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Clerics in battle to unseat Buhari

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Clerics in battle for Aso Rock
 

11 clerics move to unseat Buhari

 

Once again, Nigeria is searching for a leader to pilot her affairs for the next four years. Already, 72 persons are seeking to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari in the election billed for February next year. Interestingly, 11 of those aspiring to lead Africa’s most populous nation are clerics.

 

After a tortuous period of party primaries, which was largely characterised by political twists and turns, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has made public the final lists of candidates and their parties for the 2019 general elections.

 

Although some aspirants who lost out in the 2019 political feast are still agitated and crying wolf, those who scaled the hurdles, through whatever means, are already back to the drawing board to eke out a winning strategy ahead of the elections.

Expectedly, the increased number of registered political parties has also shoved up the number of candidates that emerged as flag bearers for the respective elective positions. For instance, only 14 candidates and parties contested the 2015 presidential election which was won by the All Progressives Congress (APC), but in the forthcoming elections, no fewer than 73 candidates and parties are going to be on the ballot for the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

As anticipated, qualified Nigerians from all walks of life made up the list regardless of their gender, tribe, profession, qualifications, religious beliefs, creed and other factors.

Of the lot, there are handfuls of clerics seeking to take over Aso Rock from May 29, 2019. Expectedly, many have singled them out and have questioned their involvement in partisan politics, asking the question of whether religious leaders should play an active role in politics or refrain from stepping into the political sphere?

This is one question that has defied a definite answer over the years, perhaps, because Nigeria is a country made up of diverse religions.

 

While it is the right of every citizen as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests,” many have insisted that religion should be separated from politics.

But, there is a political school, which argues that if others could enjoy political expression, such should not be denied of clerics and religious leaders. This political school insists that religious leaders should be entitled to political comments like other citizens in free societies.

According to those who hold this view, politics is not bigger than religion, and so, if dabbling into affairs of the state is going to make the difference for the people; religious leaders should influence it smartly. They further argued that religion is the driving force of politics all over the world, to separate the two may be the most difficult task.

However, there is another political school, which believes that religious leaders should not dabble into politics on the conviction that doing such runs contrary to their teachings. To members of this political school, the Church/Mosque and the government are two separate offices and should not be joined.

The fear of this school is the danger of allowing politicians to smuggle religion into politics. It was argued that the interest of the country and its people would be better served if religious leaders ensure that religion is taken away from politics and by ensuring that politicians do not drag politics into religion.

 

There is another belief that separation of religion and state affairs does not mean that those who are religious cannot vote or exercise their right to free speech. This conviction, perhaps, explains the interest of religious clerics across the various faiths in the electoral although such has re-echoed the contentious issue of religion and politics in a society, where faith carries an enormous weight.

Unlike in the past, when indifference was the word for religious leaders as regards politics, a number of them are getting involved by running for elective offices, while many have opted to mobilize faithful for active participation in the electoral process.

In the 2019 presidential election, no fewer than 11 clerics are in the race to unseat Buhari. While some of them are ordained pastors, apostles, prophets and evangelists who own their churches, others are theological intellectuals, chaplains and serving ordained ministers. Some of the prominent ones among them are Rev. Chris Okotie, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Dr. Yusuf Obaje, Apostle Sunday Chukwu, Pastor Habu Minchi, among others.

 

Rev. Chris Okotie – FDP

Rev. Okotie is the founder and General Overseer of the Household of God Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Lagos since 1987. Once regarded as a rave making musician before he gave his life to Jesus Christ and ventured into the ministry, the flamboyant clergyman graduated with a degree in law from the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. Before

Okotie abandoned his schooling for a while to pursue a pop music career before his returning abruptly. Okotie married twice and announced he has separated from his second wife on June 24, 2012. He returned to school to complete his education and graduated with a law degree. Whilst undergoing law school he interrupted his schooling again to begin his religious ministries. Okotie attended the Grace Fellowship Bible School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and, soon after, established the Household of God Ministry.

