Recently, the Rivers State Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PEN) held a press conference in Port Harcourt to update the public on some of the group’s activities in Rivers State, in particular.
Among others, one of the key revelations made by the State Chairman of the PFN, Reverend (Dr) Minaibi Dagogo-Jack was the preparedness of the organization to play an active role in the upcoming general elections of 2023.
On this occasion, Reverend Dagogo-Jack said that the Christian organization has started the process of sensitizing and mobilizing its members to become actively involved in political activities that will culminate in the general elections next year. . To that end, he said the NFP had, in effect, established a Directorate of Politics and Good Governance to organize and coordinate activities that would educate and encourage members to engage in partisan politics at all levels and in all ramifications.
Discussing this development and other trending issues in the regime during an exclusive chat with The Tide at his Port Harcourt office earlier in the week, the leader of the Rivers State Pentecostal group said his organization was motivated by the need to enthrone justice in society, pointing out that the country’s political class had largely failed the citizens.
He said the situation where the church remained detached from the process by which political parties selected candidates for elective office could no longer continue, arguing that on several occasions the quality of candidates emerging from party primaries was not pretty good.
“Before now the church was so far from real politics and the church was waiting for the political parties to choose their flbearers and then we start praying to God,” he said, adding that praying when the decision had been taken was faulty. in the sense that sometimes it would be like asking God to choose among all the bad alternatives.
Dagogo-Jack said: ”I think if parties A, B, C had chosen their flag bearers and you started praying, if for example, they all chose monkeys, that means that one of the monkeys will emerge. So what we’re saying is that we should be involved in the party flag-bearer selection process. We also need to be genuinely involved in the whole electoral process.”
According to the state’s NFP boss, who was once a Fresh Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate in the state, Christian politicians have no choice but to join one of the political parties. existing in the country since the Constitution only allows political parties to present candidates for election in Nigeria.
The cleric said he was convinced that the social, political and economic problems of the country could not be solved until righteous people ascended the throne of leadership at all levels of the country. He called on true Christians to take up the challenge of saving the nation from the disaster that awaits them by registering in political parties and standing for election to positions of power and authority.
“I again called on the Christian body, especially those under my leadership to go and register, get their permanent voter cards and also get involved in partisan politics. The constitution requires that you must belong to a political party before you can be elected,’ he warned, reiterating that the current generally dark and gloomy atmosphere in the country presents a golden opportunity for Christians to demonstrate their identity as light and salt of the world.
“After prayer, prayer and prayer, we must participate in politics,” he insisted, saying it was wrong for Christians to continue to view politics as a dirty game and that it should therefore be left to less decent and worthy people.
According to the Christian leader, from the conceptual stage, the policy was meant for decent personages and people of honor, pointing out that even the Nigerian constitution provides that only clean people will be involved in politics when it prohibits convicts and dignitaries. ‘other people of questionable character to challenge. or occupying sensitive public functions.
“So if you think that because we are church leaders and therefore shouldn’t be involved in politics, you are making a big mistake.
”Thank goodness one of our prayers has been answered, and that is the deployment of electronic devices in the electoral process. We believe that if we mobilize our people and tell them to vote for party A or candidate B and they move, it will show the politicians that the church wants something. 85% of Nigerian politicians don’t have the fear of God in them and therefore treat people with so much disdain. There has to be change and we are ready for it,” he said.
When reminded that the country had not fared much better even when Christians were in power, the cleric retorted that a Christian was not necessarily a righteous person and only righteous people could perform. the desired change in the fortunes of the nation.
“A man can be a Christian but not righteous. Only by righteousness can the nation be exalted. We will seek out the righteous and the church will point them out. At the end of the day, the church will look at those who have emerged and point to the righteous.
“We believe that if an environment is dirty, it will take a righteous man to clean it up. In a large house, there are vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor. The vessels of honor are the bearers of justice and they are the ones to whom we will direct our members,” he argued.
When asked if the PFN was going to form a political party or if it already had a particular political party that it would support and therefore ask its members to go and register, Dagog-Jack replied: “There is currently political parties and we have asked our members to join the one of their choice, we ask them to join the process leading to the selection of candidates and at the end of the day we will see who and who have emerged and we will seek the spirit of righteousness in them and then make our choice. However, forming and registering a political party is a good idea but we haven’t started anything in that direction.”
Regarding his prospects for the 2023 general elections, the religious leader expressed his optimism that 2023 offers better and brighter prospects in the country’s electoral history and urged Nigerians, especially the political class, to prepare for a brutal shock.
“What I see is that God is going to shock people. God will shock Nigerians in 2023,’ he said, explaining that just as God has surprised the world in how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected developed countries more severely than less privileged countries with systems health weaker and more vulnerable, It will greatly disappoint the powerful and entrenched politicians in the country.
“Some people think they have the political power, the politics where with, the political strength and the money, they will be disappointed,” he said while expressing the view that the 2022 electoral law will make a big difference in our electoral system. .
“Secondly, many things will not be the same in 2023 with the deployment of technology in the electoral process. Rigging is going to be minimized, if not eliminated. The problems of excessive results, phantom names in the voter register and various irregularities such as violence, ballot box theft and ballot box stuffing will be eliminated.
“Under the new law, political parties have up to six months instead of the previous three months to solicit votes. There is plenty of time for the parties to campaign in every nook and cranny of the country. We therefore expect that the result that will come can be considered as a result that truly reflects the wishes of the population, in particular with the electronic transmission of the results of the polling stations. So I think there will be a big difference in our electoral system in 2023,” he said.
“Our national leaders have decided and I am only talking about their decision here, that the next President of Nigeria must come from the South. This is the position of the NFP worldwide, the Christian Head of State insisted.
He said his corps members would also not be kind to a Muslim/Muslim ticket in the 2023 presidential election when they are wholeheartedly for a Christian as president.
“Our brothers, the Muslims, through Muhammadu Buhari, produced the president for eight years. For the sake of justice and fairness, we Christians are asking for a Christian president this time. This is what we stand for and we have not budged from this position,” the Charist clergyman said.
As to whether he himself was interested in elective office in 2023, the former governor’s flag bearer said he has no such plans, but his organization will encourage, support and assist its members. who wanted to run for a position at any level.
“PFN cannot sponsor any candidate. It is up to the political parties alone to do so. However, PFN can help in their prayers and also help lead our people to vote for a candidate. You say approve, I say we’re going to point our hands at particular candidates for our people to vote. That’s what we’re going to do,’ he said, saying research indicates Pentecostals are up to 65 million and they are ready to deploy that force to good effect in the general election. of 2023.
By: Opaka Dokubo