we hoped that every response they’ve given today will be implemented.
“The government we are going to enthrone come May 2023 must be responsive, must be a government that would be accountable and we are going to ask questions throughout whoever emerges as the Governor, President the time of sit-down-look is over we are going to be asking questions and they must give us satisfactory answers.
“The mind of the Church especially for us in Lagos Southwest and what we want in Nigeria is a government that will be involving,one that belongs to everybody a government that all of us will cooperate with whether a Christian or Muslim we want good governance.
“We don’t mind whoever occupies the office but we are saying let there be good governance in Nigeria and we must look into peoples track records what they have done in the past, what we believed they can still do if given a bigger opportunity and that is why for us in Lagos State the last 23years have been wonderful and devoid of sentiments.
“People that have occupied the state House have delivered and we can see the dividend of democracy in Lagos. For the first time in Nigeria there is a light rail that is working, you have the commissioning of the fourth mainland bridge and there are many developments in the health sector, these are things that we want people to enjoy all over our nation.”
The cleric also took time to allay the fears of many Nigerians over the perceived crisis and violence that may rock the coming election, declaring that nothing of such will happen that rather peace will reign all through the electoral process and thereafter.
“So let us focus on good governance and let’s forget about sentiments, whether you are a Christian or Muslim you must ensure that you deliver the dividend of democracy this time around that is what we are up for and whoever emerges must do that for us if not we will come back to press and criticize you.
“If you do well we are going to come and praise you and pray for you but our primary duty is pray for Nigeria and also to say to all false prophets all evil predictions will not come on this nation. God is saying to Nigeria ‘peace be still’.
“There will be no violence, there will be no crisis before during and after elections. So whoever is thinking of that should put it in their pockets. God is bigger than any human being and he is the one that will decide for our nation, he has taken a decision and we are going to stand by the decision of the almighty God.” Bishop Adegbite reiterates.
For some other stakeholders Christian community of the state who spoke about what they referred as the needless furore on Muslim/Muslim ticket adopted by APC, as good governance and delivery of the dividends of democracy outweighed any religious colouration and sentiments being whipped up in and outside the party.
Dr. Dele Asaaju the Assistant Secretary of CAN Lagos State was quick to note that Muslim/Muslim ticket issue is a national one for which Lagos avoids involvement.
“Muslim Muslim ticket is a national issue, we don’t have any problem with it in Lagos let Asiwaju assure them, it is because you invited us that we are here,if other parties calls us we will honour them, we are your fathers as religious leaders, the status is till death.
“We will not tarnish our name because of politics, assure them that they should not be afraid, prove to them there that there is no issue.”
Bishop Michael Oludare Olorunkanmi a leader of CAN at the local government level also stated that given his knowledge of Tinubu’s personality he is not a religious bigot.
He however, cautioned that given the number of clerics he represents the feelers at the local government level is not encouraging as regards inclusiveness..
“I represent over 400 Pastors of different denominations they are not happy with the council bosses, they ought to bring them on board to work for the good of all.
For Reverend Tunde Elebute the health sector in the state is topnotch and worthy of commendation, he however corroborated Bishop Olorunkanmi on the need for much more inclusion of the clerics at the council level as evident with the state government.
Bishop Kayode Williams who was present at the parley charged the Christian community to be more accommodating to those he referred to as itinerant men of God.
Reverend Mother Foluke Oseni representing the Iya Aladura General note that much support should be accorded Asiwaju,while urging them all to get thee PVC which stands the only way to actualize Asiwaju’s ambition.
An ECWA representative at the forum also spoke about the need for peace in the nation adding that people in the middle belt are so concerned about having peace to be able to go about their normal with less friction, fear and trepidation.
Responding to the concerns of the Christian community, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole the Director Lagos State Campaign Committee on Religion vowed to ensure all the stated issues will be critically addressed, he averred that the forum targets evolving a smoother relationship with the Christian and other religious communities in the state more than ever before.
Danmole note that: “Though we know in Lagos whether you are Christian or Muslim we believe in APC but you see the problem we have is that the national group are trying to distract the people of Lagos.
“One thing we are sure of is to tell our people to talk to ourselves, that this time around the man who we are all trying to work for to be the President of Nigeria-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the Governor of Lagos State since 1999,and he is the person who laid the foundation of the good governance we are having in Lagos today.
“He is God sent for the prosperity of Nigeria. He has done the Blueprint for 20 years and that is what every governor that comes in is following and you can see what is going on in Lagos.
On the none inclusion of clerics in the council government Danmole has this to say.
“The non inclusion at the local government level informs why some of them are not talking to us is because they are not recognised at the local government level, so we are going to take it up immediately with the local government.
