Elections: Christians Should Do More Than Pray! Manasseh F. Paul-Worika.

Two weeks from now, Nigerians will go to the polls in what appears to be one of the most keenly contested elections in living memory. Yet many Christians are ambivalent about it. Some people think that politics and faith don’t mix, but that is to misunderstand God’s nature.

Take the Lord’s Prayer for example. We pray that God’s kingdom would come. That is a politically-loaded prayer. It is asking that the reign of God would come to fruition here on earth as it is currently in heaven. We pray not that souls would escape up to heaven, but for God’s kingly reign to invade our world.

In line with the above, it is pertinent that Christians all over the country would come out en masse to cast their votes as we look to elect leaders who will pilot the affairs of the nation over the next four years. With the knowledge that one way God’s Kingdom can be established here on earth is by deliberately selecting leaders through casting our votes.

But, research has shown that a large percentage of Christians have chosen to stand aloof, and not participate in the electoral process with the believe that politics is a “dirty game”. Some doubt the credibility of the electoral process, and to others, the violent nature of elections in Nigeria is enough reason to stay away from the electoral process. This has made most Christians resort into just “praying” for the nation and not cast their votes in elections.

Although, we cannot agree with some of these reasons, Christians should look beyond the challenges confronting Nigeria’s electoral system and ensure that they vote as they pray. By doing this, we do not only seek God’s divine intervention in the affairs of the country, but we also deliberately choose our leaders.

In a course to encourage the Christian community to vote in the forth coming general elections, a non-governmental organization known as “church must vote” appealed to Christians across the country to be conscious of their voting rights.

Mr. Ikechukwu Nmor, Communication manager of the group in a message to Christians called on all Christians to come out en masse and participate in the 2019 general elections and beyond.

He said, “As the 2019 general elections approach, it is important that the elections and the outcome reflect a representation and inclusive decision of all demographics, age, gender and beliefs”.

“Most Christians in Nigeria hide behind the mask of praying for the nation and abstain from the arena of politics, yet the church remains the most vocal critic of the government. It is not enough to pray behind closed doors and wait in sheer optimism for change or progress to be achieved. So, we say to our brothers and sisters in the Christian faith to vote and pray”, Nmor said.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged its members to vote, but according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

President of the group, Rev. Samson Ayokunle urged Christians to vote in the forth coming elections as much as they pray for the success of the electoral process, adding that they should be led by the Holy Spirit and their conscience with the credibility and integrity of the candidates as their guide.

He said, “Christians are called upon to vote credible and trusted candidates into the various elective positions. We must also be discerning about their policy and the understanding of policy details. “Let us be circumspect and discretional. Above all, let the Holy Spirit of God direct you in the wing. Think about the greater good of Nigeria, and not primordial sentiments”.

Sharing his thoughts, Reverend Cornelius Orlu of Church of God Mission International, Agip Province, Port-Harcourt restated the need for Christians to ensure that they registered as voters, get their PVC’S and make it a call of duty to vote.

He said, “As Christians, we must ensure that positive change becomes a reality. If politics is a “dirty” game as some will say, let the clean up begin with Christians. 2019 is a transitional season for Nigeria. It is erroneous to say Christians should not vote. We must vote and our votes will count.

“I’ll enjoin all Christians to not just pray, but also make it a call of duty to cast their votes. INEC wouldn’t count prayer points after the elections, what they will count are votes cast. So it is important and I think compelling for Christians to vote in the forth coming elections”

If the words of these individuals are anything to go by, then we should indeed expect a shift from the lackadaisical attitude of some Christians towards voting in elections. We should expect to see a higher percentage of Christians who would not just pray behind closed doors, but would turn up in large numbers at various polling booths to vote for candidates of their choice.

In the 2016 US Presidential election, it was recorded that 81 percent of Christian evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. One of the highest figures ever recorded in a presidential election in the US. Many factors were noted to have led to the huge turnout of Christian voters in the election, but whichever way one may look at it, it remains that the Christian community saw the importance of casting their votes in electing their preferred candidate.

Taking a cue from this, the Christian community in Nigeria need to wake up. All hands must be on deck as we seek to uphold democratic principles in our nation. And even though Christians and politics are uneasy partners, Christians must begin to befriend politics, most importantly by exercising their franchise.

As agents of positive change, Christians need to be up and doing, as we draw closer to the long awaited general elections. Whether Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostals or Presbyterian, Christians need to rise up to the task of ensuring that they exercise their civic duty.

It’s indeed in the interest of the church to so do. Otherwise, there may be a revolt among the congregation at their worsening plights and then it would be too late and their anger or rebellion will amount to nothing.

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