Christians should get involved in politics, not just prayers -Emmanuel, leader of the PFN

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Pastor President of Living Spring Chapel International and National Director, Social Security Outfit of the Pentecost Fellowship of Nigeria, Femi Emmanuel, chats with ALEXANDER OKERE about governance in Nigeria and why Christians and Nigerian youth should be involved

You have recently been appointed National Director of Policy and Governance of the NFP. What caused this?

When the new president of the NFP, Bishop Wale Oke, appeared, the Oyo State branch decided to host him, being a native of Oyo State, to appreciate what God has done. for him. It was the same day I was invited to give a lecture on Christianity in politics. This conference took place when Bishop Wale Oke arrived. He said that in becoming president of the NFP he had a 10 point agenda and one of them was the inclusion of Christians in politics; that we couldn’t just pray, and that was exactly what I was dealing with – that anyone who said the church shouldn’t be brought into politics or politics in the church killed the church in Nigeria . Not only should the church be involved in politics, it should have the structure that should produce people to get into politics.

You can never see governance from the perspective of a Nigerian in the pulpit. So my first reaction was to say that it was (the appointment) a mission; Maybe that’s why God made me enter politics. It won’t be easy; it’s like waking up a dead man, the church is fast asleep but if it’s the right thing to do, I know God will help us.

Nigeria still has Christians in senior positions in government. Where do you think things went wrong?

If you look at the history of Christianity in Nigeria, the Orthodox and them went in and the Pentecostals went as they do. I think when the holiness messages came in that we just wanted to be holy to the Lord and didn’t want anything to do with worldly affairs like politics and hooliganism Christians didn’t want anything to do. with that . So, I don’t know how governance came to be classified as worldliness and I think that’s where the church missed it. Again, the church in Nigeria is special. In Canada and the UK, Christians can face the church and leave politics to politicians. But in Nigeria, the government controls everything over Nigeria, which is unfortunate. This is where we ended up.

Politics governs life; if you are asked to break the rules of your life, it could consume you and this is one of the messages that I give to the church. If politics is played the way it is played, I think we should make some sense of it. In the absence of light, darkness reigns. If you are not close to the governance, the government would suffocate you because of the people there, because of the Nigerian factor. This is not the presidential system that we brought from America; we brought it in and ‘Nigerianized’. This is not the way democracy works where it does. Democracy is meant to be government of the people, by the people and for the people, but you know that’s not what it is here; it is government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

Are you in favor of the appropriation of political parties by the churches?

A political party is supposed to be an association of like-minded people coming together to sell their manifesto to the people to vote for them, as you see in Republicans and Democrats (in the United States of America). Here (in Nigeria), political parties are owned by political entrepreneurs. So if we want to play politics, we have to buy from them. That’s what we ask the church to have; except that we have the structure and the platform, we are at the back of the fence. The church should have the structure to produce candidates because we have the people.

People ask, “But there are Christians out there (in politics). (The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, (Yakubu) Dogara, is from Winners (Chapel). Dogara was there when the Companies and Related Affairs Act, 2020, was enacted. The law says that the Registrar General could sack the board and bring his own people. He (Dogara) didn’t go there (National Assembly) for the church. He has his own mindset. From what I understand. have seen in politics, there is no way for people to emerge as political office holders in Nigeria as Christians without compromise; it is not possible because they have not platform to them. They had to join other people’s platforms and those platforms had their demands. the party will never put them forward. To be loyal, you have to be strongly compromised. why the church should provide the platform for the emergence of honest, sincere, competent and God-fearing people. cut; apart from the people in the church there are good Nigerians. There are Nigerians who will not fly, they may not be many. But there is no platform for them to emerge.

What structure are you talking about?

Structure is the basis. Democracy in Nigeria is the foundation. These are neighborhoods. Nigeria has political constituencies and it is at this level that the decision to stand for the electorate to vote in an election is made. This is where the rigging begins. The system producing candidates is now heavily compromised; you are either the owner of the structure or you satisfy the owner.

You were a member of the Oyo State Assembly between 1992 and 1993. What was the situation like then?

I hadn’t been in politics before but just had a clear vision that I couldn’t leave it for them (politicians). Why should you stay behind the fence praying to know what’s ahead? Look at my church or any church for that matter; nothing can be changed from the outside. We could be criticized or insulted but nothing can be changed except to be a part of it and to evolve and to reach a level where his voice could be heard. So I got into politics and the way it played out. When you get to the parish level, you will cry for this country. You will see people deciding who the delegates are and who the bags of money are buying. To be part of the parish exco, people fought and bribed each other; everything is compromised to the roots.

So what I did was see what was going on and I had 10 wards in my constituency and 10 ward presidents. As soon as my ward president supported me, he promised to bring other ward presidents and they saw me. They asked me if I wanted to be in politics and I said yes, and I started to influence them. They are the ones who told me to represent them but on condition that they take me to their “baba”, Pa (Lamidi) Adedibu, because he was the strong man of Ibadan politics and all that. he wanted to know was if I would be loyal to them. But the presidents said I was the one they wanted. They even forgot that I was not a native. This is what gives me the assurance that if Christians go to the grassroots they will make a difference. When we were fired after the June 12 cancellation and politics returned in 1999, I was their natural choice. But they didn’t believe it when I told them I wanted to be a full-time pastor. Baba opposed me in the primaries but when I won he carried me at shoulder height. His people asked him why he praised his political opponent, but he told them they couldn’t afford to be enemies. He called me his son and trusted me.

In your opinion, what is the political fate of Nigerians in the run-up to the 2023 general elections?

With the current system, if we vote 20 times, nothing will change. But it’s better late than never. Nigeria will go beyond 2023; let’s start something. We won’t get it in one jump, but let’s start something. I said that the Christian community is imprisoned. I think we are just apolitical. It will surprise you that there are still pastors who preach against the involvement of Christians in governance. They tell them to take their voter cards and vote, but the question they don’t answer is: vote for whom? And we can’t go anywhere that way.

Young Nigerians took to the streets to mark the one-year EndSARS protest memorial and some asked if anything was going to change. What do you think?

The power that many people take over young people can only be if young people come together. If they are to make sense now, they have to go to the base to take the structure of those who have it now. Protests work where you have governments that listen to the people. They can also feature credible people to vote for. It’s not on social media. They should use their enormous strength. The general elections of 2023 are near and the elections of 2027 will follow. Let them get involved and work towards those who will emerge.

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