You are currently viewing From CAN to cant, By Sam Omatseye
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From the effusions of the Christian Association of Nigeria, you would think we are living in a theocracy. They want to subvert Nigeria into God’s Own Country, a spoof of the United States’ self-congratulatory appropriation of the term. These self-styled Christian soldiers want to make this country a Bible belt without following the Bible scent. Nobody sent them from heaven.

They throw dirt. They reinvent hell. They make monsters of fellow mortals. They look askance at those who are not of our faith. They have, in their rhetoric and acts, created their own versions of Saint Augustine’s City of God.

Yet even the old bard of God did not espouse bigotry. Augustine never extoled a world where non-believers had no airings or hearing. This is what we have seen in their outcry over the Tinubu-Shettima ticket. But we are witnessing their wet dreams of a Christian inquisition. They want to crucify Tinubu or hang Shettima at the stakes. They are evincing the sort of racial rage of America’s Jim Crow era when whites ritualised the execution of black men after church. They go to church, chant hallelujah and amen, then go outside to ogle bullets as they dissolve black lives in blood and tears. For them, it is like a matinee, or family barbecue, grilled in the indignant coal dust of white fire.

They forget that Nigeria is a secular state. Nigeria is not a Christian state. It is neither a Muslim state. So, skewing the Christian pulpit to impugn a political party flirts with the law. They are not supposed to endorse a party, or desecrate another as they are doing. A pastor violates the law when he asks his folks to vote one party against another.

Of course, we cannot live as hostages in this world. So as Christians, we must engage. But not acting as bare-faced partisans. The law is not ambiguous on it. As lawyer Jiti Ogunye notes, some CAN members are flying in the face of the law. At the TVC Breakfast show last week, I warned that CAN can be sued for breaking the law and inciting Nigerians on the basis of religion. The Electoral Law says, in section 97 (1) that “A candidate, person or association who engages in campaigning or broadcasting based on religious, tribal or sectional reason for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular party or the election of a particular candidate, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction…”

It anoints the separation of church and state. CAN has fallen foul of this. They should refrain from a faecal stain in our communal pool. The Christian does not make enemies but follows peace with all men. Jesus gave us enough examples. Look at the Samaritan woman. Jacob’s well is an enduring metaphor of betrothal, but with Jesus it is outreach between the Jew and non-Jew, and the miracles that come out of it. Paul advances it by saying a person is a “Jew inwardly,” and not by appearance. Abraham’s children, Paul said, are not by blood but by faith. We are neither Jew nor Greek, but one. He opens the Christian arm. It’s not a call to arms. Hence Christ said let the wheat and tares dwell together. Jesus himself said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then will my servants fight.”

What CAN does is the opposite. They make the Muslim a devil. By their hysteria, CAN is bonding the Muslims. Rather CAN should follow the Psalmist advice: “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

CAN is pharisaic. When the PDP chose a northern Muslim over a southern Christian, they said nothing. They were dead from the neck up. They also kept mum on the geo-political injustice. Now, they would rather have a northern Christian as number two, than a southern Christian as president and number one. So, they ignored Wike, a southern Christian, when a Muslim pooh-poohed him. But they are crying like hyenas for a northern Christian to play second fiddle. CAN is discriminating against the southern Christian. That is why CAN is described as the political wing of the PDP.


Other than defying the law, they are defiling the solemn oath of Christ. What they should do is to pursue the higher virtues of love, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. They should preach against corruption, lies and hypocrisy. Such agenda aims at Saint Augustine’s bull’s eye of the City of God. America’s Christian Right advances their own platforms, sometimes simplified as God, guns and gays. They have sullied the scriptures with their culture. German Christian Democratic Party furthers conservative policies but never carry the bible or cross the campaign grounds. Angela Merkel never quoted the Bible in public and was more open to Muslim immigrants than many of our CAN behemoths.

CAN should ape Moses who leaned over to learn from his in-law Jethro, a non-Jew, on how to govern.

The 30 men of God who attended Shettima’s unveiling as vice president is no big deal. Some tarnish them as mechanics, carpenters, et al. The media, without investigation, fell into the mania. Have they identified one after the other and said, Bishop so-and-so, is not a bishop but runs a mechanic workshop at Mushin? No such rigour. The media ignored the unveiling of the unveiling at the event. That is, Shettima’s adopted son Paul Ojukwu. None can say Paul is no Christian. No Biafran can deny the name Ojukwu. Name a southern Christian governor who can huff over adopting a northern Muslim he met at a shop, saw his talent, adopted him, sponsored him to acquire a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and is placing him on the cusp of a PHD? Who can boast a cross-pollinated feat such as Shettima’s? many self-pollinate. CAN may see it as contamination because they have not commented yet.

CAN must learn to follow Christ and touch souls rather than torch crisis. CAN should move from the hustings to the Bible and research the sons of Issachar, who aligned with the right leaders because they read, like Christ enjoined later, the signs of the times. They knew David would be king before others.

(This piece was first published in The Nation)

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