SEYCHELLES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A LESSON FOR CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS 2020
NWAOZURU JOHNMAJOR CHINECHEREM INTRODUCTION
It is regretful that during general elections in Nigeria, some Christians do not actively participate as they neither vote nor contest to be voted for. This is based on the premise that the nature of politics ongoing in is a dirty game and hence Christians are not to be associated with such activity. Tshaka and Boitumelo (2016) observe that the problem is that the Church generally has denied its character as a political institution, has camouflaged its political processes, and has refused to admit the political responsibilities of its leaders (p. 1). This however, has made it necessary for this paper to be written to inform Christians in Nigeria that their active participation in politics is a Biblical mandate ( Nwaozuru, 2020) since Christians have moral rectitude as not only a religious being but also a socio-political being to contribute to the societal good of the society. When Christians fail to vote or to be voted for during elections, this can result to men of questionable characters to be in helm of affairs and thus, the society will suffer. Nigerian today is tagged as a Failed State simply because of bad leadership as Nwaozuru (2020) decry that despite an abundance of economic resources, attempts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development by successive administrations in Nigeria have not achieved better results. Lack of transparency in politics and corruption by political leaders, have hindered meaningful progress in Nigeria. It is logical to say that such government could be removed during the next general elections by active participation of Christians to elect people of good repute into power for the good of all citizens. Therefore, the active involvement of Christians into politics is relevant and as light of the world will help to transform the society to greater heights. The just concluded October 2020 Seychelles presidential election was historic as there was a change of government and the newly elected president is an Anglican priest who according to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (2020), has contested for six times without winning but became victorious at the seventh time under the umbrella of Seychelles National Party. The writer's opinion is that Christians in Nigeria should learn from the resilience of the clergy man and fellow Christians who voted him to power through active participation in the political process of their nation. This paper calls for proactive participation in politics by Christians in Nigeria. For a proper understanding of this paper, some key terms in the work will be defined. Terms worthy of definition are; Christian, election, presidential election, politics and political participation. Christian Ushe (2014) explains that the term Christian means Christ-like or a person resembles Christ in heart, character, spirit and action. A Christian is also a person who believes in the teachings of Christ. Election According to Aniekwe and Kushie (2011), the word elections encompasses all the events that happened during the days, weeks, months and even years before election dayincluding the campaign period. It includes not only the totality of what took place during the election period, but also all the post-election events. Presidential Election In this context, presidential election is taken to be when electorates cast votes to select among the presidential candidates who will rule them for a particular period of time. Politics Onyekpe (1998) defines the term politics as the struggle for power which itself is the authority to determine or formulate and execute decisions and policies, which must be accepted by the society. Political Participation Adelekan (2010) defines political participation as the process through which the individual plays a role in the political life of his society and has the opportunity to take part in deciding what common goals of the society are and the best way of achieving these goals. BRIEF HISTORY OF POLITICS IN NIGERIA Although the term politics originated from two Greek words polis meaning city and techne meaning art, skill or governing a city, it could be said that the art of governing a city started in Ancient Near East particularly within Sumerian in Mesopotamia. The struggle for power according to Adamo and Al- Ansari (2020), led to the defeat of the Sumerians by the Akkadians as the era ended by the accession of King Sargon I to the throne of Sumer and Akkad and the unification of the Sumerian city-states into the Akkadian Empire and the inauguration of the Akkadians period (2350-2150BC). They further report that the decline of the Akkadians' power and the taking over by new rising city of Babylon was all achieved through wars as result of power struggle. The above statement affirms active politics and struggle for power during the cradle of civilisation. Prior to the coming of the colonial masters in Nigeria, each ethnic nationality had a formidable governing body that directed the helms of affairs of the native people. In Northern Nigeria it was the Emirate system of government, while the Igbo had an egalitarian system of government and so on. Politics and power struggle was in full force as there were inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic wars such as the Owu-Ijebu war and many more. The advent of British government to West Africa, led to the creation of Nigeria, as Amah (2016) observes that the idea of modern Nigeria was brought under British rule by 1906 and in the year 1914, the colony of the protectorate of both the north and southern Nigeria became amalgamated under the governorship of Lord Lugard. The British established parliamentary system of government in running the political affairs of Nigeria . Adamo (2018) elucidates that the Macpherson Constitution of 1922 introduced elective principle which helped in the formation of political parties in Nigeria. The first political party, namely the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), formed by Herbert Macaulay in 1923 others such as Nigerian Youth Movement and Northern Peoples Congress were formed this led to elections and some indigenes were elected into power. In 1960, Nigeria got her independence and became a republic in 1963 few years later the military took over power in 1966 and ruled for over 30 years. In 1999, power was returned to civilian government (Fourth Republic) with democracy at the front burner of Nigerian as a democratic state. Since 1999 till date, the country has continued in an uninterrupted democratic dispensation.
