President Muhammadu Buhari has charged church leaders to use their positions to promote peace and unity in the country.
He made the call at the opening of the 23 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria on Saturday in Calabar.
Represented by Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Eyo-Ita, Mr Buhari said the church, as the conscience of the nation, should promote ideals of unity and pray for the nation as we move towards election year.
He said that the gathering was historic in view of the significant role the church played in the existence of the country.
“The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria remains a pivotal agent of change in our nation and beyond.
“Your role in education, health and other social spheres of our society remains commendable and as a Government, we are committed to promoting the ideals and societal norms that unite us as a people.
“I commend the church for her investment in the hospitality industry and education through the proposed establishment of Presby Guest House and her efforts to complete Hope Waddell University aimed at producing new generation of leaders.
“We also commend the church for her contribution in the agricultural subsector, particularly the Presby Farm Ltd as well as the Yakurr Farms.
“The church is encouraged to take advantage of the various opportunities provided by the government to empower Nigerians to venture into agriculture to guarantee food security,” he said.
The president used the occasion to call on all Nigerians to support government programmes and projects and join in the fight against corruption for a better Nigeria.
Similarly, Nzie Eke, Prelate/Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, said the agenda of the 23 General Assembly included a review of the church’s mission work in Nigeria and beyond.
Mr Eke said that the church would also solicit for funds for the completion of the final phase of the N1 billion Hope Waddell University project and the construction of Presbyterian Guest House at an estimated cost of N950 million.
He reminded Christians to participate in politics and be the change they wanted to see by ensuring that they got their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
“We shall pray for our leaders, especially our President Muhammadu Buhari, for God to guide him to conduct peaceful elections in 2019.
“Let me quickly remind all those who do not have PVC to do so immediately after the assembly; the PVC is your power.
“If you do not have it, you are denying yourself a fundamental right to choose your leaders and, I encourage Presbyterians to get actively involved in politics so that we can influence the society.”
The Prelate warned Christians of the dangers of being too narrow-minded and intolerant, saying such split the body of Christ.
On his part, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, said that security challenges were not peculiar to Nigeria, but a continental problem spreading to the country.
Mr Enang said that the church should not be made to think that it was a religious problem because similar crisis was happening in Zamfara that had a population predominantly Muslims.
He said that Nigeria as a nation, was reconsidering the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) free movement agreement which allowed for easy influx of foreigners into the country.