AMINA BRAI OMOIKE
Churches across Nigeria are driving participation in the upcoming 2023 general elections by compelling their members to register and obtain their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC).
A video that went viral on social media on Sunday showed a Catholic priest in northern Nigeria asking members without PVC to return home. In his words: “There is no point in having Christians fill the church, but during the election, we have only a handful of them go out to vote. So, it means our number, our population means nothing. We want Christians to take their responsibility and their role seriously.” The priest then instructed those with their PVC to come into the church and those without to go back home.
Some other Catholic churches in parts of the nation also witnessed the same trend.
In the same vein, General Overseer of Omega Power Ministries (OPM), Apostle Chibuzor Gift Chinyere on Sunday, issued a 7-day ultimatum to beneficiaries of the OPM Divine Market, free schools, free hospitals, scholarship programs, rehabilitation programs and free accommodation to get their PVCs or lose those benefits. Last week, the cleric donated all 300 branches of OPM around Nigeria to be used as PVC registration/collection centres free of charge by INEC.
In an official statement, Apostle Chibuzor said the church will borrow INEC space for PVC registration to enable OPM members who have not registered to get registered. He also offered for the church to contribute small allowances for the INEC officers to show up on Sunday, while other working days will be paid by INEC.
He also encouraged other General Overseers to mobilize their members for PVC registration across Nigeria and let INEC also open PVC collection centres in various church branches, so that members will not give any excuse for not registering in the next election.
Pastor Emmanuel Iren, founder and lead pastor, Celebration Church International Global for some time has encouraged people to get their PVCs and be ready to vote. Revealing that his church has young people who are politically inclined and interested in politics, he noted that they are at the sensitization phase. “We are letting people know that it’s a game of numbers and we have to recognize that the church has the numbers. We must see ourselves not just as a congregation, but as a market. We are influential and we have a voice. We are not just believers, we are bonafide citizens of the country and we know our rights and the laws. We are ready, not just through prayers, but also through advocacy to drive the change we want to see”, he said.
Pastor Paul Adefarasin, Metropolitan Senior Pastor of the House on the Rock churches said that it is imperative that every believer; online and offline, gets his / her PVC.
“I’m a man under authority; once used to be the Deputy President of the PFN (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) and did not want to go further in that structure, in that executive office; so I can have more time to pastor this church and other things I feel like God is telling me to do. I’m still on the National Advisory Council and we have been instructed that every Christian, every human being you can contact must have a PVC and must prepare to vote.
“We believe we can get 15 million more voters and that becomes a very significant bloc that must be respected and it adds to the platform of our voice, harmonised as Christian leaders.
The Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Samuel Kanu, had, during the 60th Synod of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Ibadan Diocese, declared that any Methodist Church member of voting age must get and validate their Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
Kanu, represented by the synod Secretary, Very Rev. Davidson Aluko, called on all faithfuls never to collect money before voting to achieve the country’s desired results of enthroning righteous administration. He said that this will ensure an administration that will usher in adequate security and economic buoyancy which will enable us to enjoy full dividends of democracy, is enthrpned.
For gospel singer / minister, Nathaniel Bassey, it is time to carry out the ‘Project PVC’ which stands for ‘Pray, Vote and Count’. This came a day after he urged Christians on his official Instagram handle to put up ‘JESUS’ on the status and display profiles across social media platforms.
“Yesterday while JESUS trended in a most supernatural way, some imported and juxtaposed the PVC narrative, as though Jesus had something against getting your PVCs and voting. The same Jesus that said give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar? Well, we know it was not a case of us downplaying PVCs. It was just pure hatred for Jesus and the discomfort they have with Him.
“So we pray! At all times, for and about everything. Elections inclusive. Too many scriptures to quote but not enough room to share. Nehemiah prayed before embarking on the building project. Even more so, do we need to pray as we build a new Nigeria? Then we vote. Vote what? Vote values, vote principles. Vote vision. It doesn’t matter if you think it won’t matter in the end. You just be a person of principle and refuse to join the bandwagon. Then we ensure and insist that our votes are counted and that they indeed count,” he added.