Keeping the Church alert to the rebirth of society –
As politicians continue to prepare ahead of next year’s general election and everything in Nigeria now points to 2023, the Church in Nigeria is also taking the driver’s seat, or appears to have taken control of the cogs for attempt to run the affairs of the country. regarding the way Nigeria is governed in the future.
Previously, the Church in Nigeria, to a large extent, took precedence over Christians in politics with an indifferent attitude towards the actual act of voting and actively participating in politics.
Over the years, the Christian community has advanced the narrative of prayer for the nation and its leaders, which for many is seen as a biblical injunction to all believers. However, the Church, in observing its spiritual responsibilities to the country, has failed in its social responsibility to Nigeria and its citizens.
The Church, beyond being a spiritual entity, is also a social gathering for men and women of many dreams and inclinations. It is on this basis that Nigerians have complained about the Church leaders’ indifferent approach to politics, which has been condemned by many as a dirty game.
However, when men and women of proven integrity shun politics because of the way it is played, they automatically clear the space for people with low self-esteem and lower standards to make laws. and rule over people with proven track records in both the private and public sectors.
It is on this note that the recent “revival” of the Church has been judged as the right step in the right direction, in particular the declaration of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) that member churches observe Sunday 26 June as a PVC day.
According to the Community, the Church in Nigeria would continue to pay its quota to indivisible Nigeria, and that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had also opposed such a move that could further divide Nigerians along religious lines.
Therefore, the directive for the faithful to present their permanent voter card (PVC) before entering the Church, aims to keep the Church awake towards a revival of society in response to its civic obligation towards the country and its people.
“The whole Church in Nigeria speaks with one voice and if the political parties like us very much; they will meet us at the polls. Voter apathy which has been the problem will not count in this election,” said PFN Chairman Wale Oke at a recent press conference to declare PVC Day in Lagos.
According to him, next year’s elections have the potential to unite Nigeria across ethnic and religious boundaries and could also split the nation apart if things are not done right. He said Nigeria is currently at a crossroads as the 2023 general election could make or break the country.
Speaking to BusinessDay on the level of compliance across the country, Cosmas Ilechukwu, National Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said the Fellowship will fine-tune its strategy now that the National Electoral Commission (INEC) has accepted extend voter registration. .
According to him, the Fellowship was forced to quickly issue the directive on the assumption that registration will end on June 30. “So now we have a better time – we’ll go back to the drawing board and give it better publicity now. But, the place I attended; over 80% of the devotees came with their PVCs” , did he declare.
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Speaking on the way forward, Ilechukwu said churches are constrained by their internal means to convey information which is largely done through announcements during a Sunday service. However, he revealed that the Fellowship will most likely observe another PVC day, since the voter registration deadline has been extended.
“I would say the response is encouraging, but it hasn’t achieved the goal we set out to achieve. Appreciating that there was no Sunday between the time the directive was given and yesterday,” Ilechukwu said, referring to Sunday June 26 which was observed as PVC Day by the NFP .
Chidi Anthony, Presiding Bishop of Kings in Christ Power Ministries International and President of the Pentecostal Ministers’ Forum (PMF), on the other hand, told BusinessDay that he had been involved in the PVC campaign long before the PFN directive.
According to him, the fellowship’s directive to churches to observe a “no PVC, no entry” in the church is a welcome development. “I ran a serious ‘no PVC, no entry inside the church’ campaign. I believed it and made a video about it online.
“I am still working seriously with the INEC office to see if they can help us get someone into our church and set up a registration center. They said I should write them down; I did: they said I had to mobilize them; that’s what we’re doing now,” Anthony said.
Godfrey Emmanuel, NFP Publicity Secretary, Lagos Island Province, said the level of compliance is very encouraging. According to him, the campaign should continue to drive the desired change in governance by the body of Christ in Nigeria.
Eric Emiaso, the presiding archbishop of the Gospel Church of Christ (GCC) Worldwide, said the church is working to mobilize its members to fulfill their civic responsibility to the state. According to him, it is because we have no other source to change the current administration than by the only elections.
“We are part of the decision-making; so, it’s not a decision made by a group of people, I was there live. Last Sunday we told people to come with their PVC and people comply. There is compliance and this Sunday we are going to enforce it until we see every member is fully empowered with their PVC,” Emiaso said.
On the compliance level, he noted that the Church must engage in ongoing voter education and mobilization. “You know it’s systematic and we’ve never done this kind of thing before in the past; so I can say it’s about 50 percent now. So there is still time for us to apply it since people are reacting and I think this Sunday there will be more increase, ”he said.
Babatope Ilesanmi, president of Ikeja province of the NFP, said the level of compliance in his province was around 70%. According to him, most Pentecostal churches and parishes observed the directive in Ikeja and its surroundings.
“We have identified those who are not yet registered and we follow up personally to make sure they register. Many graphic designs are urging people to sign up and get their PVCs,” he said.