“We are going to mandate them to replicate what we are doing here at the local government level with the Christian and Muslim community it must be a permanent thing.
“It will not be because of election period only, that is the only way you can get them, I as former Home Affairs Commissioner still maintain good relations with all of them, that is why I could galvanize this number of people here today.
“You need to keep the relationship it is not only when we need people for election that we start looking for them that is what democracy is all about.
Speaking on behalf of the APC Chairman in Lagos State Pastor Ojelabi, Hon. Olayinka Oladunjoye the Vice Chairman APC (East) and Deputy Director General Campaign Lagos state,appreciated the opportunity the parley affords the party, stressing that the bidding of the religious community will be given consideration.
“We want to thank them for this opportunity, for the engagement and interactions we’ve listened to them they’ve told us all they need from us as government and we’ve told them what we want as party and want to assure them that all they’ve asked us to do we will do.
“Good governance, security, infrastructure we will do all these and it is going to be an inclusive government.
Oladunjoye however, urged women to participate in partisan politics citing the special attributes nature endowed in them.
“I am always very happy when I hear women getting engaged and doing politics because for me we know where it pinches, we are women, we are mothers when they come out to do politics it is good for them and you know we are sympathetic by nature.
“ I recommend women and I want to encourage women to come out and do politics. I am a politician and I am happy doing it, it gives me pleasure and is a thing I enjoy doing.
“So I encourage women, though I know we have constraints sometimes our husbands will not allow us, time will not be there for us but whatever time we have, whatever opportunities we have let’s seize the momentum let’s come out and do politics.
“It is an interesting venture if we all sit down and say we don’t want to do it nobody will do it for us. It is not served al-arc-at you just have to go there and seek for it and do it when the opportunity arises.” Said Oladunjoye.
Dr. Kayode Opeifa an APC Chieftain, former Commissioner of Transportation and Special Adviser during Governor Babatunde Fashola era also a stakeholder in the campaign team gave a trajectory of Tinubu’s tolerant mien to the religious community.
According to him Tinubu’s life epitomizes good neighbourly attributes as visibly displayed in the composition of state cabinet while he was governor in Lagos state.
He also noted that the combination of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kassim Shettima is a perfect blend of tolerant individuals and not religious bigots as their charitable radiates round both the Muslim and Christian communities across the country.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as an individual in combination with Shettima is what Nigeria needs , what we need at this time is not that someone is a Muslim or Christian but somebody to deliver good governance in Nigeria, and bring about all the forthright all the things that divide us we are one.
“We are brothers and sisters and from experience and his life from childhood and short experience in governance all that time he had to build men.
“He had demonstrated that religion though important to build souls and minds, must not be the determining factor. He will not make it a discriminatory issue.
“His government voluntarily decided to hand over to a Muslim, having appointed a balanced cabinet not only the Muslim and Christian consideration he also balanced the gender, he has also balanced the ethnic consideration in the government he has control over.
He also cited Tinubu’s tolerance with his wife, who is a Christian and his none interference with his children’s choice of religion as they are majorly Christians as a clear signal of his humane disposition.
“Religious differences has never been a factor, he is a balanced man. He is one Nigerian that can address the issues confronting us, the issues of insecurity, education,funding,health, youth, employment, those are the issues that confront us.
“What the Bible teaches us is to look for people who are righteous, good to govern appropriately Asiwaju represent that.
“We are telling the Christian community not to be deceived, not to be distracted, not to be allowed to be deceived, to look back and make the appropriate judgement based on facts and realities, based on what they have seen and we believe that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Shettima ticket is the best for Nigeria.
Reverend Dr. Sam Ogedengbe Deputy Director Religious Affairs APC committee and former S.A to the Governor on Christian Matters, while commenting on the importance of the gathering note that nothing less 75 percent votes will be galvanized from the Christian community in Nigeria.
“We are starting with CAN which is an umbrella body of all Christians organisation, we are trying to reach them, so that we can mobilize them, we are going to get close to about 75 percent of Christians votes both in Lagos and Nigeria.
“We are going to do that and replicate it in other states working with CAN and other Christian communities, we have here the nongovernmental organisations and CAN, that is how we are going to do it and we going to mobilize and sensitise them to understand what we are doing.
“I believe much in what you can do,Asiwaju has what it takes to govern and choosing another Muslim does not matter to us, what we want is good governance not about religion.”
Hon Ipoola Omisore, an Assistant Director of Campaign in Lagos APC also note that a vote for Asiwaju and Sanwo-Olu will guarantee much more involvement in governance.
“The All Progress Congress in Lagos state has deemed it fit to meet the Christian community,to explain what we stand for and to let them know that we are supposed to carry them along in the coming government and urge them to support Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for presidency and for the possible return of Sanwo-Olu for second time.”
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