RELIGION AND POLITICS IN NIGERIA Religion has been an indispensable phenomenon in Nigeria. Religion has become an important factor in political discourse. The influence of religion is not only limited to politics but its power influences virtually all other facets of life. Political power affects economic prosperity, social relation, educational advancement, and the psych of the society. There are three dominant religions in Nigeria: African Traditional Religion, Islam and Christianity. All these religions and their ideologies allow for interaction between religion and politics. Afolabi (2015) observes that the traditional religion of a society is a systematic reflection of their socio-cultural orientation, history and legacies on elemental forces, which in turn produces a belief in a supreme cosmic power that created heaven and earth. To this power belong all things in their social psych. Thus, traditional politics of the people has a strong linkage to belief in theocracy. To the Yoruba, Oba (king), the political leader of the people, is only holding his office in trust for Olodumare (the Supreme Being). More so, before an Oba is selected or appointed, as the case may be, the Ifa oracle must be adequately consulted for spiritual approval. In traditional Igbo society, it is believed that men do not contest for kingship but the supreme being chooses who becomes the king. This is shown in the name the Igbo bear such as Ezechimere (king made by God) and Chinemeze (God makes one king). Therefore, politics and religion in traditional society are intertwined and have direct influence on each other. Islam as a way of life dictates and governs the totality of life of Muslims from cradle to grave. Consequently, political interest, economic considerations, social values and interaction are often given Islamic interpretations based on the Holy Quran, prophetic practices and other sources of law recognized in Islam. These virtues are expected to permeate the socio-political structure of any Islamic state. In fact, Akintola (1997) elucidates that Prophet Mohammed was the spiritual as well as the political leader of his people during his lifetime; after his death, the Caliphs emerged and still held on to the same principles. Regardless of the nature of the society, Islam encourages Muslims to hold on to its principles by allowing the Holy Quran and the Sunnah to be their guide. One can conclude here that Islam allows for a spiritual relationship between religion and politics. Similarly, Abubakre (1984), writing from an Islamic perspective, suggests that Islam is a way of life, which dictates the political ideology and practice in any Islamic society. He points out that the ideals of Islam are good and are meant to guide political conducts, however, the practices of such ideals are usually influenced by the socio-cultural institutions in the society, including politics. Islam is believed to be relevant and integral to politics, law, education, social life, and economy. These are not viewed as secular institutions or areas of life but as aspects of the Islamic religion. Thus, from the Islamic perspective, religion, politics and society are interrelated. In Christianity, Afolabi (2015) opines that Jesus Christ did not discourage political participation for the faithful. Apostle Paul in Romans 13 recognizes that political leaders are chosen by God, some of the medieval popes were also involved in politics hence, there is no doubt that Christianity does not oppose politics but only warns against misuse of political power for selfish interest. Hence, from the outset the three main religions in Nigeria and politics have effectively complemented each other. As the Divine plays the religious role, human plays the political role. And the effectiveness of both religion and politics has been based, not only on the involvement of the divine in the activities of man, but also in following its ethics and principles. Human can hardly do without politics as well as religion in everyday life because man is both a religious and political being. Thus, Afolabi (2015) states that since we make use of each of them in our daily activities, we tend to politicize religion and religionize politics. Thus, Nigerian politics is characterized chiefly by politicization of religion and religionization of politics. Evidently, Christian active participation in politics is a biblical mandate. Proverbs 29:2 says When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan. Apostle Paul in Romans 13:1 testifies that "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God". Nmah (2012) opines that: It is therefore clear from Christian revelation view point that political power is from God and therefore, it is divine. It is a known fact that Christ's kingdom is not finally of this world, Christian responsibility extends from personal to the realm of politics, (p. 123). Nwaozuru (2020) views that politics and Church are two different entities that have helped in the growth and development of many countries in the world. Webber (1905) holds the view that the Church helped in developing many European countries through hard work, developing their own enterprise, engaging in trade and accumulation of wealth which was capitalist oriented. It could be observed that despite the fact that both have parallel practices, they share some common goals which are beneficial to man. Nwaozuru (2020) further states that the Church points to morality as its main focus while stressing that morality is a necessity for the continuity of any society. Meanwhile the continuity of a society is ensured by maintenance of law and order which emanates from political structure of a society. Church as a religious organization should not neglect