Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has appealed to the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) in the state to support the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the March 18 governorship election, Sir Siminilaye Fubara.
The governor made the plea at a meeting with the state leadership of CAN in Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
Wike urged the leadership and members of CAN not to allow politicians, desperate for votes, to set them against each other.
The governor said the 18th March 2023 election is a state-level exercise and all the candidates contesting for the various positions, particularly for the governorship, are all Christians.
It is therefore not healthy, governors Wike asserted for any candidate to be allowed to approach any constituent family of CAN to demand endorsement, an action if granted, could create a division within the association and undermine the State.
“Nobody can say that through this election, I called him or her and said, look, this is where you will go to. Nobody can also say that you came to me, to see what the church has decided to do.”
He challenged any leader of the various constituents of CAN to come out and tell the world that the Rivers State governor had approached him to mobilize for votes during the last election.
“Now we are going for local election, not national election. Why will people begin to bring CAN into it, which we have never done before. CAN Rivers State has always been one. You, going to take one of the families to say endorse this person, you’re killing CAN because this State is a Christian State.”
Governor Wike expressed his dislike for politicians who remember the church only when they want to wipe up religious sentiment to favour their course, but will never return thereafter to support the church to grow.
“What I don’t like is politicians using the church because they want to benefit at that time. After that time, what happens? Do you listen to the church again? You don’t listen to the church. If, as politicians who are Christians, will listen to the church, the church will not be where and how it is today. The church would have grown stronger.”
Governor Wike reiterated that he was bold to declare that Rivers is a Christian State, and owes nobody any apology even if it was part of what was used against him during the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential primary.
Beyond that, the governor said his administration has also maintained a robust relationship with the church with fee waiver when any church applies to use facilities of government, including the building of the Ecumenical Centre in Port Harcourt.
“I do things because I am one person who has so much benefitted from the mercy of God. So, when people say that I am a betrayal of the Christian faith, I laugh.
“Let nobody in the Christian circle say, me I am a betrayal of the Christian faith because they will make me expose so many people and politicians.”
Wike also explained that it was a holistic decision of the integrity group that they would support southern presidency, and they did just that in their various States during the 25th February 2023 presidential election.
“I am one of the apostles of the southern presidency. I stood for it and I fought for it. I did not waver. I never betrayed the interest of the south, I never and I will not do it till tomorrow.
“Anybody who knows me when I want to fight, I will fight without hiding. Let nobody bring me to that in saying that I didn’t support the Christian presidency, that person must be wicked to tag me that because I will not and I have never failed the church and Christendom.”
Wike urged CAN to be wary of such politicians who want to divide them using either the Catholic against the others but should be united in their resolve to protect the interest of Rivers State.
The governor insisted that every member of CAN must work for a united Christian family so that it would become difficult for any person marketing his candidate to create division among them.
Wike, however, told them to believe him when he says that he is in a better position, as a politician, to tell them who among the governorship candidates can do well as the governor of the State because he knows each one of them very well.
He said Sir Siminialayi Fubara, who is the governorship candidate of the PDP, stands taller among all governorship candidates because he is a technocrat who has risen through the rung of civil service to become the Accountant General of the State.
In addition, Sir. Siminialayi Fubara, governor Wike emphasized, is humble and more disposed to continue with the ongoing development of the State.
The governor explained that Rivers State has not grown on a steady development pace because it has not gotten its transition right and without hitches.
He urged CAN to pray for a smooth transition that will usher the State into a phase of continuous development, and also support the candidacy of Sir Siminialayi Fubara of their own free volition because they want the best for the State.
“So, the church, this is your own. The way I handed myself over to the church, that is how I’m handing him (Fubara) over to you. Do the same thing you did for me and you will not regret it. Spread the gospel everywhere. Saturday has come. Let our people participate by voting for a quiet and smooth transition in Rivers State.”
Responding, Rivers State Chairman of The Christian Association of Nigeria, His Grace, Most Reverend Dokiboeriya Kaladokubo thanked Governor Wike for his kind words.
He acknowledged the transformation that the State has witnessed in his administration with many development projects sited beyond the State capital.
Most Reverend Kaladokubo said the next election is days away, and the church and its leadership can only but continue to pray for the absence of any form of fighting or gunshot, so that the exercise is conducted peacefully.
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