Christian-Christian ticket would have set Nigeria on fire – Cleric, Aiyedogbon

The Senior Apostolic Leader of the Realm of Glory International Churches, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon, in this interview with Arise TV, monitored by our correspondent, SEGUN ADEWOLE, reveals that Christians are mobilising to vote against the Muslim-Muslim ticket fielded by the All Progressives Congress for the 2023 presidential election

senior Apostolic Leader of the Realm of Glory International Churches, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon, in an interview with Arise TV on Tuesday condemned the decision of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to pick Senator Kashim Shettima, a fellow Muslim as his running mate.

Aiyedogbon stated that he was traumatised, adding that he stands with Christian leaders against the ticket.

He said, “I’m a Christian and every Christian leader directly or indirectly belongs to the Christian Association of Nigeria. And if you are in the Pentecostal Faith, you belong to the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. So, where they stand is where I stand. Much more than that, we are first and foremost humans, and I think the fundamental principle that God put in place at creation is respect for the dignity of every human. I’m human before I belonged to any ethnic group and religion, and the fundamental principle for respect for every human, which demands equity, fairness and sensitivity, has been violated. As a human being, I feel traumatised by all that has been going on. It’s not just a matter of where I stand.”

He lamented that just recently, Nigerians were distracted from real issues by controversies about Tinubu’s certificate and the school he attended.

“I feel really traumatised. I think our politicians are so tactical; they have mastered the game of dribbling, manipulation and deception. I think this whole thing is a strategy to divert attention from the real issues. They have now played up politics of identity and exclusion. I think it’s all the same old rigmarole, avoiding the real issues and taking everybody for granted. So, it’s not just the sensibility of the Christian community that has been insulted. I dare say, this is like adding insult to injury. This is trampling on the electoral value of the Christian community. This is saying to our face that we don’t matter, we don’t count and you don’t give a damn. When you did all your calculations and balancing, you realised it’s not only that you have to satisfy a particular region of the country and religion at the expense of fairness and justice, you are playing it up to say that you regard, respect and adore these people more. How do you want us to feel? You are trampling on us and when we talk you say we are being sensational and with primordial sentiment. Who started this primordial sentiment and sensationalism? It’s the same politicians,” he said.

Aiyedogbon stated that Nigeria had graduated from a lack of visionary leadership to bad leadership, adding that the country is now at the point of no leadership.

“It is the current President of the ruling party that was packaged and sold to us. I’ve said before that it was almost like forgery that was presented to us. He was packaged and dressed in a garb of a born- again democrat, saying he will stop insecurity, he will fight corruption, and part of the people that packaged him and sold him to us in 2015 is the current presidential candidate. We see all the failure; blood has been flowing, both that of Christians, Muslims and others. Nobody is safe,” he said.

The clergyman said the politics of identity started with President Buhari which is why an Islamic identity is being displayed by the party ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

“It started with all his lopsided appointment. This is the first time in the history of Nigerian politics that the national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission will come from the same religion and region as the President. Even under the military, it wasn’t so. This is the first time you have a situation where the President of the country is a Muslim from the North, the Senate President is a Muslim from the North and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a Muslim. So, everybody is like if we want to matter under the government of APC, we have to put on the toga of Islamic religion. Is that what you are telling us? And you are now saying it doesn’t matter what we say and so on,” he said.

He continued, “The legs of religious extremists have been on our necks as Christians and our blood is flowing. You guys just put aside the Owo massacre and so on… Catholic priests are being kidnapped, people are still in captivity, and Christian girls are kidnapped and distributed as booty, as means of motivating the terrorists. I don’t know if they take Muslim girls. Who played up politics of religion to the maximum? It is President Muhammadu Buhari. Everything rises and falls with leadership. In my village, they say every folklore is on the tortoise’s head. The President is the tortoise in this matter. His lack of leadership, balance and sensitivity to every ethnic group and religion is now what he’s taking to high heaven. What he and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were sensitive to and respected in 2015… why didn’t Tinubu run with him then?”

He went on to rubbish the comparison of the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket to that fielded by the Social Democratic Party when the late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola and his running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe, both Muslims, contested the presidential election in 1993.

He said, “They should stop comparing this with 1993. We did not have these issues in 1993. None of them has the qualities and greatness that MKO had. You can’t be comparing apples and oranges or whatever. See the polarisation and trampling of regions by our President; you are now showing us that a region in the country doesn’t have competent and intelligent people. Is it all about votes? Where is the place for principle, fairness and justice?”

Asked what the situation will be like if a ruling party fielded Christian-Christian presidential ticket, Aiyedogbon said, “I can tell you that many places will be burning by now; blood will be flowing because there are extremists on the other side of the divide of religion that are not tolerant at all. They have been impoverished, poverty has been weaponised and those people have been turned into weapons. So, they will just tell them, can you imagine, they are saying that both President and Vice President of the next election must be Christian. Before you know it, they will start burning and start killing. I lived in the North for almost 10 years and know what we suffered.”

On Tinubu’s running mate, he said, “Kashim Shettima has a lot of baggage. They can be denying now but there are leaked audio conversations he had with Amosun. It has been in circulation and I kept it since it was released. Go and listen to the things he said against the South-East, against the Christians; we know his antecedents even as governor of Borno. If any Christian leader suddenly begins to support Muslim-Muslim ticket, we’ll suspect that he has been bought. The reason they are treating us like this is because some of the Christian leaders that represented us have allowed greed to drive them; they have shown that they are cash and carry, they have a price.”

Asked if there’s a sizeable amount of Christians in the North to make their votes worthy of attention, Aiyedogbon stated that the idea that Christians are minority in the region is a fallacy.

He said, “There has been an assumption, which is an illusion and fallacy, that Christians are minority in the North. I started my mission work in Katsina, which is less than two hours from Daura, President Buhari’s hometown. I used to go to Dutsema where his advance motorcade was attacked. In all of those places, we did practical mission work. The first thing they have done to us is to make Southerners think that everybody in the North is Hausa. Now, they have started calling it Hausa/Fulani. There is nothing called Hausa/Fulani. There are people in the South that buy the lies that everybody in the North is a Muslim. You hear a name like Yakubu and you think it’s Islamic. There are people even bearing Islamic names but are not Muslims. So, the whole analysis is based on a false premise and there has always been inflation of figures. From pre-independence and post-independence, population has always been manipulated because of the culture that says you can’t enter a married man’s house in the North to count his wives and children. So, when people come to count during the census, somebody will just come out and say he has 12 wives and 75 children; you have no right to go and verify whatever list he gives. So, figures have always been manipulated and the whole idea is based on that false premise. If you really interrogate that and subject it to forensic analysis, things will fall apart.”

When asked if Christians will be told to vote against the APC, the clergyman stated that Christians are already mobilising to teach the APC a lesson not to trample on people who are tolerant.

He said, “It’s not whether CAN, PFN or we Christian leaders will mobilise our members to vote against the APC and this ticket, we are already doing it and we are going to do more.” He added, “Whether they win or lose, they will learn that you don’t trample on people because they are tolerant or because you have bought a few people that are compromised. We are going to teach them a lesson. We are telling Christians to keep praying, let’s cry to God that these people, instead of alleviating our pain and the blood that has been flowing, are exalting and brandishing themselves and gaslighting us. We will mobilise and do everything within our power. Even if we die in the process, it is worth it.”

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