politics as there is a firm belief that religion should be part of politics as religion provides unity, harmony and social stability for society. Colleen (2003) states that religion is vital for politics as religion drives people to obedience, makes them familiar with laws and how to live in a peaceful society. As religion is important to human life so also politics. Man is both a religious being and a political animal, this is shown in Genesis 1:26-28 where God created man in His own image and likeness and also He gave man dominion to rule over other creatures in the universe. This dominion given to man could be seen as political in nature. Christians cannot shy away from politics as Rotimi (2010) states that Christians must ensure that the democratic structure or experiment must be sustained. This can only be done by active involvement in politics. According to Afolabi (2015), in the Apostolic age, the Church witnessed an effective interplay between religion and politics. And where such interaction tends towards negative ends, the Apostles often adopted Christian principles to solve the problem as the Church spiritual leaders. Perhaps, the most significant interaction between religion and politics in Church history was witnessed during the Constantine and the post-Constantine era, where the emperor used machinery of the state to promote Christianity. Afolabi (2015) further opines that Jesus teachings and Pauline theology encourage political process and respect for those in political offices, since they are representatives of God (Matt. 22:17-20; Romans 13: 1-14). Nmah (2012) states that some of the more conservative believers would like to keep faith and politics apart as they consider politics as a dirty game but still it is of a tremendous importance to our society. According to Nwaozuru (2020), the involvement of Christians in politics in Nigeria is necessary; this should be done in a positive and careful manner simply because the need for ethical leadership in present-day Nigeria has become urgent. Christians involvement in political activities in the society is a vital tool for the development of the society. In the words of Nmah (2012): the Church as a sensitivity dynamic society will do all it can to socialize the individual, to promote social solidarity, foster stability in society, establish personal rights and status, support morality, meet social welfare and provide economic, educational and medical services to the people. (p.123). Nmahs view stipulate clearly the importance behind the participation in political activities by Christians, besides the paper is written with the purpose of yelling at the Christian to have a re-think on the political activities, and to encourage Christians to stand up and face the reality and became active in the polity. For it is only through the political system one can get into the civil government; it is only by that we can save ourselves from the hands of the world. For Jesus said in Matthew 5:116 “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Nwaozuru (2020) asks how can we shine if we abstain ourselves from the political activities in Nigeria? We all know that justice, honesty accountability, fairness and above all Godliness are needed in the political circle . Ayubi (1991) says that one of the main ways that Christian can positively influence the society and make a difference is to get involved in politics, business and social action. According to Barth (1989), “the poor, the socially and economically weak and threatened, will always be the object of the Churchs primary and particular concern, and it will always insist on the states special responsibility for these weaker members of society (p. 284) . The only way for the Church to do this is through active participation into the political realm of the day. By so doing Christians will truly become the light and the salt of the society. Barber (1984) enunciates that if these are to be achieved for the good of the Church and the society at large then it is necessary for Christians to get directly involved in the politics. This should be with the purpose of giving better leadership and beneficial governmental activities in the right direction. It is well known that Christians believe that God created human beings with freedom of choice, it must be assumed that people may choose. Therefore, Tshaka and Boitumelo (2016) elucidate that this statement proves that every Christian must be free to support any kind of political ideas and ideals. Nwaozuru (2020) observes that: The society that has good people representing them in the political circle would experience development and growth but any society that is unfortunate to have bad leaders ( that is those that do not have the society at heart) would not experience development nor growth as it should be. This has led to a point that some concern citizens are advocating for people to get involved in political practices with a very meticulous care and concern during election period, for whom they should elect as their representatives should be people they know with good reputation and ambition, because development and growth of any society lies in the hands of those they elect into political offices to represent them. Thus, involvement of Christians in Nigerian politics will in doubt ensure that citizens will reap the dividend of democracy and social Justice will prevail in the society. It is both a Biblical command and mandate for Christians to fulfill civic responsibilities and obligations in their respective societies of which political participation is among them. (pp.23-24). This paper calls for active Nigerian Christians' participation in politics as obedience both to the Biblical command and to the government.
THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION IN POLITICS IN NIGERIA Here we shall examine the influence of religion in various elections in Nigeria. Religion has played a major role from the early days of Nigerian elections. It is not unusual for Christian and Muslim politicians to employ prayer warriors or visit mega cathedral and top religious leaders in the country to receive their blessing so that they may win in election. Onapajo (2016) opines that: In 2010, former President Jonathan visited Redeemed Christian Church of God and Pastor Enoch Adeboye prayed for him, possibly for victory in 2011 election. It was also reported that many influential Christian pastors campaigned for him in their churches. For example, Pastor Paul Adefarasin asked his members to vote for a Christian President when Jonathan visited his Church in Lagos. (p. 120). During the just concluded Edo 2020 gubernatorial election, some religious leaders such as Bishop Hasan Kukah were present at the signing of Peace Accord by all the candidates contesting in the election especially Obaseki and Osagie ize-Iyamu. Religion is also an issue when it comes to campaigning and trying to persuade voters for support or dissuade the electorate from voting for a particular candidate. According to Johnstone (2001): A widely recognized point of religious influence over politics is that of peoples voting preference and behaviour. Such interest gives very explicit recognition to the correlation that exists between religious affiliation and commitment, on the one hand, and voting behaviour, on the other. That there should be a correlation is exactly what would be expected, of course, if religious affiliation and commitment mean anything at all. (p. 134). Adamo (2018) elucidates that the Macpherson Constitution of 1922 introduced elective principle which helped in the formation of political parties in Nigeria. The first political party, namely the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), formed by Herbert Macaulay in 1923 others such as Nigerian Youth Movement and Northern Peoples Congress were formed. Since the formation of political parties in Nigeria, religion has influenced politics in Nigeria. This is more apparent right from the early days of elections, especially in the northern part of Nigeria as early as the 1950s in ideology and membership of the parties. The three northern political parties were the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), and the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC). They displayed religious character with their leaders being Muslims and the parties seen as representing consensus Muslim communities (IJMA). Margaret cited by Ushe (2014) asserts that most of the elected people were adult Christians who had contact with western civilization, especially through education such , Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ekoti and so on. . Nwaozuru (2020) traces that throughout colonial political period, the Christian politicians dominated the scene of Nigerian politics because they accepted western education. It is clearly seen that most of the political developments in Nigeria during colonial period had bold stamp of the religious political factor. The political and religious ideologies were one. There was little or no demarcation between religion and politics. The influence of religion in party formation and voting was all over the country. In the second republic, Onapajo (2016) observes that religion did not disappear from politics, it was preceded by an intense debate between Christians and Muslims concerning the establishment and the inclusion of a Federal Saharia Court of Appeal. According to Adamo (2018), the 1954 election under the Lyttelton Constitution was highly influenced by religion as the electorates voted candidates who are of the same religion with them as Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo respectively won in each of their regions where their religion dominated. Such has been the electoral trend in Nigerian politics. During the military rule, one of the ways of seeing religious influence is the choice of a flag bearer and running mates for the election of presidency and governors. The sensitivity of religion came to play. Most of the time, it was Muslim/Christian or Christian/Muslim. Religion becomes an issue in these choices. For example, in 1979 the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) endorsed Muslim/Christian while the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) refused to adopt this stance but instead promoted a Christian/Christian ticket (Adamo, 2018). The fourth republic in 1999 was not void of the influence of religion. Onapajo (2016) observes that: When General Obasanjo, a Christian candidate, was elected, he was soon accused of favouring Christians by his Christian aids with the sole purpose of trying to Christianize Nigeria. Soon Pentecostal Christian leaders gave Obasanjo a name called born again president and saw him as a divinely chosen leader in answer to their prayers. (p. 119). It could be observed that during election periods most of the politicians visit mega churches seeking for the members support to win their opponents. From the above discussion, it has been demonstrated that religion has had an immense influence on politics in Nigeria especially in the period of elections in Nigerian.
