Dialogue with Presidential Candidates Not an “endorsement”: Christian Leaders in Nigeria

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Christian leaders in Nigeria have sought to clarify their recent dialogue with Presidential candidates in the general elections scheduled for 25 February 2023 saying the initiative was not a “campaign program or endorsement.”

On November 16, members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reportedly started interactive sessions with the presidential candidates of the various political parties in the West African nation.

The sessions, according to CAN officials, are meant “to ensure that all the presidential candidates understand the concerns of Nigerian Christians and propose policies and programs to address them.”

In a statement issued Thursday, November 24, CAN officials express their collective appreciation to the presidential candidates that honored their invitation to the just-concluded interactive session “with a view to discussing issues that will promote the common good of every citizen of Nigeria.”

“Let no one get it twisted, the engagement with the 2023 presidential candidates was neither a campaign programme nor an endorsement event,” say officials of the Christian entity that includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). 


They add in reference to the presidential candidates who honored the invitation, “Their decision to meet and dialogue with CAN officials and other Christian leaders ahead of the 2023 general elections is remarkable not only because the Church is a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian project, it also provided us a platform to collectively review our understanding of the crisis of development and governance facing our nation and find a lasting solution to them.”

CAN officials further say the stance they have taken on any issue of national concern, especially when it relates to leadership and governance, “is in the interest of inclusivity and respect for our plurality as a nation.”

“CAN salute the candor of all the presidential candidates who participated in the interactive session and charge those among them who have made up their minds to execute the suggested solutions to our national crisis as spelled out in the charter to walk that talk seriously, if elected in 2023,” the representatives of Christian churches in Africa’s most populous nation say. 

They note that there is need for “proper understanding of the issues on the ground and thorough planning to ensure that pronouncements do not end up as mere rhetoric while an impatient public counts the days – for implementation.”

“Having consulted with Nigerians of diverse religious, ethnic and social classes on the problems of the country and the possible solutions to them, CAN articulate these ideas in a document we christened, The Charter for a New Nigeria,” the Christian leaders say in their November 24 statement.

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They add, “The position of CAN on certain national issues based on this document was presented to the presidential candidates.”

CAN officials urge all Nigerians to, “before marching to the polls in 2023, listen dispassionately to all that the presidential candidates have to say and judge from the depths of their consciences who will best lead the nation into a new era of peace, security, prosperity and collective progress.”

“In view of the fact that the apex Christian body understands that Nigeria’s next helmsman will be under serious pressure to make an immediate impact upon assumption of office next year, we make a solemn promise to keep our doors open for further discussion on how best to make these laudable ideas a reality for the public good,” the representatives of Christian leaders in the country say.

They add that they wish “all the presidential candidates safety and security as they campaign vigorously for votes in the next three months.”

On September 28, the 18 candidates vying for Presidency in Nigeria launched their nationwide campaigns ahead of the 25 February 2023 general elections that will see the electorate in Africa’s most populous nation also vote for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.


Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar, and former Vice President and Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, are among candidates vying for the Presidency.

The election of State Governors in the West African nation has been slated for 11 March 2023.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.