In 1990, Okotie established the annual Karis Awards, hosted by his church, to recognize and financially reward Nigerians.

 

He first made his declaration to contest for president in the 2003 general election under the National Democratic Party.

The erstwhile Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and former Military Governor of Imo State, Maj. General Ike Nwachukwu (retd), who had spent barely one week in the party, however, defeated the clergyman to clinch the ticket.

Okotie then dumped the NDP for the Justice Party, becoming the nominee of his new party on February 8, 2003. He contested that year alongside Nwachukwu, but both lost to Obasanjo.

Undeterred, Okotie registered the Fresh Democratic Party and made more unsuccessful attempts in 2007 and 2011, claiming that this ambition was based on a divine call.

Okotie’s presidential hopes were dashed on December 7, 2012 when the Independent National Electoral Commission deregistered 28 political parties, including the FDP, and conducted the March 28 poll without recognising any of the deregistered parties or their respective candidates because the party failed to secure any elective seat in previous elections.

Declaring his intention to again run for the presidency in 2019 after three failed attempts in 2003, 2007 and 2011, the clergyman told his congregation that he had re-emerged from his political hibernation, based on his conviction that Nigeria needed a credible, dependable and a trustworthy man to lead.

“I have re-emerged from my political hibernation to contest the office of President  in the forthcoming elections. I am fully persuaded that Nigeria needs a man who is credible, dependable and trustworthy. A God-fearing man who is embroidered with compassion and love for (this) country. A man who will be readily accepted as a symbol of national unity, who can bring genuine reconciliation and guarantee peace and tranquillity in our nation,” he said.

 

Oby Ezekwesili – ACPN

Her entrance into the presidential race wasn’t anticipated but those close to her believe that she has the magic wand to turn the nation around. No doubt, she is a household name when it comes to Nigerian politics, but only a few knew of her ministerial callings.

Oby Ezekwesili, alongside her hubby, Pastor Chinedu, are ordained pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The couple joined RCCG Apapa Family in 1994 and was the co-ordinator of the House fellowship Apapa family and they later moved from freedom Hall to City of David.

In 2000, the ministers relocated to Abuja where they pioneered quite a handful of parishes. The husband is currently pastoring a parish of the church in Abuja.

For her, capacity is no issue as she had been several tested and came out unscathed. But for analysts, her platform, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), might be a minus for her aspiration despite being the most popular among the female presidential candidate. Ezekwesili was a key figure in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, working as his senior special assistant on budget monitoring and price intelligence and later as minister of solid minerals and of education. She is a former vice-president of World Bank (African region) and former minister of education, Ezekwesili holds a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy from the University of Lagos as well as a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

 

A chartered accountant, she worked with Jeffrey Sachs as director of the Harvard-Nigeria economic strategy programme at the Center for International Development at Harvard. She was one of the founding directors of Transparency International (TI) where she oversaw the operations of the organisation in Africa from 1994 to 1999. The 55-year-old was on the forefront of the campaign for the rescue for the Chibok schoolgirls, co-founding the popular Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement.

 

Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies – MAJA

 

Before now, Professor (Mrs.) Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies is just like any other academics in the Ivory Tower. But her recent declaration to run for the office of the president in 2019 has spotlighted her among those itching to take over from the incumbent.

 

Although an academic in the Rivers State University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Professor Adesanya-Davies, who is from Ira, Kwara State, is the founder and Bishop of the Agape Bible Church.

Although she first tried her luck with the PDP, the lecturer eventually settled for the Mass Action Joint Alliance party, (MAJA), as her platform for the presidential race.

Born on October 15, 1962, Adesanya-Davies, is a Nigerian Educational Consultant and an Associate Professor of Linguistics with specialization in Applied Linguistics and Communication. She is a former Director, Centre for Vocational Skills, Entrepreneurial and General Studies, Rivers State University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. She is a Linguist, educationist, poet, communication expert, advocacy and activist.

