Until recently, the Omega Power Ministry (OPM) was relatively unknown in social and traditional media circles.
However, two major actions of its founder, Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere has thrown the church into frenzied national limelight, with many calling for a national award to honour the ministry’s heroics.
First, on the 23rd of May, 2022, Apostle Chibuzor announced a gift of 14 housing unit flats and a car to the family of the deceased Deborah, who was killed by marauding Islamic fanatics over claims of blasphemy.
He posted photos of the gifts on his verified Facebook platform and added that the gesture was “fully sponsored through tithes and offerings in OPM church”.
More importantly, the same pastor has jumped into the PVC bandwagon.
In another Facebook post that has further ignited conversations around PVC collection, the cleric urged his followers to get their PVCs , without which they would not be assigned prayers in church.
“From today, you can not collect prayer assignments without showing your PVC”, he said.
“All traders in OPM Divine market will not be permitted to sell in the market if he or she does not have PVC. Remember! Everyone selling in OPM Divine market doesn’t pay for shop.
“Apostle Chibuzor gave all the shops free of charge and 90 percent of more than 120 traders there were given money by Apostle Chibuzor to start the business.”
Pastor Chibuzor also included repentant sex workers, urchins and other former renegades in his warning, urging them to get their PVCs within seven days or face eviction
“All the repentant Armed robbers, kidnappers, cultists etc, undergoing rehabilitation at the OPM rehabilitation centers also have 7 days to get their PVC or have their rehabilitation suspended and you will be evicted out.
“All the repentant sex workers undergoing rehabilitation have 7 days to get their PVCs or you will be evicted from the rehabilitation centers.”
The latest action of the pastor has once again brought into light an increasing trend of religious centers, especially churches, urging their members of go get their PVCs
In a now trending video on Twitter, a Catholic priest, said to be of Jos Diocese, reminded the parishioners of the need to get their PVCs through a series of announcements stating “NO PVC, No MASS”.
The priest justified his actions on the grounds that “Christian faithfuls don’t take elections seriously thereby justifying his actions.”.
A number of these parishioners were seen outside of the church, denied entry for mass.
In a further demonstration of the increasing commitment of the church to encouraging civic participation of its faithful and by extension, generality of Nigerians, churches have also been reported to have donated their buildings to INEC to facilitate the PVC registration and collection processes.
On June 12, 2022, Rev Ntia Ntia of Full Life Christian Center, Uyo donated his church’s headquarters and all its branches and satellite churches as PVC registration centers.
The church added that ‘power, food and logistics would be fully handled by the church’
Apostle Chibuzor Gift Chinyere, the G.O of OPM has also donated all 300 branches of OPM around Nigeria to be used as PVC registration/collection centers free of charge by INEC.
“Anyone who to church service on Sunday, can register his or her Permanent Voters Card, PVC, at the church venue”, he added in a Facebook post.
The fervid and frenzied agitation by churches for PVC registration and collection has been bolstered by the support given by leading Church-based associations, especially the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Founder and Senior Pastor of House on the Rock International Ministries, Paul Adefarasin has added his voice to the current agitation.
His claim to being a former executive of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria suggests a strong support of the association to the PVC mobilization drive.
“The PFN’s National Advisory Council had instructed that every Christian, every human being you can contact must have a PVC and must prepare to vote in 2023
“It is imperative that every believer, online and offline, must get your PVC. I’m a man under authority; I once used to be the deputy president of the PFN (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) and did not want to go further in that structure, in that executive office,” said the cleric.
“We believe we can get 15 million more voters, and that becomes a very significant bloc that must be respected, and it adds to the platform of our voice, harmonised as Christian leaders,” he added.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has adopted Sunday June 26, 2022 as Permanent Voter Cards Sunday across the country.
According to a statement by the Cross River State Chairman of PFN, Lawrence Ekwok, the decision was taken on Thursday after the meeting of the group’s National Executive Committee meeting held in Lagos.
The statement read, “All members of pentecostal churches are advised to attend service on that day with their PVCs.
“The church leadership will also ensure that statistics of those with their voter cards are taken and forwarded to the state chairmen who will in turn forward to the national office.
“Ministers of PFN churches are told to use the PVCs to pray for Nigeria and the forthcoming elections in particular, after which a communion service will take place.”
Ekwok said the national leadership has directed all PFN ministers to mobilise members who are up to voting age for registration.
Also, the leadership of TEKAN, a conglomeration of 15 different churches, also known as Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria has thrown its weight behind the clergymen who take action against their members without the permanent voters’ card (PVC).
The president of TEKAN, Rev Caleb Ahima and the general secretary Rev Moses Ebuga, in a press statement signed and issued in Jos added that eligible Nigerians, especially Christians need to get their PVCs if they truly want to effect change in the country.
In the view of Pastor Emmanuel Iren of Celebration Church international, spirituality does not insulate one from the effects of the actions or inactions of one’s leaders, which then makes voting imperative.
“You have to understand that no matter how religious or prayerful you are, the actions of your leaders will affect you. The Bible says that prayers should be made for kings so we may live a quiet and peaceable life. So, we must see it as something that is for the interest of the church when we get our PVC and cast our votes. It’s good to pray but we must do more than that.”
As the church support for civic participation of voters ahead of the 2023 election continues, it remains to be seen if it will translate to appreciable voter participation in the 2023 polls.
Surely, time will tell.