Delta governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has called on Christians in politics to always strive to affect lives positively, especially the poor and vulnerable in the society.
Governor Okowa who made the call while speaking at the 22nd biennial delegates conference of the Joint Council of Knights, Church of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion, held at All Saints Cathedral, Ughelli, said Christians in politics should embrace humility and lead by example.
According to him, they (Christians in politics) must have a distinctive character that truly portrays the Spirit of Christ in them, adding that the change that we desire begins with each person choosing to do the right thing wherever he/she is.
The governor who spoke on ‘Christians in Politics’, said a Christian in politics should guard against prayerlessness, saying that, to neglect the prayer factor was akin to depending on one’s abilities, intelligence and skills which, according to him, could very easily lead to lose of focus and direction.
While saying that it is true that Christians must not shy away from politics, he said that it is equally true that salvation does not come from any human government, pointing out that the problems of this world were the result of sinful humanity.
He pointed out that the ultimate hope of Christians was not in any political platform or human leader but in Jesus Christ, saying “as Christians, we are not even under obligation to vote for someone just because he or she professes faith in Christ. First of all, there are hucksters who use religion for political gain.
“Secondly, just because somebody is a Christian does not mean he will be a wise or just leader. He must possess demonstrable capacity to govern and the moral backbone to resist corruption.
“Thirdly, you don’t need salt in large quantities to make a difference; you just need a small quantity. I have said it before and I will say it again: It is not that Christians are not where they should be; it is that they are not always what they should be.
“The truth of the matter is that we have enough Christians in the political and civic affairs of this nation to make a difference. If this is not happening, then the question to be asked is why? What is apparent is that many people are Christians only in name,” Okowa added.
He disclosed that it was incumbent on every Christian to acquaint himself or herself with all the relevant information about how the political and electoral system works, adding that ignorance has been the major undoing of many Christians claiming to have heard from God to run for political offices.
“Let me hasten to add that getting information is not only for those aspiring to political office. We owe ourselves the responsibility of knowing what the various parties and candidates in an election stand for so that we can vote wisely. Too often, we don’t even bother to read the manifestoes of the candidates but rather choose to queue up along ethnic, sectional, or religious lines.
“There are three major ways we can participate in politics namely; by voting, running for political office, and setting agenda for the government ; we must exercise our right to vote whenever the opportunity comes.
“It is the area of running for political office that is most contentious. I am aware that there seems to be a consensus to get more Christians involved in partisan politics. There is nothing wrong in that.
“I must, however, caution that as Christians, politics is not what we do as an ambition of the heart ,but out of a sense of calling to serve in that sphere of life. If God is the one leading us, we can be sure of His sustaining grace.
“We cannot all run for political office. Some of us may discover our calling in other areas such as forming an activist group or civil society organization to act as a pressure group on the government to do the right thing. We have witnessed the growing clout of these organisations in influencing governments all over the world.
“But it does seem to me that they tend to be dominated by people with questionable values and motives. I will like to see Christians form NGOs to advocate for the right persons to be elected into office, eradication of social inequities, and enthronement of righteousness and justice in the political space,” the governor said.
Earlier in his address, the Archbishop and Metropolitan Primate of Church of all Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba enjoined Knights to help their bishop and clergy in propagating the gospel.
Primate Ndukuba whose address was read by the Archbishop of Bendel Ecclesiastical Province and Bishop of Ughelli Diocese, the Most Reverend Cyril Odutemu, said Knights are responsible people who should help in all ramifications to forestall any untold event both in the church and the larger society.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand, therefore, unity among individual knights between diocesan councils and national body is not negotiable,” he said ,adding that they should avoid clash of interest in the performance of their duties to the church as Knights.
In his remarks, Archbishop Odutemu who expressed appreciation to Governor Okowa for honouring the invitation of the Council of Knights, prayed for more resources in the state to enable him (the governor) execute more people oriented projects for Deltans.
Meanwhile, the governor took out time to visit one Mr. Ovoke Igete at the General Hospital, Ughelli a member of the vigilante group who sustained gunshot injuries in an attempt to rescue some kidnap victims in the area where he (the governor) promised that the state government would pick up the bills of his medical treatment.