CHRISTIAN/BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES OF POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT Many Christians have approached politics as if it lies outside their primary realm of responsibilities, but Nmah (2012) affirms that Christian responsibility extends from personal to the realm of politics. Politics is often viewed as part of the "world" that Christians ought not to love. Often times Christian life becomes confined to personal godliness, to Church activities, to attending liturgies, youth meetings, and Bible study. From this point of view, a Christian's involvement in politics is seen as a step into the secular world. From a biblical point of view, this dualistic distinction between Church and world, between the sacred and the secular, is mistaken. Nwaozuru (2020) states that: Yahweh has been the leader of the Ancient Israel (theocracy) as his political administration was through religious leaders until the people decided to have a king which was the origin of monarchy in Israel. Some of the monarchs in Israel sought for divine direction and wisdom to rule Yahweh's people such as Solomon, David, Asa and many more. In both the Old Testament and New Testament, God is considered as one ruling the world yet he delegates power to men on earth to rule. Daniel 4:32 "The Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will". Paul teaching on the fact that all the power that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1). This was also taught by Peter (1 Peter 2:13-17). In this context, the expression the power that be refers to government. Sometimes God uses the government to achieve good purposes. (p. 26). According to Iyabo (2015), the example of Cyrus, the great ruler of the Persian Empire in the sixth century BC gives us a clear insight into how God works with men on authority. God gave him victory after victory in his rise to power for the political survival of Israel. It could be said that God used Emperor Constantine to stop the persecution of Christians. Hence, God instituted government to ensure law and order in the universe He created. Government is an institution designed by God just like marriage for the smooth running of the universe. God ordered all of creation and expects order in the political community as well. In other words, civil authorities are the custodians of the human society and therefore maintain societal order. It could be said that politics started from creation as Uzoigwe (2011) states that God having looked at everything he made and was very pleased (Gen 1:31), he delegated authority to the first man. God entrusted to man the duty (political power and authority) to lead the world and everything in it to the overall good of man and to the glory of God. Tshaka and Boitumelo (2016) state that the idea of a government is God ordained; it is thus a gift that we receive from God. Supporting the above viewpoint, Feinberg (1999) elucidates that government is a part of Gods providence, a fact of biblical history, and an important factor in the outworking of biblical prophecy. Apostle Paul affirms to this in Romans 13:1 where he says Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God". According to Feinberg (1999), Paul reasons that God is firmly in control of human history, and that no one comes to a place of leadership without Gods permission. Civil government is not a human invention, but of divine origin. Daniel 2:20-21 said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His|He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. Also according to Daniel 2:37-38, You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all". Christ the son of God is also a ruler Isaiah 9:6 “And the government will be upon his shoulder. The above Biblical quotes show that God is very aware of politics in human society.
Purpose of Government The purpose of every government is to enforce the law and order in the society and safeguard lives and properties. This is because without law and orderliness there will be chaos which could lead to destruction of lives. Government is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer (Romans 13:4), since most people cannot be ruled by love, they must be ruled by law. That is inevitable in an imperfect world. So God has ordained that there should be ruling authorities to keep law and order. Uzoigwe (2011) supports that all rulers are chosen by God and divinely ordained. God has ordained that there should be ruling authorities to keep law and order in the society.
CHRISTIANS DUTIES TO THE GOVERNMENT Prayer Praying for our government is a core duty of Christians to those in authority. This is made explicit in 1Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, request and thanksgiving be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful; conduct. Prayer is an indefatigable factor towards the well-being of the society. The ruling authority desires prayer for effective and efficient result. It guarantees proper conduct which in turn ensures harmonious co-existence and peace. Considering its importance, Ezeanya (1990) states that Pope Leo XIII proposed prayer in line with the Christian life as a remedy for the ills of our societies. Let then the habit of prayer be sacred to all; let soul and voice join together in prayer and let our whole daily life agree together so that by keeping the laws of God, the course of our days may seem a continual assent to him. This prayer demand of the Christian more importantly should be accompanied with practical requirements that enliven prayer. Nwaozuru (2020) supports that Christians are to pray for leaders to rule in accordance with divine direction as leaders are faced with various challenges; quoting Shakespeare uneasy lies the head that wears the crown therefore leaders need to be prayed for in order to be democratic and uphold the rule of law that ensures equity of all citizens in the society.
Submission and Obedience to Constituted Authority Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to be submissive to the government. According to Uzoigwe (2011), the Christians obedience to the constituted authority is a fundamental duty, a moral assignment as attested by the conscience. This goes further to explain that such a duty should as a matter of importance stem from love. Coleman, (1997) elucidates that Paul places obedience to authorities in the moral realm; for the Christian, disregard of authority is a sin. This is because the authorities are Gods servants. Christians have an obligation to give obedience to civic authority. The authority in this context, is the government as Gods institution through which the human welfare are being attended to. Believers are urged to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men (Titus 3:1-2). Hebrews 13:17 says obey your leaders and submit to them, while Peter counsels Christians to fear God and honour the Emperor (I Peter 2:17). In supporting this, Familusi (2017) says that Jesus and the apostles recognised the authority of the state and advocated that in a matter of conscience, its laws must be obeyed. In other words, the Christians have duties towards the state in which he finds himself. Christians are encouraged to submit to every human authorities. This loyalty to the constituted authority is a form of allegiance to God who initiated the idea of leadership and authority. The ruling authority spearheads the activities in an orderly manner as Gods instruments. It is therefore, a moral duty for