She got born-again in 1974, served as Chapel Prefect in Secondary School, Sisters Leader at University of Ife (NIFES) and during NYSC. In 1988, she founded Agape Bible Church, (Eagle’s Cathedral)at Presidential Housing Estate (Church Headquarters).

On her religious calling qualification, she holds a Doctor of Divinity (D.D) Degree and Professor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) Award of Northwestern Christian University, Florida, USA.

Adesanya-Davies, B.A (Ife), M.A English (Ilorin), Ph.D Applied Linguistics & Communication Studies (Port Harcourt) and P.G.D.E (Port Harcourt) is a Linguist, a Poet, Educationist, Activist and an expert in the field of communication studies.

She has lectured in language, linguistics and communication studies in the past 30 years. She also facilitates courses in Language and General Studies at the National Open University, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

 

Chukwu-Eguzolugo – JMPP

Apostle Sunday Chukwu-Eguzolugo is the presidential candidate of Justice Must Prevail Party (JMPP). Chukwu-Eguzolugo, is an ordained minister who claimed that his aspiration to preside on Nigeria was supernatural.

Chief Charles Otis, the National Coordinator of the 16-member committee of wise men that formed the delegates, described the election as excellent. According to Otie, all the wise men took an oath that they will never be influenced by anyone.

 

Apostle Sunday Chikendu Chukwu-Eguzolugo is from Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra and was born on August 20, 1979, and he was the Chief Executive of his clearing and forwarding agency, Phildelson W. A Ltd at International Trade Fair Complex, Lagos, until 1995 when he started experiencing supernatural encounters indicating a divine assignment for the rescue of the nation from corruption and self-destruction and her restoration into a glorious future beyond human imagination.

According to a statement signed by the party’s national chairman, Olusegun Ijagbemi, Chukwu-Eguzolugo’s spiritual inauguration took place on September 17 in a dream.

The way he describes it, the candidate had had a dream around 2:00 am where he knelt down in the midst of Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Jesus Christ.

In Ijagbemi’s own words, he said, “While he was in the midst of the three of them, Papa Adeboye laid hands on him together with Bishop Oyedepo and Christ said that heaven is celebrating the birth of the new party that will establish God’s system of government in Nigeria in a very short time.

“And Christ said to him ‘Fear not, you’re sent with this divine mandate to the nation Nigeria.’ I have appointed a party for my nation Nigeria, a party of my own, and I will shake other political parties and shake out the just out of them and plant them into my own party, and they shall dwell and move no more, neither shall the wicked rulers afflict Nigeria as before time. This is how the symbol of the rainbow in the logo came about.

“The Lord said to him again, that in this dispensation of His era in Nigeria, JMPP shall be established on top of the mountain and it shall be exalted above all the parties, and it shall give light to our nation, Africa and the rest of the world, and all nations shall model their lifestyle after the New NIGERIA.”

Part of JMPP’s plans for Nigeria includes changing the name of the country to Pisonia and the currency from Naira to Pison. According to Ijagbemi, the leadership of JMPP has got a wind of how the country is being impoverished with its currency and will correct this when in government.
He also noted that the country will be fenced and its citizenship laws will be reviewed so as to promote citizens’ welfare and security of lives and property.

 

Pastor Habu Aminchi –PDM

Pastor Habu Aminchi is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) for the 2019 presidential election.

The clergyman, who was unanimously affirmed as the party’s presidential candidate through a voice vote of delegates from the 36 states of the country and the FCT, is the National Chairman, United Christian Leaders Eagle Eyes Forum (UCLEEF).

 

Yusuf Obaje – ANDP

Rev. Prof. Yusufu Ameh Obaje was the Chaplain to The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (May 1999 to June 2005). Whilst he had made attempts at becoming the governor of Kogi State but failed, his foray to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to pick the party’s presidential ticket also failed. But he eventually became the candidate of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party for the presidential contest.

