A half bloc of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) gathered on Thursday, the 2nd day of March 2023 in the midst of the political tension griping the nation to ungraciously and without sensitivity to the mood and role of the Church as the Ambassador of Peace among nations, to endorse Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the APC candidate, as the candidate of PFN when the National level of CAN kept announcing the fact that they are endorsing no candidate for any election.

I stand to be corrected, based on information available to me after contact with many Christian leaders and some head of churches, It is evidently clear that there was no contact with many affiliating churches before this ignoble decision and endorsement was made.

It is pertinent that individual Christians of pentecostal persuasion should reach out to their Pastors/leaders for clearance and seek to know the criterion used at arriving at the choice of the APC candidate. It is equally important for the electorate to know the areas where Mr. Banajide Sanwo-Olu towered above other candidates in the governorship race to earn this blank endorsement without the expected wide consultation with stakeholders.

Some of the questions that are begging for answers include but not limited to: One, has PFN invited and screened all the governorship candidates before this endorsement? If they did, Christians deserve to know when and where the meeting/screening was held, who and who honoured the invite, the eminent spiritual personalities that serve on the screening panel and the methodology adopted to arrive at the best candidate for the PFN to stake its reputation on such candidate to deliver the dividend of democracy to people of Lagos?
Two, what were the consultations made with stakeholders before this decision was taken and before it was made public in the manner it was made?
Three, why must something as important as giving leadership to people that hold us in high esteem be shrouded in this type of deafening secrecy? This blatant disregard for consultative approach will definitely earn appropriate reactions from all in the Christian fold who weren’t parties to this unethical endorsement. Surely, the last has definitely not been heard about this endorsement.

Truth is, if stakeholders I had been speaking with in the last 72 hours in the PFN family, DPG operation and CAN are not privy to the decision to endorse any candidate, then we are not expecting Christians to respect or take cognisance of the protocol of this endorsement. What the clique that endorsed Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu have created is a divided house. They have just opened the church for political maneuvering in which they stand no chance of winning. And they know this.

The privileged leaders that sat to endorse Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu knew that it is not their directives that brought the result of Saturday 25th of December Presidential/National Assembly polls. Most of them have been all along working for the party that Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is representing and obviously did not deliver against their perceived hold on the church. These leaders knew the principled stakeholders that can be reached if their candidate is ready to address the concerns of the Church and deliver on people-oriented programmes.

A purposeful look at the manner in which Muslim leaders conduct their political participation, mobilisation and negotiations shows that CAN, PFN and DPG need to go and learn from them. Muslim leaders towered in diligence, civility and inclusivity above us. Going into the 2023 election; Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu lifted the written evidence of his commitment to the Muslim Community in Lagos which was presented to him by the Chief Imam of Lagos. I am fascinated by the servant-leadership disposition of Sheikh Sulaiman Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla. They consulted, agreed and articulated positions that they believe will enable them to observe their faith freely and policies and programs beneficial to their people and the State. It is worth mentioning here that despite the fact the Muslim leaders did not send circular out ordering Imams to participate in Tinubu-Shettima Campaign rally, their supports were evidently effective.

The question is, where is CAN or PFN pact with Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu either signed or unsigned. There is non because we would have known if there was one. It would have come before or presented during the ill-conceived endorsement. What contributions did the circular ordering people without sound conviction and buy-in to attend a party campaign made? It has not worked and it will not work. We are a people of faith and believe. We have our fears and aspirations which must be heard and commitment towards addressing them be made in clear terms. This will attract our votes than any induced blank endorsement.

Bishop Adegbite, the Chairman of CAN in Lagos State is a widely known influential APC stalwart and should have used his position to canvas and build a good relationship between the church, the state government and the party governing the State. With him, the Church should have had some of its concerns looked into, but today, we are in a State where introduction of Shariah is staring us in the face! We have harassment from agencies that treat us differently from our counterparts and a government where appointments, employments, engagements and patronage needed to be reviewed and addressed. Today, any endorsement from the CAN Chairman or other leaders doing is bidding will surely pitch the church and its electorate against their endorsed candidate or preferred party.

I need not remind PFN that it was the unbridled demand of the CAN Chairman during 2021 IDDS that Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu almost lost the opportunity of his 2nd term ticket. Some of us are beyond sycophancy! Our contribution in the political space is for nothing other than the interest of the faith and people of Lagos. We are glad our contribution counted for the restoration of that mandate to Sanwo-Olu.

The fact that we have more than one candidate in the race makes it interesting. Christians should take a lesson from Nasarawa where though Christians are in the majority but producing a Governor is often a mirage for simple reason of multiple Christian candidates and failure of the Church to positively harness the numerical strength to their advantage. Voting for a Muslim candidate is not off the table if leaders can extract commitment to address issues of interest and concern to our faith and the State in general.

Let me advise Christians and indeed all electorate as a peace loving residents of Lagos state. We should ignore and disregard any individual; group or endorsement that cannot show us the benefit that will accrue if we give our mandate to the candidate.

If the CAN, PFN and DPG are willing to mitigate the damages they are doing to the faith, the people they are suppose to be leading and the candidate they have endorsed, it is not too late to retrace their steps, do the needful and approach the Christian electorate with the deserved respect and bargain. The failure to do the needful will leave us with no option than to start our mobilisation against their endorsed candidate if to dispel their self-acclaimed influence and hold on the church. It is a whirlwind that will blow no one no good!

We are asking the electorate to remain vigilant and ready to contribute their quota by coming out to vote on Saturday 11th March, 2023 for the enthronement of a government that will be responsive and responsible for the human and infrastructural development of the State in one hand, and the peaceful co-existence of all tribes and tongue in Lagos State on the other. Lagos State is a State like no other, we should respect the diversity of its populace.

The next six days will surely see a lot of strategic consultations, negotiations and collaboration. Let us be accommodating and always think and seek the general good of all in any position of influence we occupy.

Apostolic Round Table (ART) is a call away! The network is growing, the mobilisation is ongoing, our commitment is unmistakable.
We will daily host Leaders After God’s Own Spirit Initiating A New State: An Idea Trading and Decision Making online platform for a prosperous and secular Lagos.

We deserve and we will realize a Lagos where citizens, residents and visitors can achieve their legitimate dreams without any form of religious persecution or ethnic harassment to their lives and means of livelihood.

We move for March 11.

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