Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday, said it had not changed its position on the same-faith ticket.

”If we want to change any position, we’ll let the Nigerian public know,” the Christian body said on a day the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, and their Social Democratic Party, SDP, counterpart, Adewole Adebayo, met with its leadership to discuss issues of concern to Christians in the country, ahead of the 2023 elections.

The three candidates also unfolded their agenda on restructuring, insecurity, economy, power, and corruption.

While Atiku shared how he planned to address the age-old issue of restructuring and devolution of power to the federating units, if elected in the 2023 election, Obi highlighted his vision for the economy and wealth creation, as Adebayo said he would prioritize food security, housing, education, and infrastructure development.

CAN, however, presented an 11-point demand entitled, ‘Charter for Future Nigeria’ to the presidential candidates which outlined key areas of interest for the good of the common man.

The religious body also added that a holistic amendment of the 1999 Constitution was a necessity for justice, peace, unity, prosperity, and progress of the nation.

At the interactive session were leaders of CAN and representatives of various Christian blocs; Atiku’s running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; and the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Others include the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tom Ikimi; and Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications Plc, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.

Also present were a former governor of Cross River, Liyel Imoke; Senator Philip Aduda, Senator Dino Melaye, Timi Alaibe, Kenneth Imasuagbon, Dele Momodu, former Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State, and other PDP, LP, and SDP chieftains among others.

We won’t endorse any candidate —CAN

In his remarks, the CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, said CAN is very careful not to be partisan, insisting that its position on same-faith ticket remains the same.

He said: “We have not changed our position (on same-faith ticket). If we want to change any position, we’ll let the Nigerian public know. And so, when people read insinuations in social media, I will advise that people come to verify and to be sure that what they see out there is truly the position of CAN.

“This year, CAN has decided to expand this interactive session to include the media and other leaders so that the conversation will be seen to be as open as possible, and that the people will see that there is no secret. There are no secret meetings and there is nothing hidden at all in any conversation.

“We gave two dates and we wrote to all the 18 presidential candidates and we invited all to an interactive session on November 15 and November 16.

“We are not going to endorse any political party. And we also want to let you know that the Christian Association of Nigeria has taken a stand on a number of political issues in this country, not for the church alone, but for the well-being of the people and the future of our country. And we are not about to change those positions we have taken because it took us a long time to arrive at those positions and decisions.”

Atiku addresses CAN

Atiku Abubakar assured the Christian leaders of devolving power to the component regions and states of the federation, noting that restructuring of the country is imperative for Nigeria to make progress in 2023 and beyond.

Broaching the issue which has been a sensitive and contentious subject between the Northern and Southern regions, the PDP flag bearer agreed with CAN that state police and fiscal restructuring are constitutional matters requiring the urgent attention of the country’s next president.

He took a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, saying it deceived Nigerians in 2015 by promising to restructure the country which it didn’t to date.

He said: “My brothers and sisters, I stand before you here not to campaign but to tell you the honest truth. What you have presented to us is what I have always believed in and if I have the opportunity. I swear to God I will do it.

“We cannot have state police without having a constitutional amendment, so we will go into constitution amendment where we will have different levels of police. These are our plans to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

“For sure, we need a judicial amendment, first of all, there are poor wages for Judges and very poor working conditions. Again, the judiciary has levels, federal judiciary, state, but we will attempt as much as possible to have a judicial reform where we will improve dispensation of justice and also the welfare of Judges.”

He vowed to expunge the sections of the 1999 Constitution that reinforced indigeneship at the expense of citizenship.

“I am a supporter of the removal of clause of the definition of indigeneship in our constitution. Once you reside in any part of the country, and you pay your taxes, you should be entitled to indigeneship,” he noted.

Obi takes the stage

Speaking when he took the centre stage, the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, said he would rescue Nigeria from its status as a failed state if elected president in 2023.

Like Atiku, he reiterated that insecurity would be a thing of the past under his administration, declaring that he was committed to unlocking the greatness of the country and lifting her from a consuming country to a producing one.

The former Anambra governor said all the 18 presidential candidates would make the same promises, but asked Nigerians to check the sincerity of their promises and support those they could trust.

Obi said Nigeria had met the qualifications to be characterized as a failed state because the country is no longer in control of its territory and economy.

“All presidential candidates will tell you the same story, everybody’s story will be as sweet as the other ones. What you are going to do is to check the sincerity and the truth and the one you can trust.

“It is now who among these 18 presidential candidates can you trust because there is no promise that we are going to make that has not been made in the past, that promise has always been there.

“What I want to do is to move the country from consumption to production, it is not a productive country, our priority is to secure and unite the country, it is the number one thing you need to do.

“Nigeria has hit the two most critical things that qualify a country to a failed state, number one, when you are no longer in control of your territory, we are no longer in control of our territory, number two, is when you are no longer in control of your economy, nobody can tell you today how much they are going to sell a bag of rice tomorrow. No country can function like that.

State, religion like Siamese twins —SDP candidate, Adebayo

When it was his turn to speak, the SDP presidential candidate stated that it was wrong to separate the state from religion in the pursuit of the common good for all.

According to him, both are like Siamese twins and mutually reinforce each other for the peace and progress of the nation, but regretted that unscrupulous politicians seek to break that bond between the two.

“That is why leaders when they are doing wrong, I mean political leaders, and religious leaders come out to talk, they will say, separate religion from state.

“But when the state is in trouble, we’ll call religious leaders to come and explain. When we have failed in our credibility, because we have not provided for the people, and they’re not listening to us. We go to religious leaders for help,” he explained.

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