Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has dismissed the notion that churches and devout Christians are not supposed to show interest in politics, describing it as self-exclusion from good governance and nation-building.
Ekweremadu bared his mind in a paper entitled “The Role of the Church and Politician in Politics and Democratic Nation-Building”, he delivered at the Standing Committee forum of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Church), which held at the All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State on Thursday.
The Senator, who was represented by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor Offornze Amucheazi, equally enjoined Christians in politics to be exemplary and lead by bible principles.
“Often times, you hear Christians say that the church should not be involved in politics. That, by extension, is self-exclusion in the task of nation-building.
“It is important that the Church does not remain aloof, but should play a decisive role in the task of nation-building. In doing so, she helps to foster development, national identity, and create stability in society.
“It is this lack of national identity and instability that has brought our country to where it is today. It is the lack of national identity that has fostered the divisiveness in our country and created the insecurity which we now experience”, he said.
Ekweremadu said the Church could participate in politics and nation-building without being partisan by engaging in political education, mass mobilisation for political participation, encouraging obedience to constituted authorities and rule of law, counselling and nurturing of political leaders, capacity building and peer review opportunities for leaders, and acting as watchdog of the polity by calling out leaders, when they fail, but encouraging them where they have done well.
“The Church should not only condemn anti-people policies, but also ensure that such condemnations are based on informed knowledge and verifiable facts. This is why I advocate that the Church should set up Research units that will help analyse government policies and proffer alternatives where necessary”, he stated.
The lawmaker emphasised that beyond the critical role of praying for the nation, the Church should also minister to the physical needs of the people in tangible ways through social welfare and provision of affordable social amenities as was the case in the days of the missionaries.
He however urged political leaders to stand for what is right and just at all times, irrespective of the temporary consequences as they would ultimately render account to God for whatever opportunity they had to serve the people.
“I believe that a man, most especially a Christian, should stand for something and be ready to bear the brunt and suffer the persecutions or even die for what he believes to be right.
“It is not easy to trade political patronage and promotion for political persecutions and suffocation. But in the end, you are happy with yourself that you made the body of Christ proud and that you live in good conscience”, he concluded.