Dr. Dennis Inyang is the presiding Pastor of Sure Word Assembly, Lagos. He spoke with ISIOMA MADIKE on the role of the Church in an election year.
What do you believe to be the most important things one can do for one’s country?
At this critical stage of our development as a nation, I believe that the most important thing that you and I can do for Nigeria is to elect leaders with the vision and capacity to drive transformation. To quote American leadership expert, John Maxwell, everything falls and rises on leadership. If we get it right in our choice of leaders, we will be amazed at what Nigeria will become in less than ten years.
What should be the role of the Church in an election year?
In an election year like this, the church should work for peace and diffuse tension. When you listen to people talk and pay attention to the things trending on both the traditional and social media, it seems that the country will not survive. But it will. We have been here before. The church preaches love and peace and there is no better message for this season. Nigerians have become very cynical and some do not want to get involved in the election process. But the church must minister hope and point the people to a better future.
Why do many people loathe partisan politics?
The fact is that partisan politics is very divisive. It seems to exploit our fault lines and sets society against itself. After the elections, you begin the healing process only to start the cycle of hatred and violence all over again. We have a political environment that has made it very difficult for the righteous to get to the throne. Society loathes those who don’t dance to the popular tune. In many cases, if you ask the people to choose between a crook and an upright man, they would likely choose the crook. All the same, I encourage more and more Christians to get into partisan politics; we cannot leave it for non-Christians alone.
Do you think that partisan politics can destroy or diminish good character?
I would not put it that way. Let’s just say that partisan politics exposes people more to temptation. It will test your character and reveal who you really are. Politics would not turn you into a thief if you have no tendency to steal. But politics puts the spotlight on you and magnifies your character flaws.
There has been a lot of fear as to whether the 2019 elections scheduled to begin on February 16 will hold. Do you share in that fear?
I know there is so much tension and a lot of apprehension in the country concerning the elections but I have not seen, heard, or known of anything that would make me think that the elections will not hold. I believe the elections will hold. You will recall that in 2015 when Boko Haram had taken a lot of territories in Borno State, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had to reschedule the elections yet the elections still held.
To what extent is the Body of Christ prepared for voting?
Christians are more politically conscious than before. We know that we are important stakeholders in the Ni-gerian project and the choices we make will impact on the church one way or another. That is why CAN has asked Christians to go out and vote. PFN has advertised her position concerning the election. And I believe that the Body of Christ is ready to perform her civic responsibility.
Many Christian leaders have openly said that the political parties have concluded arrangements to rig the elections. Why is the church this pessimistic?
I do not agree with you that the church is pessimistic. But Nigerians are pessimistic and for good reasons. Who does not know that elections are rigged in Nigeria? Is that not why the courts are filled with post-election cases? Nigerians remember the brazen rigging that PDP was known for. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed under APC. That is why the people are pessimistic. But as the church, having prayed, we must believe that God will have His way no matter how flawed the system may be.
What are your humble suggestions for free and fair elections next week?
Let all the materials be distributed on time and voting done on time. Let the people cast their votes and watch to prevent officials from tampering with them. Let security officers ensure that we have zero ballot box snatching. And let the collation of results be transparent.
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