The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) was inaugurated by the President of CAN on Thursday 15th January, 2015 as an Advisory, Mediatory, Reconciliatory, and Enlightening body of Christians Elders from the six geo-political zones of the country for CAN. The NCEF works within and outside the Church to advocate for Christianity.
In this Report, the NCEF provides reasons why Christian consensus for 2019 Elections may not be as effective as desired. The Report is provided to prompt Christians to take corrective measures for now, and for the future.
REASON NUMBER 1: CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP
Immediately after the 2015 General Elections, the NCEF reviewed the outcome and concluded that Nigerian Church has some major problems:
1. The Church is not united; Christians do not speak with one voice
2. Most Christians are naïve and politically ignorant
3. Christians serve as collaborators with the Islamists
It was decided that the problems should be solved. The first step was to embark on Unity and Reconciliation meetings with leaders of the 5 Blocs of CAN. This was followed with meetings with the Executives of CAN, the six Zonal Chairmen of CAN and the States Chairmen of CAN from the 36 States and FCT. At the end of the exercise, the NCEF produced a 184-page Report for CAN and from the Report produced the first Strategy Document for the Nigerian Church. (It should be pointed out that the failure of CAN to implement the Strategy Document is partly responsible for the current defeat of the Church in all spheres.)
The Reconciliation Meetings yielded good results and if it had been constructively nurtured, Christian consensus on many issues, including politics, would have been very easy. Unfortunately the reverse was the case.
As the NCEF was working on Christian Unity, it was at the same time engaging the political naivety of Christians by seeking to build bridges with Christians in Governance. The NCEF met with the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Christian Senators led by Senator Hope Uzodinma, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and some Christian Governors. In order to engage political establishments, NCEF met with the Chairman and Executives of PDP, APC, and APDA. After meeting various political leaders in Nigeria, NCEF met with the High Commissioner of Britain to engage him on developments in the country and raise concern on the compromise of democratic values in Nigeria.
All these while, NCEF was assessing the political direction that would promote Democracy in the interest of the entire country as well as protect Christians and Christian interests. It is also instructive to note that from its inception in 2015 to date in 2018, NCEF has produced 108 papers advocating for Democracy and Christianity in Nigeria.
After all the consultations and deliberations, NCEF proposed to convene a meeting of Christian leaders to provide Report of its activities and begin building Christian consensus for 2019. The late General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, was approached to inform the President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle and explain what NCEF has in mind as well as solicit his approval. The President of CAN gave his consent to the meeting and it was scheduled for Thursday 10th May, 2018 at the National Christian Center, Abuja.
Surprisingly, on 6th May, 2018, NCEF received a written message circulated by the President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, which states inter alia, “Let me call your attention to the letter dated 26th of April 2018 and signed by the General Secretary of CAN that I directed him to invite all church leaders to a meeting on the 10th of May to come and listen to a report of the National Christian Elders Forum on their meeting with British Government. I did not authorize such a meeting at any time. The meeting does not have the blessing of National Executive of CAN. This type of action is divisive and the invitation was not from me nor from CAN leadership.”
This was AFTER he had granted approval!
To press the deception home, the CAN President falsely invoked the National Executive of CAN as taking the decision. CAN has a five-man Executive as follows: The President, the Vice President, the General Secretary, the Treasurer, and the Asst. General Secretary. Both the Vice President and the General Secretary did not join in this decision and the Treasurer was not available as of that period. So, which Executive took the decision?
After reviewing the development with the late General Secretary, the NCEF resolved to proceed with the meeting more so when the General Secretary gave the assurance that the CAN President gave him approval and if he changed his mind, he should simply have said so and give reasons but not to deny what he said earlier. Therefore, the NCEF proceeded.
When the President of CAN learnt that NCEF was proceeding, he sent another message on 7th May, 2018 which also states inter alia, “I need to let you know that since the National Executive Committee of Christian Association of Nigeria and I did not approve the meeting the National Christian Elders Forum want to hold with church leaders in Nigeria, the National Christian Centre must not be used for that meeting. Let those under you in the office who hold the keys to the Centre be well informed about this. I am sending this email to the Bloc Leaders for their information.” This is another falsehood since the National Executive Committee (NEC) of CAN did not meet to pass a resolution that the meeting should not hold.
