2019: ELECTIONS ARE HERE !… Not Yet “Uhuru” For The Church

Segun Okeowo

 

Written By:

Kolade Segun-Okeowo & Adepeju Akinyemi (Believers in Politics)

Elections: The much expected and anticipated electoral year is here. Nigerians will once again go to the polls to elect leaders of their choice at various levels. The frenzy is gradually reaching a crescendo. Campaigns are already going on while radio and television jingles are competing for attention.

 

The social media has gone gaga with reportage, reviews, and comments for/against the various candidates. The political landscape is heated once again as heavy financial “battles” will take place and the “war” for the control of the choices of electorates will commence.

 

By The end of the first week of March, it will be all over. Winners will emerge while the losers will be licking wounds, strategizing for appeals or getting ready to begin the process all over again in readiness for 2023.

 

In the last few years, the Body of Christ has awakened to the reality of the need for active participation in politics. Between 2015 and now, the level of political awakening and consciousness within the Church has increased tremendously. Several believers have become actively involved in partisan politics while few others have managed to clinch nomination tickets of their various political parties for different elective offices.

 

Apart from this, various advocacy groups and NGO’s like Believers in Politics, Let My People Vote, etc have become vigorously active in the championing of the cause of Christian involvement in Politics. Never in the history of Nigeria has political consciousness and awareness become this much.

 

Unfortunately, despite the successes we have recorded in the campaign for active participation of Christians in Politics, something very important is still missing and capable of undermining the efforts of various crusaders of believers involvement in politics.

Strategic Networking and Political Alliance on the part of believers is missing !!!

The Bible says, one will chase a thousand, and two will chase ten thousands. Wow! What a Mathematics! Let’s begin to imagine the ratio of results and impacts achievable when Christians enter into Strategic Networking and Alliances in their political pursuits.

Someone may ask, are we not already networking through various Christian political Advocacy Groups? Yes, we are already networking; but, until we start entering into Strategic Political Alliances, within and outside the Faith, we are not yet ready for Political enthronement.

By default, politics is a game of number! What is known as political parties today are a group of small caucuses or like-minded people like Believers in Politics, Let My people Vote, etc who came together to actualize their political visions and goals, by joining forces together to form a strong political force.

For example, People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) is the founding political group that gave birth to PDP. But, it didn’t become the strong PDP we know today until other ‘smaller’ political interest groups across the nation joined forces with them.

It equally  took the Funso Williams – led Network Alliance and Dapo Sarumi’s Primrose to give PDP a semblance of foothold in Lagos politics.

Similarly, PMB’s initial attempts to become the President of Nigeria remained a mirage until he decided to enter into strategic alliance with the Southwest ACN, Imo’s APGA, et al. It is important to add that the withdrawal of support of these ‘small’ political interests from GEJ‘s Presidential ambition that made him lose out in 2015.

Interestingly, these political interest groups have re-grouped and are re-grouping ahead of the 2019 general elections. These groups of people are the ones that eventually determine your fate and mine, post-election! Consequently, there’s little or no significant impact we can make as Christians in Politics until we start embracing and positioning ourselves for real politicking.

In the just concluded Ekiti and Osun State elections, we had some brethren as strong contenders in the gubernatorial race but, none of these ‘strong’ and ‘credible’ candidates made it through. The reason, among many others is not far-fetched- a Lack of Strategic Alliance among Christian politicians.

The time, energy, followership and resources mobilized by these individual candidates is capable of giving them the reckoning they deserve if they had jettisoned individual ambition and decided to work together as one; choosing to back up one of them. Unfortunately, they all seem to have seen God in a vision anointing them all to be Governor at the same time.

Error!!!

In Osun State for example, over 20 Governorship candidates were Christians who all claimed God had spoken to them to be Governor. Even when the leadership of the umbrella body of Christians, CAN tried mediating by urging all of them to choose a consensus candidate within themselves, individualism and self held sway. They all had divine mandate from heaven to rule Osun State !!!

On the long run, they all lost the election.

Had these brethren teamed up prior to the elections, most assuredly, their preferred candidate would have won the election. Even if that did not happen, the powers-that-be would have recognized them (as a formidable group) and negotiate with them on their interests in the in-coming government. This is a great lesson for all of us, as individuals and group, as we go into future elections.

The same scenario is playing out in Ogun State now as several of our brethren claim once again that God have spoken to them again to be governor, at the same time!

I have been privileged to speak to some of them and what I see is lone-ranging tendencies and spiritual pride. One told me God has already enthroned him so he needs no alliance with anybody. Another, said once God has spoken, therefore the voice of mere mortals do not matter.

Is this how to do politics?

Two weeks ago, I was part of a top level strategic political meeting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, where all the Guber hopefuls were analyzed. None of them made the top four list.

