Debo Onifade

In a recent TV interview, I proposed that INEC should lobby Pastor E.A. Adeboye and Sultan of Sokoto in their bid to get a sweeping electoral reform passed.  I based this on the premise that since both individuals are very influential, their support for INEC will go a long way in making our federal legislators and president Buhari to reluctantly pass and sign the law.  Let’s talk about Pastor E.A. Adeboye first – he has massive influence over many Christians across Nigeria and I personally estimate the number of Christians that he can possibly influence to about 40million (perhaps minimum of 10million).  No serious politician will joke with him because even though he doesn’t openly endorse candidates, his tacit support can get millions of votes for candidates.  Pastor Adeboye can speak to the president and vice president, APC national leader and many lawmakers.  As a matter of fact, if Pastor Adeboye calls President Buhari to say he fully supports INEC’s request because he is convinced it will improve Nigeria’s election, and threatens to lead a 1million mass protest to put pressure on the federal government and legislators to pass this reform bill, I strongly believe President Buhari will agree.  And if the president is on board, I strongly believe this reform bill will be passed by the legislators within weeks.

I reckon the president may also not mind signing the bill since he is already on his last term as president.  Some people may call that selfish, but I don’t care as long as the bill we’re talking about is good for Nigeria.  If INEC is able to convince Pastor Adeboye that the electoral reform bill to enforce electronic voting, punish electoral offenders and resolve pre-election matters before election will greatly reduce rigging and improve the chances of good people winning elections, I don’t understand why he will not agree to fully support this course.  I am deliberately mentioning Pastor Adeboye as an example because he is obviously the most influential pastor in Nigeria today.  I am also deliberately not referring to the Christian Association of Nigeria – CAN because I believe they have been playing some different roles in recent years.

I discussed this subject with an RCCG pastor in the US recently and mentioned that I had mentioned in my book “LIBERATING NIGERIA: A GUIDE TO WINNING ELECTIONS AND REVIVING OUR COUNTRY” that influential pastors like Pastor E.A. Adeboyeshould be more directly involved in Nigeria’s politics for Nigeria to be saved.  The pastor disagreed with me, and when I reminded him that the Baptist, Catholic, and Evangelical groups in America are greatly involved in politics and they even helped President Donald Trump to win the 2016 elections, he said Nigeria was different.  I forgot to remind him that Pastor Adeboye tacitly supported Vice President Osinbajo in 2015 and 2019, and President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, yet the world did not end and the man’s integrity has remained in-tact among his lovers.  But if some Christians don’t want Pastor Adeboye to openly endorse and campaign for candidates, I think we should all agree that the revered man of God should be able to openly endorse and campaign for specific policies that will positively transform Nigeria.  By helping INEC to pass this new law, Pastor Adeboye cannot be said to be supporting any candidate.  He will just be using his God-given massive influence to pass a commonsense bill that will improve our lives.

Talking about the Sultan of Sokoto, unlike the recently deposed Emir of Kano, this man is quite gentle and rarely courts controversies.  But he remains highly respected by many people from core north.  Like Pastor Adeboye, we may also estimate him to have influence over 10 to 40million people across the north.  That is not someone that politicians would want to joke with.  If he personally calls several northern legislators and President Buhari, he will be able to convince them to pass and sign the bill.  In fact, if INEC can broker a collaboration between him and Pastor Adeboye and get the two of them join them in a meeting with principal officers of the Senate and the House of Rep, the bill will be passed in a matter of weeks.

If INEC is very serious about getting this electoral reform passed, they need to try unusual methods to pressure the politicians.  The politicians obviously don’t want to pass this bill, but they can be pressured to do it just the way they reluctantly passed the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.  I am not naïve to think that new electoral laws will fully eliminate rigging and produce perfect elections.  Absolutely not, but it will greatly improve elections in Nigeria.  We just need to keep improving our election laws and process every 2 or 3 years to ensure we get near perfect soon.

The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 was very unpopular with many politicians but they found courage to pass it.  President Goodluck Jonathan deserves some credit for pushing this bill through and this has improved our fight against corruption.  I am using this medium to encourage traditional and new-breed politicians to support INEC and expeditiously pass a comprehensive electoral reform.  The current COVID-19 has clearly shown that Nigeria is the only country we can call our own.  In times of trouble, those other countries you run to will not save you.  It’s this same country that will save you and it is just simply wise that you kindly support a comprehensive electoral reform that will improve Nigeria’s future elections.

Nigeria will surely prosper again!

Onifade is the author of “Liberating Nigeria: A Guide to Winning Elections and Reviving our Country”, and the founder of the Nigeria Politics Online Forum: Liberating Nigeria

deboonifade             @deboonifade

April 14, 2020

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