The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has counselled religious leaders to shun sermons and speeches that will further divide the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The National President of CAN, Rev Dr Daniel Okoh, gave the advice during a reception dinner organised in his honour by the Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), the bloc on which platform he was elected as CAN president in July.
He said the Christian body was open to dialogue with other religious bodies and groups on how to move Nigeria forward.
“As Church leaders, we must only say things that will bring us together. My responsibility is not to say things that will divide us. If that is why people think I am here, they are mistaken. When we speak hate, we build a culture of hate and violence while misleading the younger generation,” Okoh said.
He urged that the 2023 campaign should be about finding solutions to common challenges and issues facing the nation, not being told “our religious and political differences.”
“Our politicians should tell us what they plan to do and how they want to fix Nigeria. They should campaign based on issues, not sentiments. We don’t want hate speeches that will further polarise Nigeria,” he said.
Senator Remi Tinubu, the wife of the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was among dignitaries at the reception, expressed delight that the tenure of Rev Okoh would usher in a new beginning for CAN and the Christians in Nigeria.
The vice-presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Bishop Isaac Idahosa, expressed optimism that the new CAN president would lead with wisdom.
The president of the OAIC, Elder Napo Emuchay, who expressed delight that Okoh was the first president of CAN to emerge from the bloc, called for the return to the apostolic age when Christians were unified in one mind and spirit.