Certain issues arise from these developments:
1. Why was the President of CAN desperate to prevent Christians from meeting to discuss a Christian political agenda? Was he acting of his own volition or was he under pressure from some forces opposed to Christian participation in Governance?
2. By copying the Heads of the 5 Blocs his mail, Dr. Ayokunle sent panic into the Church and any hope of building Christian consensus for 2019 dissipated.
Since the CAN President had made it clear CAN was not interested in Christian consensus, NCEF continued on the platform of Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN). Suddenly, on 13th and 14th August, 2018, the CAN President caused to be published in PUNCH online news libelous material denouncing CSMN. It was a highly provocative action that required matured Christian intervention so that it did not result in litigation. Again, the unwarranted and unjustifiable action sent discordant tunes into the Church and negatively impacted efforts to build Christian consensus.
Even though the NCEF continued undeterred, much traction had been lost and getting the participation and involvement of Church leaders was frustrated by CAN. It is very disturbing that the institution saddled with the responsibility of protecting and promoting Christians is acting like collaborator with Islamists. Christians that constitute the largest population group in Nigeria and are majority in four geo-political zones are faced with the prospect of another four years of Islamist control of governance. The two major parties have proven over the years that they are not Democratic and are irredeemably corrupt and incompetent.
Nevertheless, the NCEF launched the THINK NEW social mobilization Movement under CSMN to rally Nigerians to demand new leaders that would produce new Nigeria. Work is ongoing on this project.
REASON NUMBER 2: CHRISTIAN APATHY
In addition to the compromise of the Church by CAN, the average Nigerian Christian would also need to accept responsibility for the inability to build Christian consensus. The Unity and Cooperation Committee of the NCEF met on 27th June, 2018 in Abuja to commence work on consensus building. It was felt that it was still possible to work round the mischief of the CAN President and mobilize Christians to work with one mind and purpose for 2019 Elections.
The Conference passed a resolution that Christians should contribute N1, 000 each for the next six months to drive the convergence process. The Conference affirmed that Christians would have to fund the process if they want it to work. It is rather surprising that from 27th June till 31st October, 2018, the sum of N2.2m was all that Christians contributed. From this amount, two major Conferences were funded on 28th August, 2018 in Abuja and on 12th October, 2018 in Lagos. While NCEF appreciates all the individuals and ministries that contributed, the fact remains that Christians should re-appraise their support for credible bodies in the Church if they desire good results.
REASON NUMBER 3: COLLABORATION WITH ISLAMISTS
The history and culture of Nigeria have perpetuated the culture of minority rule, starting with traditional rulers, then the British, thereafter, the Fulani who have collaborators first with the Hausas and Kanuris then Yorubas, Ndigbo and other minorities among over 350 ethnic nationalities. Fulani are now in the “majority” in an independent Nigeria. Today, 2018, it is clear that the two defunct major political parties - Action Group (AG) and National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) that largely represented the two large ethnic nationalities of Yoruba and Ndigbo, have collapsed into the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), established by the Fulani in the First Republic.
The reasoning of the NCEF is that the one unified party presented at different times since 1979 as National Party of Nigeria (NPN) later the “military” and now PDP and APC can be regarded as NPC 1, NPC 2 and NPC 3, designed to provide a minority rulership, comprising one tribe and one religion. The emerging political agenda for 2019 is to step down NPC 3 (APC) so that NPC 2 (PDP) will again form government. Both AG and NCNC have collapsed into NPC due to the greed and covetousness of Christian and other Southern leaders.
The use of “collaborators” is the main reason why the Fulanis with a population around five million in Nigeria exercise control over 195 million indigenous ethnic nationalities. It is more painful when some of the key collaborators are not only Christians, but they are Church leaders. The key mouth piece of Northern People’s Congress 3, (APC), are Pastors. Other Church leaders work surreptitiously under the radar to undermine Christian consensus and promote the interest of their new colonial master.
The relevance of the Church in 2019 Elections would depend on the preparations made before then. If Christians are seriously desirous of building political consensus, they should first establish means of neutralizing the Islamist collaborators in the Church. So long as those collaborators are actively operating, either overtly or covertly, the goal of Christian political consensus shall remain a mirage. The NCEF was prepared to provide the required mobilization and harmonization towards building effective Christian consensus for 2019. For reasons stated above, the goal was hindered.
Nevertheless, the NCEF remains undeterred and continues working with the minimal cooperation that Christians offer.
5th November, 2018