By,: Vitalis Ugoh, Calabar
As reactions follows the endorsement of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), the general secretary has described it as “scam” and an imposition.
Speaking over the issue, Apostle Frank Umo, Secretary General of PFN said the chapter has no such right to impose a candidate on members.
He expressed disappointment in the way and manner the whole issue was handled showing clearly that there was “an interest” from somewhere drumming.
According to him, “the issue was never mentioned in the previous minutes and even though was supposed to be presented on the general floor to feel the opinion of other members affiliated to PFN, Cross River State chapter as the body has no right to impose a candidate on members.
It would be recalled that the President of PFN, Cross River State, Dr. Rev. Lawrence Ekwok had addressed journalists in a press conference stating categorically that the body had set up a Strategy Committee which met and voted that all members should cause their church to vote for Prof. Sandy Onor, PDP governorship candidate come March 11, 2023.
Pastor Umo described the scene “as very unfortunate. As the Secretary General of PFN that document was supposed to be presented to the house. I keep the minutes of the body. There was no way in the minutes that was said that we are having a press conference but because of whatever happened we came in and turned it into a press conference”.
Furthermore, “some people were hearing that information for the first time. It is agreed a committee was set up and some Leaders met. In my thinking, we would have presented the document to the general house. That was like submitting of a report but it happened to turn to a press briefing. That is why most of us reacted. Some people in the fellowship heard the name for the first time”.
He wondered how only 12 people voted in Calabar where majority of members reside and operate. As the general secretary I was not included as those that voted because they know if I was invited, I would have voted for Prince Otu. That one is very sure. That is why some leaders reacted.”
Umo said the decision should have been a çollective matter not based on selection. So coming here to impose your candidate on the general house is what caused some people to react.”
“The document was supposed to be presented to the house but unfortunately the President never sought for the opinion of the house rather, he turned it into a press conference. I was very angry. If you were there when the press conference was going on I walked out, he retorted “.
He said “when they were praying for Sandy Onor, that was hypocrisy for me going to pray for him I didn’t join. I believe in integrity. What gets me angry now is that the news everywhere is like that I am in support. Let me say this and let it be published. It griefs my heart that I am the lone voice in the forest. If you check the hierarchy of PFN is like I am the only Efik person there. They know. When it comes to a situation like that, there is little or nothing I can do. Politics is a game of numbers. I am alone voice.”
“There is no where in our minutes that says we want to present Sandy Onor officially. There no where that says in the minutes that there is going to be a press conference. They just invited the man and said we have adopted him and let’s pray for him, he added “
Umo said “I am not against praying for anybody but making a press statement binding on everybody, without first feeling the pulse of the people is my worry. When Sandy Onor was talking, there was commotion in the church and I was praying let something more serious not happen.”
While describing the imposition as bad, he said “in my church I have PDP, APC and members belonging to other political parties. They are devoted members. I told them vote according to your conscience. I don’t want to impose any candidate. Even when I was asked to persuade them. I would not want to do so. 70 per cent of members of my church are APC members. They know my stand because I had briefed them before now.”
He recalled what happened when he attended bi-annual conference in Bayelsa, one Rev Femi Emmanuel, who was in charge of politics said, “it is very bad for a church to pick a candidate and impose it on the members. It can scatter the church. We could have used our body language, but now you are coming to impose a particular candidate on the entire body. It is wrong. The church is supposed to advise members and show them the direction to go. You must apply wisdom in taking decisions such as this else you will end up loosing the members from the other party. You know who to vote for but you have lost hope on your candidate you can join me.”
He also draw attention to what happened to Pastor Chris Okotie during his Presidential ambition, not knowing that most of his members have affiliation with other party and they left in their numbers. PFN is not a church. I can not come and cause confusion in my church because of an individual interest. I may not have the money but I have people. Prince Otu is my brother, ask him I have never received one Kobo from him.”
According to him, “It is very wrong for a church to now forcefully impose on members a candidate. PFN is not a church, it is a fellowship of churches in Cross River State. In PFN, we don’t impose doctrine on any person. My first assignment is to pastor my church. I cannot destroy my church because of PFN.”