"We have been hearing speculations going the rounds that CAN had endorsed one presidential candidate or the other. Nothing can be farther from the truth. CAN is apolitical, non-partisan and impartial but we are for God and His people. Our members cut across all political divides and some of them are even contesting for one post or the other including the presidential. So, the idea of endorsing any candidate as favourite does not arise. We have not and will not endorse any candidate for any elective office in the country."
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says it will "never endorse any of the candidates eyeing the Number 1 seat".
This was contained in a statement by Daramola Joseph Bade, the acting CAN General Secretary, issued on Tuesday.
According to the association, the clarification became necessary against speculations that they have endorsed a candidate.
The decision to not endorse any candidate also covers all other elective positions in the forthcoming elections.
The statement read: "As Nigerians prepare for the presidential election, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has disclosed that it has not endorsed and will never endorse any of the candidates eyeing the Number 1 Seat or any elective post but asks its members to vote according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and their consciences.
"We have been hearing speculations going the rounds that CAN had endorsed one presidential candidate or the other. Nothing can be farther from the truth. CAN is apolitical, non-partisan and impartial but we are for God and His people. Our members cut across all political divides and some of them are even contesting for one post or the other including the presidential. So, the idea of endorsing any candidate as favourite does not arise. We have not and will not endorse any candidate for any elective office in the country.
"You will recall that CAN recently met with some leading presidential candidates in Abuja to interact with them and to present our position of the State of the Nation to them and to listen to their manifestoes and programmes. At the end of the meeting, we came out with a position without endorsing any of the candidates."
On its position as it relates to the choice candidate for the presidential seat, CAN said: "Our expectations are that whoever emerges as president and vice-president will address the myriad of critical national concerns. In biblical times, God raised prophets at different times to speak up against national leaders and policies that promoted injustice against the very people such leaders were called to serve. God placed the responsibility of the security and welfare of the citizens on leaders of nations. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
"While CAN notes with encouragement that the candidates interviewed subscribed to its (CAN's) values as expected of the President of the Federal Republic, it is noted too that actions should speak far louder than words if anyone of them is elected. To this end, CAN will watch closely as the character of the presidential candidates unfolds before, during and after the elections in 2019.
"The Christian community is deeply concerned about the misfortunes that have befallen the Nigerian state in recent years. These concerns, which must never be swept under the carpet, make the strongest case for setting a standard for how responsible and well-meaning Nigerian should vote in 2019. CAN urges all Christians to ensure they are in possession of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). Christians should use sound judgment in voting, ensuring that sentiments are eschewed and wisdom is applied in making the decision on the ballot paper. Let us be circumspect and discretional. Above all. Let the Holy Spirit of God direct you in the voting. Think about the greater good of Nigeria, and not primordial sentiments.
"All Christians are enjoined to remain vigilant during the voting exercise and promptly report any suspicious undertaking at voting centres. Christians are however admonished to stay away from any violent act or mob action, whatsoever, no matter the provocation. Decency, lawfulness and godliness should guide us in any act of disagreement.
"The choice of CAN is any candidate who exhibits godliness, trustworthiness, sincerity of purpose, decency, patriotism, true commitment to national service and who has shown care for the Christian community over the years. Christians are called upon to vote credibly and trusted candidates into the various elective positions. We must also be discerning about their policy and the understanding of policy details."
For politicians, CAN urged them to "show maturity, leadership, sportsmanship and eschew electoral malpractice and violence in whatever form."
The statement continued: "They should also call their followers to order and ensure they all operate within the framework of the law. Voter intimidation and vote-buying are anathema to democratic governance and should never be allowed. The law enforcement agencies and other election umpires are enjoined not to be partisan in any form. The peaceful elections and smooth transition of power witnessed in 2015 should be re-enacted in 2019 if new leaders are elected at any level.
"The Church in Nigeria through CAN is committed to praying and working earnestly towards actualizing this goal. We trust God to give Nigeria a leader and deliverer of his choice in February 2019."