A synergy would have placed them ahead

The same situation is playing out in current National Politics where over 90 candidates wants to dethrone the incumbent. Even a political neophyte ought to know that, dethroning an incumbent is a herculean task, and only a grand alliance, the like the one that removed GEJ in 2015 could work, yet each one of these candidates holds tightly to the flag of his party. Isn’t this madness or some huge joke.

Ninety something candidates want to remove a sitting President?

Does simple common sense not tell them they will split and scatter votes? Sadly enough, many of these candidates are Christians. This is sad again. The need for strategic alliance is more apt now than ever before. Unfortunately, the major problem of many Christian political aspirants is the gullible desire to win elections at all cost.

A great example of the unimaginable feats achievable with Strategic Alliance / Partnership is recorded in the highly ‘ambitious’ Nehemiah’s project of rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem. He didn’t do it alone. He engaged the partnerships of like-minded Jews (smaller interest groups) from different parts of Jerusalem who shared his vision and were ready to give it all the support it required, Nehemiah 3:1-32. The Nehemiah National Re-birth Model is very relevant to us, Christians in Politics, in our quest towards enthroning Christians in political positions in Nigeria.

The Bible says, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’. This implies that, for Believers or Christians to be truly enthroned in politics, we must come together to form a formidable political ‘force’ that will shape the direction of Nigeria’s politics from 2023 and beyond. How to achieve this is not rocket science.

The Church is blessed with over 60 million adherents in Nigeria. This has remained a ‘raw’ and ‘untapped’ political resource ‘useless’ to the Church but very precious to the professional politicians, hence they regularly do everything possible to tap into this massive population for their own political benefits. So far, what the Church and other. Christian groups has done is to encourage Christians to register and vote, and I ask, For Who?

Vote for who?

The same people, with the same political ideology and beliefs. Same people, who at one time or the other have contributed, in no small measure to the mess being witnessed in our polity. We fall for their gimmicks with ‘re-branded’ names, logo and campaign promises. As Body of Christ, we directly or indirectly contribute to their ‘victory’ at the polls, due to our ‘non-align’ postures.

The question is, if the Church cannot play partisan politics, what is stopping a body of Christians, whose major focus is Politics from doing so.

What is most pathetic about the situation is that, we help ‘enthrone’ unGodly leaders who do not consult or reckon with us because, we refused to openly identify when necessary.

Going forward, Christian Political Advocacy groups and individual politically minded brethren must, as a matter of urgency start seeking opportunities for strategic political alliances with political parties, groups and individual ‘credible’ Christian and non-Christian candidates to enable us make the difference we have been ordained for in our national politics.

While I do not pretend that we will get it right, at first, we will get better at it as time goes on.

In Daniel 2:48-49, Daniel became a God-Father, by influencing the appointment of his like-minded brethren/Jews- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into Nebuchadnezzar’s government. This is what we are capable of achieving as Christians in Politics, if we walk together as one! By doing so, we will continue to strategically populate the polity with Godly leaders, like Daniel and his brethren. Remember, it didn’t start in one day, it took some time. First, Daniel and later his friends.

It’s a chain that will keep expanding with every new election or government

In the early days of Jesus’ Ministry, it took God Almighty Himself to openly ENDORSE HIM at River Jordan before people started accepting Him as the Saviour/Messiah. The same is true of very credible political candidates, particularly Christians. Without open endorsement and alliances with some of them, it will be very difficult for the world to reckon with them. If Jesus needed to leverage on God’s open endorsement, we all need same to help our political vision.

Finally, we need to remind brethren involved in politics that winning elections may not be the ultimate of a political career. If the large number of Christians who jostled to be Governor in Osun State had agreed to step down for one of them and work as a team, many of them would today have been in strategic offices, capable of moulding the destiny of that state.

Unfortunately, they wanted all and lost all.

Whereas, they could have been: Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Secretary to The State Government, Commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Advisers, Government Liaison Officers, Heads of Federal/State boards/Agencies and many more.

If truly, serving the state or the nation is paramount in the hearts of those brethren, these are also offices good enough for contributing positively to development and greatness of the society.

Ahead of 2023, our message in  The Body of Christ must be Synergy! Alliances!! Collaborations!!! Anything short of this is failure

2019 is gone…Let us begin to strategize for 2023 and beyond !!!

 

About Gbenga Osinaike

Gbenga Osinaike is a 1992 graduate of Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He specialised in Play-writing. He also holds a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Lagos. He was Assistant Editor in Punch Newspapers from where he resigned having worked for 13 years to start Church Times Nigeria in March 2007. He is currently the Nigeria representative of US based Institute of Global Church Studies and also the Publicity Secretary of the Lagos, Nigeria Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. He is married and blessed with two children.

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