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The northern clerics’ call and President’s declaration



The northern clerics’ call and President’s declaration


It’s not anymore news that several groups of persons, particularly under the auspices of the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), had for some time now been calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to recontest for a second term in office come 2019.
The clamour has been taking place in various quarters across the federation as being engineered by the allies of the country’s number one citizen, even though many are still in disagreement that the Buhari-led administration does not deserve a continuity bid.

In spite of the contrary view of those believed to be in opposition, two weeks ago, it seemed the clarion call assumed a different dimension. On Thursday April 5th, a set of Northern clerics under the aegis of Arewa Pastors’ Peace Initiative (APPIN) paid a courtesy visit to the president at the Council Chambers in Aso Rock Villa and therein endorsed Buhari for a second term.

In his remark on behalf of the group, the leader of the pastors, Bishop John Abu Richard stated that the call was informed by the ‘numerous achievements’ recorded thus far under the watch of President Buhari. According to him, the president had succeeded in fulfilling his campaign promises.

Barely a few days after the endorsement, Mr. President publicly declared his interest to oblige the numerous calls to recontest for the number one seat in the forthcoming general elections. The president stated that he considered accepting the calls from millions of Nigerians after a deep thought. It’s noteworthy that the declaration had triggered mixed feelings among the Nigerian citizenry, both home and abroad.

When I got the news of the ‘Northern pastors’, I couldn’t help but continue to ponder over what the country’s religious institutions had turned into, though the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had refuted the genuineness of the clerics’ existence. By that display of the so-called Arewa pastors, every discerning mind wouldn’t desist from ascertaining if our religious leaders have abruptly become political gladiators.
When did the church begin to campaign for, or throw their weight behind, a certain political aspirant? The main duty of the religious bodies as regards elections is to stand neutral while relentlessly conscientizing the various key players – including the electoral umpire, political parties and the electorate – on the need to play by the rules.
In addition, they are – in their capacity – expected to preach to their respective congregants on the need to participate actively in the elections so that they can favourably elect anyone of their choice at the polls. It is their duty to ensure that each of their followers whom has attained the adulthood could boast of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), which remains the only tool that can institute power in their hands.
It is equally the duty of the clerics to ensure that their wards aren’t deceived or cajoled by any aspirant or party, as may be the case. It is their civic responsibility to ensure that none of them derails in the long run. Hence, it is not in their calling to tell their followers who they ought to vote for; rather, they are only meant to warn them not to vote against their conscience, or compromise their future just for today’s token.
So, endorsing a certain politician to vie for a particular position, even when he was yet to declare his interest to do so, was enough indication to assert that the supposed anointed men of God had derailed. Although I believe so much in Buhari’s ability as a person and leader, but can never be a party to any form of tokenism or sycophancy displayed by his allies under any guise.
Now that Mr. President has eventually declared his intention to aspire for a second term, the pertinent question becomes; does he really deserve a continuity bid? Before one could tender an apt answer to the enquiry, there’s need to painstakingly dissect the present administration.
Buhari graciously embarked on a mission in 2015 as the President of Nigeria with the seeming candid motive of considering three key factors as priorities. He vowed to fiercely tackle corruption and insecurity headlong as well as restore the country’s dying economy. So far, every sector seems to have come to a standstill despite the dogged efforts of the government to usher in change as earlier promised.
However, we can’t forget in a hurry that the APC-led administration has succeeded in fighting corruption to an extent. The introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) are obvious indications. But the problem remains that till date, no single individual or officer had been convicted of any corrupt charges, and that is exactly where the worry of the people lies.
Similarly, we can’t equally ignore the fact that terrorism had reasonably been fought in the recent times. Prior to inception of the current administration, the said societal menace was occurring virtually on a daily basis but at the moment, we only hear of it once in a blue moon, although other forms of security challenges had sprang up within the past two years.
My optimum concern over the president’s second term bid is his age. We aren’t unaware that age is against him, and handling such a critical and highly demanding position required a healthier Nigerian. It would be recalled that he had remarked earlier, precisely in 2015 that “old age will limit my performance…”
Similarly, in 2011, he declared he would serve for only one term, stating “age is not on my side”. One, therefore, would wonder what prompted the U-turn seven years after. Well, it’s not unconnected with the fact that anyone who has tasted power wouldn’t like to vomit it.

•Nwaozor writes from Owerri via:

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