Rev. Stephen Gbejero, founder of Christ the Lord Church of God, Warri,  spoke with reporters on the Muslim/Muslim president ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the reaction of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)  for the 2023 general election. Excerpts:

There has been an uproar by CAN over the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of APC. Do you support CAN’s position on this?

No. I am not in support of CAN on this. The Bible said in Psalm 25:14 that the secret of God is with them that fear him. I do not succumb to their position because according to the Holy Bible, you look at the goodness of man and not this religious background. But, quite honestly, at the initial stage, I was not also happy about this Muslim/Muslim ticket, but when I heard testimonies about how ex-Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shetima re-built Churches that were destroyed by enemies of Christianity, Boko Haram, in Maiduguri and environs, I had a change of mind. This is the reason why CAN members from the North are in support of Shettima. When you look at Luke 10:30-37, the story of the Good Samaritan is there for all of us to see. All the men of God in that story did not help the wounded man in that story. At the end of the day, it was a Samaritan, who does not belong to any religion that took care of the wounded man. Another example is the story of Rahab in the Bible,  who was a harlot. If you read Joshua 5:1-30 Rahab saved the life of the two spies that were sent to Jericho by the Israelites. This her good gesture saved her and her family when Jericho was destroyed. So why should a Muslim man who showed compassion and mercy by building all the churches that were burnt down by Boko Haram in Borno State be denied the Vice Presidential slot, just because he is a Muslim?

What we need today is not religion because there are Christians and Muslims in the country today who are more wicked than native doctors. So, there is nothing wrong with the Muslim/Muslim ticket. Today, Nigeria need men who have compassion and mercy. If we have men of mercy and compassion, they will not tolerate this situation where our dollar is losing value everyday. Those that we have in the corridors of power presently don’t care. So, we need men like Shettima who have compassion for the people,  in the corridors of power. I Reverend Gbejero is not against him.

Do you think CAN is right by asking Christians not to vote for Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC?

They can’t do that. What is their business about politics? For example, if a political party decided on a Muslim/Muslim ticket, then, you should leave the party alone. A politician wants to win election, that is the sole aim of a political party, it’s not negotiable and this cannot be compromised by any political party. The man would look around himself and take someone, who, he thinks can make him win election, and I, Reverend Gbejero respected his decision. So if the man has done this, the best thing to do is that you would not vote for him in the day of election, if you, as an individual, is not happy with his choice and decision. There are other people who will vote for him and you cannot tell those who are happy with that choice not to vote for him. We want good people to rule Nigeria. We don’t want weak people to rule Nigeria. We are suffering in Nigeria today because of weakness of our leaders. Do you not know how many months it took us to have ministers? By their fruits you shall know them. Look at Nigeria today. Nobody is safe and if you think you are safe,  you are deceiving yourself. They have even threatened to kidnap our President. This is because the President left them for too long to continue doing what they are doing. The Bible said that because sentence against the evil doers is not judiciously executed, the heart of men continue to do evil. Why do they continue to do evil? It’s because nobody is touching them. Soldier are supposed to be in the forest fighting the Boko Haram insurgents and not walking there on the streets with their uniforms. If they go into the bush, there would be no bandits or terrorists in Nigeria today. Is Sambisa forest in heaven? Why don’t they go there. Nigerian soldiers are well respected all over the world when I was young. They go to other nations and were doing well. They should go to the forest and meet the enemies. Instead they are allowing the enemies to come and kill in their barracks.

Specifically, what is your advice to Christians on the Muslim/Muslim ticket?

It is now you are asking me the right question. To me as an individual and to all who believed in men of compassion, consideration, good men, if I am voting for APC for example, I am voting because of Kashim Shettima, a man who rebuilt churches that were burnt by BoKo Haram. I do not see any Christian that would not vote for that man (Shettima) as far as I am concerned. This is a man of mercy. I have not met him any day, nobody gave me money to come and say what I am saying here today, but the testimonies I heard about Kashim Shetimma are sweet. So, all Christians should vote for that man. Any Christian that does not vote for that man has no conscience, to the best of my knowledge. He is a man with the fear of God. Read what 1st Corinthians 13:1-8 said; it says wealth without charity is nothing. Apostle Paul said whether you speak in tongues from now till tomorrow and you don’t engage in charity works, favour, kindness, compassion, mercy, you are nothing. These are the kind of people that Jesus loves. This is why when  they pray, God does not answer them. Hatred for each other, is the reason we are where, we are today. If a Muslim does well, put him in position and if a Christian does well, let us put him in position.

