Dogara’s Team, ECWA Disagree on Presidential Choice Report 

The delegation of former vice president and presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to the 2023 extraordinary General Church Council (GCC) of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), held in Jos recently, yesterday, insisted the statement credited to the president of ECWA, Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, that the church would soon announce it presidential preference was true. But it alleged that the church was under pressure to deny the statement.

A delegation led by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had Tuesday issued a statement, where it quoted Panya as saying at the GCC in Jos that the church would evaluate the presidential candidates and take a decision soon.

 However, ECWA, in a refutation by its Public Relations Officer, Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, stated, “At no time did it make the alluded resolution, neither did the president at any time during the proceedings of the council make the statement credited to him by the newspapers in question.”

The statement read, “ECWA as a denomination has its members across all political parties and the leadership of ECWA respects that. Therefore, we need the teaming members of ECWA, the Church in Nigeria, and the general public to understand that the said publications are absolute falsehood that have never been contemplated, and are meant to cause unnecessary tension that is capable of dragging the good name of ECWA to the mud.

ECWA, therefore, strongly demands the newspapers “to herewith publicly withdraw the said publications and tender public apologies to ECWA within twenty-four (24) hours beginning 12:00 noon, 18th January 2023.”

However, in a counter-statement, spokesman of the Atiku delegation to the occasion, Hon. Golu Timothy, said a lot of pressure was on the church to recant its stand on announcing the choice of a presidential candidate soon.

The statement by Timothy, who is a former member of the House of Representatives, insisted the church’s president made the comment, and wondered why such an innocent remark could suddenly become controversial.

The statement said, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, the spokesperson of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) who denied part of the remarks of the ECWA President regarding what members may do ahead of the 2023 general election.

“As the spokesperson of yesterday’s delegation led by the former Speaker, Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara, I want to say with absolute respect to ECWA President, Rev Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, and the entire leadership that no statement written was mischievous and malicious and intended to create unnecessary tension. At no point did the statement say the church has endorsed and named its own presidential candidate.

“What the ECWA president said was that they will ponder and pray for guidance of the Holy Ghost as they make their decision. The decision, of course, will be those of its members who belong to different political parties to choose from the many candidates.

“All members of the delegation who represented the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji  Atiku Abubakar, are hopeful that majority of such individual decisions will favour us as a party.

“We believe that there is nothing wrong with the statement as reported, as the same remarks can be said to all the presidential candidates, who are seeking votes from members of the church.

“We believe that the pressure from fellow politicians of other political parties who felt outsmarted must have created and prompted the press statement from the church.

“We are aware that politicians who failed to honour such a distinguished gathering will naturally feel jealous of the hospitable reception accorded the Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and his delegation on behalf of Atiku and can raise the stakes to seek to fill the vacuum created by their deliberate absence.

“We urge the church not to be worried by the antics of other politicians, who would go to any extent to pile pressure and sometimes seek to blackmail to score cheap political gains. Let them also visit the church to pass their message to the people instead of assuming negative analysis of what others said.

“As Christians, we have no reason to cast aspersions or create stories for any political objective. It is what we understood from the brief remarks of the ECWA president that we communicated the media.

“We want to restate our high respect to His Lordship, the President of ECWA, Rev Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, the distinguished GCC and the entire membership of the church and will never ever contemplate any form of disrespect. Some members of the delegation are also members of ECWA.”

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