A thoroughbred minister of the Baptist Church fold, Obaje was Chancellor, Bowen University, Iwo – 2003 to 2005; President, Nigerian Baptist Convention (2003 – 2005); President, Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso (1993 – 2003); Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy (1993 to Date);President, Nigeria Theological Education Council;and Chairman, Nigerian Baptist Convention Theological Education Council (1993 – 2003), among others.

 

Helen Godswill-Solomon – PRP

Dr Helen-Naomi Ndidi Godswill-Solomon is a woman who has been affecting lives and nations in so many ways; in social justice, Christian ministries and outreaches, Business, Enrichment and Empowerment of men and women. She represents the new generation of leaders emerging in Nigeria to change the reputation of Nigeria.

A lawyer called to the Nigerian bar in 1992, she worked in Lagos, Nigeria and New York, United States of America. She was ordained a minister in Redeemed Christian Church of God in 2001 and commissioned Apostle in 2010.

She has been impacting the lives of individuals and transforming organizations and nations through raising altars of prayers and raising a people of prayer by teaching and impacting the culture of prayer on believers.

The PRP presidential candidate is the Founder/President of Esther Generation Prayer Ministries and Resource centers. Apostolic Training, Coaching and Resource Centers worldwide with headquarters in  Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America and branches in various countries. She is also co founder and pastor of Grace Word Arena Church for all nations, life coach in David Solomon Leadership Institute and an international radio host on “Grace Hour”.

A law graduate of Edo State University, Ekpoma, Nigeria law School, Lagos and recipient of honorary Doctor of Divinity from My Life Theological institute, Maryland, United States, she acquired her primary school education from Sacred Heart Primary School (now Diai Primary School), Umunede, Delta State. She later attended Mary Mount Girls High School, Agbor before going for advanced levels at Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

For her, the passion that moved her to join politics with her team of millions of Nigerian youths and new generation leaders both home and abroad “Restoration 2019” is to bring positive changes that will sweep away corruption, insurgency, armed robbery and the numerous ills that currently characterize Nigeria to make room for the birth of a new Nigeria.

Angela Johnson – AUN

Angela Johnson was born on 16th November 1959 to the family of Honourable J.U Udenyi and Madam Nnenna Grace Udenyi of Amuvi Village Arochukwu, Abia State. Angela mother was the women leader in Methodist Dioceses Umuahia for several years and was later elected women Patron of Methodist church, Umuahia. While growing up, Angela was inspired by her mother to be God fearing, hard working and focused in life. Angela attended both her primary and secondary school in Umuahia, Abia State Nigeria. Angela became a successful entrepreneur shortly after her West African School Certificate (WASC).

She had an encounter with the Lord Jesus on 20th December 1986 at a youth for Christ Conference where she gave her life to Christ and became a born-again Christian. Angela was called into Ministry in January 1987 and later travelled to London England in 1991 with the intention of starting her Christian work of Ministry. In 1994, Angela founded and registered Compassion Ministries in London UK. She is the presidential candidate of the Alliance for United Nigeria and according to her if elected as president, her administration will: “Eliminate corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of our system in Nigeria by God’s grace, with the active help of security agencies and the citizenry. Under my leadership, Nigeria will be strategic and purposeful in encouraging and facilitating sustainable growth, employment, wealth creation and good quality of life through a focus on areas of comparative advantage, in collaboration with the private sector.”

 

Other clergies in the February 16 presidential election include: Prof.Peter Uchenna Nwangwu (We Are the People of Nigeria Party; Dr. Davidson Isibor Akhimien (Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria, GDPN) and Rev. David Ize-Iyamu (Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP)
As it is, the stakes are very high in the presidential election and beyond the religious affiliation, Nigerians are eager to know what the various candidates are bringing to the table in their quest to resuscitate the ailing fortunes of the country.

 

 

NewTelegraph 

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