every Christian to show obedience devoid of compulsion or fear of punishment to the authorities, who are the custodian of Gods providence. The Christians should take the lead of fostering the good of all by paying allegiance and being submissive to the governing authorities as the power of the latter is derived directly from God. In so doing Dim (2009) opines that Christians would be able to exhibit the peace and profound genuineness of the Christian religion among their non-believing neighbours and at the same time influence the entire polity for the better. It is necessary to ask whether Christians should uncritically support all actions of all governments? The Holy Bible teaches us that there are times when it is right to disobey government laws that is when the laws are in contradiction to God's commands. For instance, Nwaozuru (2020) points to the following: The Hebrew midwives in Egypt disobeyed Pharaoh's order for God's sake. During the reign of Antiochus (IV) many Jews disobeyed his laws because it was contrary to their faith even though the punishment was death. This was also demonstrated by Daniel as well as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Old Testament (Daniel 6: 1-28; Daniel 3) as they refused to yield to Nebuchadnezzar's order of worshipping the Babylonian gods. Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). When Peter and John were warned to not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they replied them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge (Acts 4:19). (p. 31). Uzoigwe (2011) states that: It is therefore worthy of note that the obedience Paul enjoins the Christian to accord the constituted authority should spring from the conscience as a moral act and not necessarily for the avoidance of punishment. Therefore, civil disobedience is in contrast with the biblical injunctions except where disobedience to the human government would be pertinent so as to obey Gods command. (p. 75). In view of the above question Obiora (2009) asserts that fathers of the Second Vatican Council comment that when citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do whatever is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own right and those of their fellow citizens against abuses of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the law of the gospel. Therefore, Christians are to submit and obey the government only when the laws are not contrary to Gods command. Geisler (1985) has compiled a list of these exceptional circumstances: i. When the government prohibits the worship of God (Exodus 5:1). ii. When it requires the taking of innocent life (Exodus 1:15-21). iii. When it demands killing of Gods servants (1 Kings 18:1-4). iv. When it requires the worship of idols (Daniel 3:1-7). v. When it commands prayer to a man (Daniel 6:6-9). vi. When it prohibits the propagation of the gospel (Acts 4:17-20). Vii. When it demands the worship of a man as God (Revelation 13:4, 8).
Payment of Tax Payment of tax is not new, Christ chose a tax collector (Matthew) as one of His disciples. He paid tax to the Roman government of His time. It was the British government that introduced taxation in Nigeria during the colonial period. Taxation is source of revenue to government hence, the government always impose tax on her citizens. Jesus did not only encourage his followers including contemporary Christians to pay taxes but Jesus exemplified true obedience to the constituted authorities by paying tax which is part of his civic duties Matthew 17:24-27. Paul also did not shy away from this (Romans 13:6-7). According to the teachings Paul in Romans 13: 1-7, Christians are under obligation to pay their dues (of which taxation is included) to the state. This is because, as beneficiaries of it, they owe some payment in return for the protection and amenities it provides, and because no state can function without revenues and resources and therefore a fundamental refusal to pay taxes may cause the state to be bankrupt and fail to provide basic social amenities to the citizenry (Nwaozuru, 2020). Therefore, Christians are to pay tax as part of their civic responsibility to the government and mark of a true Christian.
REASONSC CHRISTIANS AVOID INVOLVING IN POLITICS IN NIGERIA The current political situation in Nigeria is associated with many ills which make it unhealthy ground for innocent citizens or Christians to willingly and actively participate in the political process. Ushe (2014) captures the political scenario of Nigeria in his statement: The political history of Nigeria has manifested an unmerited monotony of rascality, political, unbridled corruption, political blundering, moral decadence, incessant conflicts, and political motivated assassinations of political opponents, molestations of innocent citizens, wanton destruction of properties that worth millions of naira, political sycophancy and lawlessness due to the introduction of monetization of politics. (p. 21). People opt for political positions not for the sole purpose of rendering services to the people but for self-aggrandizement. The manner in which election campaign is being conducted in Nigerian would attest to this point. On that note Ugwu (2011) states that politicking in Nigeria is scary; killing, poisoning, character and real assassination, occultism have become associated with it. Party membership and opposition are not understood as differences in vision or opinion but rather as enmity. The Nigerian society seems helplessly submerged in corruption and bad leadership. Political leaders embezzle, misappropriate and divert public fund to their personal account. In Nigeria, corruption practices are truly witnessed in our politics hence, Uzoigwe (2011) observes that Nigerian leaders are found wanting in ideal characters that extol governance. Their attitude to the leadership requirement is faulty, unimpressive and substandard. The resultant effect is egocentrism, looting, corruption. On the part of the society poverty, moral depravity, social vices, unemployment and many more become the dividend. From the above viewpoint, Nwaozuru (2020) summarise that politics in Nigerian is associated with election violence, intimidation of voters, vote buying, thuggery, assassination of political opponents and so on. Due to all these, many Christians in Nigeria conceive politics as a dirty game, evil and something not worth venturing in. Another reason is ignorance and poor orientation and many more. A lesson from 2020 Seychelles presidential election could be an antidote to political apathy among Christians in Nigeria. SEYCHELLES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Brief History of Seychelles: Government and the 2020 Presidential Election According to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (2020), Seychelles the Indian Ocean archipelago is a former British colony which became independent in 1976. Mr Faure's United Party seized power in a coup a year later, and retained the presidency in elections after multi-party democracy was restored in 1993. There was evidence of past political murders, torture and corruption when Seychelles was still a one-party state which Mr Faure's administration failed to properly address thus, the power that Faure's party seized in a coup 43 years ago was taken back at the ballot box by a population demanding change. This led to the Anglican priest Wavel Ramkalawan to defeat President Danny Faure through active political participation of the people.
