Cecily: This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade. (Act 3)

From The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

Many Christians, I included, received an audio footage about two months ago propagating a ‘warning message’ to The Church. The speaker? Pastor Bosun Emmanuel. I discussed it with family and friends, and my position was clear: as with any other information we are confronted with, whether from the pulpit or from the media, it must be examined critically. First you look at the messenger to see what his likely motivations may be, then you examine the message and sift the facts from the opinions, and thirdly – and this perhaps is the most difficult of all – identify your own prejudices relating to the issue in question. Then make up your mind about what you are hearing and decide objectively where you stand.

Some of what the pastor said in his message can be confirmed. We can check the Nigerian Constitution and investigate the status of Turkey. We can, however, no longer find The Abuja Declaration on Wikipedia because it has been deleted. I wonder why. Wikipedia has this to say:

“This page was deleted from Wikipedia because an administrator believed either that a consensus was reached among editors that it is unsuitable as an encyclopedia entry or that it met one or more conditions for speedy deletion. However, an appeal has been made at Deletion Review to restore the page…”

In my opinion, while Emmanuel’s message may have been a wake-up call to The Church to re-align her priorities and set her house in order – a message which is timely when you consider the spate of scandals emanating from or surrounding The Church at present – it was by no means compelling enough to influence me to change my opinion of Jonathan. Anyone who can claim that the best leader we have ever had is General Sani Abacha, is not speaking with intelligence. No. For me, Emmanuel’s political argument lacked intellectual merit. I also felt it did Jonathan some damage: to be assessed as having performed ‘100%’ by the same person who gave Abacha such a glowing commendation does say something about one’s performance, doesn’t it?

There is, however, no doubt that Emmanuel’s message would have influenced many, because, unfortunately, far too many people loath to think for themselves.   For the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to distance himself and the RCCG from Pastor Emmanuel’s message was therefore a welcome development. Those who respect Adeboye (and what is there not to respect about him) will understand that voting should be a function of conscience and not spiritual blackmail. Those who were not in the picture will now understand CAN’s seemingly manic aversion to the APC and dogged support for Jonathan.

However, those who were incensed because they felt Emmanuel’s message was inflammatory and likely to rouse Christians to arms do not understand the nature of Christian warfare. I have said elsewhere that Christians will not take up arms. Christianity preaches peace: ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12: 31); ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.…’ (Matt 5:38 – 40); ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.’ (1 Cor 10: 3 – 4) Christians call it ‘spiritual warfare’.

Respectfully, I will ask those who were incensed by Emmanuel’s message to consider their own paradigms: is it perhaps possible that if such statements were made by a speaker of another religion it would undoubtedly have been a call to arms?

Whatever the case, come February 2015, Nigeria will decide. The question is who and why.

On the APC platform we will have either the former military dictator, Major General Muhammadu Buhari or former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; and on the PDP platform, we have Goodluck Jonathan. Wow! For Nigerians it is a case of being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Think about it. There is a saying: show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are. Well, Buhari does have quite a murky past. We all remember his refusal to call his followers to order in the wake of the post-election violence in April 2011. And he did after all come to the defence of Boko Haramites when he urged the Federal Government to treat those who were murdering Christians, for no other reason than they were Christians, the same way it had treated those who were kidnapping people for money, irrespective of religion, for no other reason than they were rich. When did he start singing a different tune? When it became clear that Boko Haram didn’t want his friendship or anybody else’s for that matter.

And then we have former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. I’m not quite sure who his major supporters are but he has been endorsed by the National Gay Forum (http://ngex.com/news/public/newsinfo.php?nid=9101).

And not to be left out, the Association of Nigerian Witches and Wizards have thrown their weight solidly behind Goodluck Jonathan (http://pulse.ng/gist/2015-elections-gej-is-our-man-witches-wizards-endorse-goodluck-jonathan-id3147220.html?utm_campaign=2015-elections-gej-is-our-man-witches-wizards-endorse-goodluck-jonathan&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook).

Hmm.

Ms. Ishaya Audu, a lawyer, school administrator, and member of the Premium Times editorial board maintains a Friday column on politics, policy, culture, and the Nigerian life. She writes from Abuja.