Presiding Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (CGCC) formerly Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has reacted to the controversy over the choice of a Muslim running mate by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, charging Church leaders to approach the issue with civility, clarity and with continued hope in the possibilities of a united Nigeria.
In what was seen as a subtle support for the decision of Tinubu, a Muslim, to choose a Muslim running mate in person of former governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Bakare said conversation should be shifted to ensuring good governance and the emergence of a united Nigeria where primordial sentiments of ethnicity, religion or tribe would not matter.
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Daily Trust reports that the nation’s polity has been heated up since Tinubu unveiled his running mate, with some Christian leaders expressing opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
But Bakare stated that given the diversity and mood of the nation, and the degree to which true nationhood is yet to be forged, the aversion to what has been termed a Muslim-Muslim ticket is not unexpected.
He stated that Nigerians dream of a state where state of residence will replace state of origin in official forms and where ‘zoning’ or ‘Federal Character’ will become archival aspects of the journey into political maturity.
“We dream of a Nigeria where the political mantra will no longer be “emi lo kan” or “awa lo kan” but “Nigeria lo kan;” a Nigeria where every Nigerian citizen, at any point in time, will have the absolute freedom and liberty to contest for any political office and will be assured of the citizens’ wise use of the power of the vote without consideration of what part of the country he or she is from or in what manner he or she chooses to worship God”, he said.
Bakare also reminded Nigerians of the pillar of Northern Nigerian politics, saying the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, recognised the moral obligation to ensure that due consideration was given to diversity of persuasions in public policy, which as a result has seen Northern Nigeria have its political foundation built on the principles of inclusion and religious harmony.
“This value system of religious neutrality and inclusion played out when military forces from Northern Nigeria took over power in the 1966 counter coup. The military had the confidence to leave the nation in the custody of a Christian from a minority ethnic group in the North. General Yakubu Gowon would go on to govern Nigeria for nine years keeping Nigeria one amidst a Civil War,” he said.
He further admonished Christian leaders, to realise that the church in Nigeria is today paying for decades of erroneous teaching that posited that Christians have no business in politics.
“The antagonism that was meted to some of us who have ventured from the pulpit to the podium, even from amongst our fellow Christian leaders, was always a pointer that a day would come when the church would face a rude awakening of the consequence of passivity, apathy, non-participation and an anachronistic adherence to the Aaronic priesthood, especially long after the author and finisher of our faith had moved on to the Melchizedek priesthood”
He however advised Christians in Northern Nigeria who feel marginalised by the choice of a Northern Muslim as running mate, to upgrade the conversation from politics to governance.