Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday met with some presidential candidates of political parties in the country and cautioned them against utterances that could set the country on fire.
Speaking with journalists shortly after engaging some of the presidential candidates at the Christian Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, the CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said the association was out to get the relevant stakeholders to accept to play according to the rules, so that the elections will be peaceful.
On the stalemated amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act, the CAN president advised both the executive and the legislative arms of government to come together, bury their differences and agree on the way forward.
He expressed worry that with the level desperation exhibited by politicians during the party primaries, the real elections in 2019 might end up in serious crisis.
The CAN president told journalists that the body used the opportunity to interrogate the candidates and their representatives on their plans for the country.
“We have reached a stage where whoever will lead us will no more have to give excuse for not repositioning our economy. We have a very short life to live on earth and if the good life does not begin for Nigerians now, when will it begin? We leave a better tomorrow for our children,” he said. The CAN president further stated the reason for the engagement of the presidential hopefuls, saying:
“The motive is not to take for granted the 2019 Nigeria. 2019 Nigeria will depend on 2019 general elections – how free and fair it is. If the elections are not free and fair, all Nigerians will be in trouble, including the Church. So, we have decided to reach out to the stakeholders – the presidential candidates to ask them their credentials for aspiring for the highest office in the country and plans they have for us including the Church.
“You will agree with me that in the past few years, we have witnessed bloodshed of unimaginable proportion and we cannot afford to lose more lives again”. He said the Church cannot afford to take the back seat under the circumstance, adding that the Church can only prosper when Nigeria prospers.
He warned politicians not to do something that will set the country on fire.
“The level of desperation is too much. If any politician does not have any other job apart from politics, such person should not seek to lead us. He should go and look for a more enduring profession,” he said.
The CAN president said the association intends to make public the outcome of the interactions with the presidential candidates which will come in the form of the collective ratings of the
Speaking further on the need for free and fair 2019 elections, Ayokunle said he had reminded President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to see that 2019 election is an improvement on the 2015.
“When we conducted the 2015 general elections, people didn’t expect it to be so free and fair elections but the way the then Goodluck Jonathan-led administration conducted it gave us a sense of pride in the international community. Even our PVCs contain more information than that of some developed countries. That was Nigeria doing something for the rest of world to emulate.
“If the 2019 election is not better, if the police are not better behaved, if the Army is not better behaved; if the electoral umpire did not conduct credible election, then it is a failure,” he said.