Are you saying that religion should not play a role in governance?

No, no. Don’t get me wrong. You see, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The people that fear God will not go about embezzling money. They know that one house is enough for them. The Bible said we brought nothing into this would and we will go with nothing. So whether you a Christian or a Muslim, it does not matter, who you are as long as you have the fear of God in you. This is why the Bible said love not the world. Politics is of the world but the church is spiritual. But because we are in the world we are going to participate in politics. Our partaking in politics should be judged according to people who fear God. I have quoted all the scriptures for you. I have told about Joshua 6: 1-25, Luke 10:30-37, the stories are there for you to go and read. If you read these stories you will agree with me. Every Christians who will read what I am saying today, they would change their minds on their previous stand on this Muslim/Muslim ticket matter. The Bible says that we should speak with one voice as Christians. Again 1st Corinthians 13:1-8 says, To enter into the kingdom of God is goodness and charity, and ex-Governor Shettima is a good man, to the best of my knowledge. He is a neighbour to the Christiandom because everything they destroyed that belonged to the Christians, he built them back. I have this information. They are all over the net for your perusal. This is what I have read but if I am wrong, I pray God should forgive me but Shettima is a good man and he is worthy to be the president, how much less, the Vice President. Christians have no choice because the man is good. Nigerians should not disturb that man because he is a good man.

Do you believe that the Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC, if voted into power can tackle the security challenges facing the country?

Shetimma, who is an integral part of that ticket has tasted the war in the North East, there is no doubt about that. He should know what to do. The APC Presidential candidate too is an intelligent man and two of them, I am convinced have the solutions to these hydra-headed problems but the only thing that Tinubu said that provoked me is that he does not bother about the exchange rate because he is not going to pay Nigerians in dollars. That is an absurdity and it’s unacceptable. How can you say you don’t care about the exchange rate of your currency to the dollar? Can the US allow their dollar to be destroyed? Can UK allow their pound to be destroyed? But I pray that Tinubu should withdraw that statement. You must care for your naira. Look at a tuber of yam being sold for three thousand naira? Is that not terrible? What is the cause?

Are saying that that the Muslim/Muslim ticket can ameliorate the suffering of Nigeria?

What I am saying is that the  involvement of Shetimma in that ticket is what will make Tinubu to win the next election. If not look at his own people in the West, according  to Micah 7:6, a man’s enemies are members of his own house hold. These are positions that rarely come your way in a lifetime. But it has come to the Yorubas. This is what they did to Awolowo when he wanted to become president. Now it has come to you again, instead of lifting him up, you are fighting him. The North know that they are not highly educated, but they are wiser than the West. Instead of us in the South to be united and bring our people up, we are always criticising  them. Charity, they say, begins at home. The Yorubas must not play with this. They should all carry Tinubu up first, then, others will join you. But when your own people are against you, then it’s bad.

Do you believe that it’s the turn of the South to produce the president of this country?

The North should not have anything to do with becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023 because when I listened to Bode George’s interview on Channels TV, I understand that this was a gentle man’s agreement for peace to reign. The North have been in the presidency for eight years. They should allow it to come to the South. According to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he said farming for him was not an accident, but becoming a president of this country was an accident. The North pleaded with Obasanjo to come and be the president of this country because he was a fearless soldier, and they told him that after his turn the power will return back to them. And after his tenure it went back to the North and Yar’Adua took over. If he had not died he would have completed his eight years. This was done for the unity of the country. So, the PDP blundered when they picked a northern Presidential candidate. They knew that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to complete his eight years by May 2023, so it has to come to the South. That is how it should be for peace to reign. But unfortunately because of greed they went and pick a candidate from the north. Let’s see how they will make it. We will leave that to God. So it’s a perfect policy that come 2023, the presidency should come from the South.

Look at what is happening about security in this country today. You cannot take away tribalism from the security of the people. No one wants to kill his own people. Almost all the commanders of the armed forces are from the North today. But when the presidency shifts to the South, southerners would occupy those positions and they will handle the security challenges of this nation better. How can we be living in a nation as if the armed forces are dead? They are killing soldiers everyday, this is not acceptable.