Wavel Ramkalawan Seychelles New President: An Anglican Priest
LESSON FOR CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS Massive Active Participation in the Political Process During Election Periods Christians in Seychelles did not shy away from active participation in politics in their nation despite that the political process is engulfed in corruption hence, they opted for change through the ballot box. The political scenario in Seychelles is similar to that of Nigeria, thus, it becomes clear and imperative for Christians to participate in political activities that determine the fate of the state. The writer is aware that some Christians are actively participating in the politics of the nation as there are many Christians who have involved in politics, vied for one political position or the other; some have won political seats as Councilors, Local Government Chairmen, Governors, Senators, President and Vice President while others have not. Rotimi (2010) points to Rev. Chris Okotie presidential candidate of the Fresh Party in the 2007 general elections, others are Pastor Tunde Bakare (Latter Rain Assembly) former running mate of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 under the umbrella of Congress for Progressive Change. Nwaozuru (2020) reports that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) under Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the gubernatorial candidate in 2016 election in Edo state, Bishop Dr. Emeka Nwankpa (Chapel of Faith Bible Assembly International) contested for governorship in Anambra State in 2011 and also contested for House of Representatives in Abia State under All Progressive Grand Alliance in 2019 General Elections. Both the 2015 and 2019 general elections, Buhari picked a Pentecostal pastor and Professor, Yemi Osinbajo of RCCG as his running mate and they won in the general elections respectively. Yemi Osinbajo is currently the Vice President of Nigeria. In the just concluded Edo state gubernatorial election in September 2020, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu contested under All Progressive Congress (APC) although he lost the bid. But it could be observed that there is need for massive Christian participation in future elections in Nigeria. According to The Church Must Vote (TCMV) (2019), despite being the largest demography in Nigeria with over 85 million people according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) statistics, the church in Nigeria is a minority in the area of national leadership and decision-making. TCMV (2019) further observed that INEC records show that the voter turnout in Christian dominated states especially in the south is very low. This was the reason behind the establishment of The Church Must Vote (TCMV) online and offline campaign movement in Nigeria. According to Uwalaka, Nwala and Amadi (2020): TCMV is a civil society group which is a non-partisan movement of committed Christians aimed at influencing decision making outcomes through participation in the civic process. TCMV want to enhance the Church's civic vitality and make Christians the leading voices in nation-building. This objective could be achieved if Christians were active in the democratic process and ready to uphold their civil rights obligations. (p.2). TCMV team campaigned in many mega Churches for Christian to come out and vote during the 2019 general elections. This is because Christians as citizen should form part of the government where issues that make or mar the society are determined. Both the government and the Church are institutions through which God extends His services to humankind hence, this calls for active Christian participation in politics which is paramount. Nwaozuru (2020) encourages Nigerian Christians as citizens to involve in politics to ensure that social justice, equity and peace prevail in the society. A Christian as a citizen has a fundamental obligation of active participation in political activities in his state and not to shy away from them. Nothing justifies the Christian not to partake in political exercise as it is a Biblical mandate. In Matthew chapter 5:13-14, Jesus calls the Christians salt of the earth and light of the world. Uzoigwe (2011) comments thus as salt of the earth, the Christians are charged with the duty of giving taste to the people and as light of the world to give radiation to every aspect of human existence of which politics is not exempted. This demand is not restricted to the Church alone but to every facet of life. Though you should be a light to your Church and fellowship members, it must not stop there. You are to be a light to others. By implication, Christians should shine also in the political sphere of the society. Therefore, it is a necessity for Christians to be involved in the politics that governs their existence in civil society. Since Christians believe that that God created human beings with freedom of choice, it must be assumed that people may choose. Tshaka and Biotumelo (2016) opine that the statement proves that every Christian must be free to support any kind of political ideas and ideals in his society. Above all, to demystify through all kinds of intellectual tools, the concealed ideologies used by our governments to hide and justify the inhuman situation of the majority of our population is the ultimate task of theological engagement. Marshall (1984) shares the same view by defining the state as what God through Jesus Christ has set up to maintain justice. Its officers are as much ministers of God as the prophets and priests. Marshalls definition and classification of political officers as ministers of God agrees with Romans 