As electioneering campaigns for the September 19, 2020, governorship election in Edo State by political parties intensify, a religious dimension has been added to them.
Religious leaders have thrown caution to the wind by endorsing candidates of the various political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
- Edo govship: INEC not supporting parties, candidates, says INEC chairman
- Edo 2020: Ex-police chief warns against external intervention
Fourteen political parties have registered for the election, but observers are of the view that the election is between the APC and the PDP; the two major parties in the country.
Recently, traditional rulers in the state threw caution to the wind and endorsed the candidates of the APC and the PDP during campaign rallies in their domains
Pundits condemned the development and argued that traditional rulers were supposed to be apolitical and fathers to all candidates.
But few weeks to the election, religious leaders have joined the traditional rulers by endorsing candidates for the election.
Interestingly, over 400 religious leaders were said to have endorsed Governor Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, of the PDP for a second term.
The religious leaders promised to mobilise thousands of their followers to vote for Gov. Obaseki’s PDP.
The religious leaders who are pastors in the Assemblies of God Church, said the governor’s re-election would enable the administration to consolidate on the successes recorded in the first term.
Endorsing the governor and his deputy in Benin, the Edo District Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church, Rev. Dr. Joel Okogele, hinged their endorsement of the governor on his performance and outstanding achievements in the last three years and eight months.
Rev. Okogele said, “God gives power and power belongs to God. We are praying for the governor, his deputy, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly and other government officials for the good work they are doing in the state.
“We are not prophets of doom, we are praying for him to be re-elected. Assemblies of God Church will support him and his administration. We will always go on our knees to pray for the success of the governor in the September 19, 2020, governorship election.”
Shortly after that, a coalition of Christian leaders in the state endorsed the APC candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
The coalition, comprising of church leaders cutting across various Christian denominations in the state, made the endorsement in a communique released at the end of its conference.
They said the endorsement was informed by various meetings in which the church leaders critically examined the interest of God in relation to the election and concluded that Ize-Iyamu’s SIMPLE agenda manifesto was a plan that would place Edo State and its citizens on the path of development.
The coalition encouraged Christians in the state, notwithstanding denomination, to vote massively for Pastor Ize-Iyamu and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu.
The communique made available to journalists was signed by the Christian clerics, including Rev. Dr. Samson Igbinosa, Bishop Abraham Chigbundu, Bishop James Oriebama, Pastor Dele Balogun, Rev. Onyekachi Ogbaji, Rev. Dr. Joseph M. Okeleke, Bishop Iyobosa Atoe, Rev. Collins Okonofua, Apostle Emmanuel Igiehon, Bishop Dr. Osadolor Ochei, Rev. Osagie S., Bishop Osazuwa Eguavoen, Pastor Ikponmwosa Oiluke, and H.E. Rev. Dr. Peter Obadan.
Rev. Jeff Iyonawan said a politically disintegrated or disengaged church was a disservice to the kingdom of God as “you cannot influence a system from the outside.
“Before now, we had been told to stay away from politics and government because it is froth with corruption, whereas, a politically disintegrated or disengaged church is a disservice to the kingdom of God. You cannot influence a system from outside, you need to get involved.”
Meanwhile, some Muslims have also endorsed candidates.