13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. For he is Gods servant for your good. This helps us to transcend the situation where some people only view politics as cruel and morally dangerous. According to Uzoigwe (2011), in Matthew 20:28 Jesus gave what could be called his political mandate as service to the people. Hence, Christians are to involve in politics to ensure that service to humanity is not neglected in the society. Therefore, the Christian though of heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20) should consider active involvement in politics as a God-given role towards ensuring and fostering societal development. Christians in Nigeria should learn from the positive action of Christians in Seychelles during their presidential election in 2020 and make the desired change they want to be actualised through massively voting for or be voted for during elections
Christian Youths Participation in Politics The active participation of Christian youths in Seychelles was very crucial to the actualisation of the desired change in government. Christian youths in Nigeria should emulate such action. This paper makes a clarion call for greater Christian youths participation in Nigerian politics. Nwaozuru (2020) enunciates that Nigerian Christian youths as light of the world should avoid being used as tools for political instability but rather be a veritable political tool for socio-political development of our society. Ushe (2014) states that: Christian youth, who have a role to play in political education, mobilization, sponsorship of the competent ones among them for elective posts and sponsorship of legislations that will ensure good and just governance the Christian youths are leaders of tomorrow and so must participate in the politics of their nation in character, spirit or action that resemble Christ. They must not be as onlookers, passengers or passive participates in the political affairs of the nation. The Christian youths must be actively involved in politics in order to guide or influence government policy, with the sole objective to ensure just and fair governance. (p. 25). Active participation of Christian youths in politics can take various forms. The Christian youths can sponsor competent Christians for elective posts. When such members get elected they should be able to guide and influence legislation in the house of representative, assembly or senate as the case may be. The Christian youths, through such representative may introduce bills that will ensure good governance in Nigeria. Nigerian Christian youths may not form an exclusive political party. They may belong to any political party of their choice, massively support or vote true Christians aspiring for political offices. Ushe (2014) further opines that Christian youths should practice their politics without compromising their religious values and convictions. They should inject Christian values into the polity to transform ill political behaviours witnessed in Nigerian politics such as corruption, election malpractice, vote buying and many more.
Virtues Nigerian Christians Should Portray in Politics Since Christians in Nigeria are called to actively participate in politics, bearing in mind that the current political system is engulfed by corruption, there is need for Christians to portray virtues to enable them be fair and just in politicking. Portraying Christian virtues will help to right the wrongs in the society in order for sustainable development to be achieved in our nation. According to Nwaozuru (2020), for Nigeria to experience development and sustain it, application of the following virtues by both leaders and followers is crucial and not negotiable. Some of the virtues include; patriotism, loyalty, faithfulness, honesty, equity, fairness, adherence to oath of office, accountability, transparency and so on. In all, the love of God and other fruit of the spirit must be put to practice by Christians in the political field. CONCLUSION
The October 2020 Seychelles presidential election marked a historic political land mark as the citizens of Seychelles opted for a change of government through the ballot box to get the desired change they wanted. An Anglican priest by name Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party won the election despite losing six times. A lot of lessons could be drawn from the active participation of Christians in Seychelles during the presidential election that led to the defeat of Danny Faure of United Seychelles Party whose administration has been marred by corruption. This paper makes a clarion call for Nigerian Christians to massively involve in present day politics. Christians are salt and light of the world thus Nigerian Christians must shine amidst corrupt political leaders and portray true Christian values and exemplary Christians life in the political system of Nigerian nation. It could be said that there is the possibility of effective and successful governance in Nigeria if Christians in Nigeria are actively participating in the politics of the nation. It is paramount to know that the Church that can participate in Nigerian politics is the Church that is Christ spirit oriented and the one that knows its positive mission in the world. Christians can contribute to democratic politics without losing sight of its mission, vision and indeed, credibility. Therefore, this paper serves as a clarion call to awaken the political consciousness of Nigerian Christians to be proactive participants in politics in order to help in building the nation to greater heights and to ensure that social justice and equity prevails in the society.
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