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Don’t Put Your Vote On Autopilot – Otabil


Pastor Mensah Otabil Don’t Put Your Vote On Autopilot – Otabil

Pastor Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), has said the best way of knowing which candidate to vote for in the forthcoming general elections is to look for those who have been preaching the same campaign message repeatedly and constantly throughout.

“This is so because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” he explained.

Dr Otabil, who was delivering a sermon entitled “Your Vote” at Christ Temple, the headquarters of his church at Abossey Okai in Accra yesterday, said the question Ghanaians should pose to themselves before voting should be, “Does this person deserve my sovereignty?”

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“Since 1992 when we started this democratic dispensation, I have always voted for different parties and different candidates. It is an insult to put your vote on autopilot,” he said, receiving a thunderous applause from the thousands who had gathered at his feet during the first of the usual two services on Sundays.

He explained that since supporting a political party was a more serious issue than supporting a football team, people should consider all the life-affecting implications of surrendering their sovereignty in the form of voting before doing so.

According to him, supporting a football team was just a matter of entertainment, but lending support to a political party could determine the food one would eat.

“I am a supporter of the Great Accra Hearts of Oak. Until the bones are rotten, we never say die…I am a supporter because my father was a supporter…However, when it comes to politics, it is not entertainment because my vote for someone can affect my life,” said the man who was sent to the cleaners by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) last week for calling some of the party’s errant members to order.

The NDC had allegedly pieced together various lines from different sermons of the respected cleric to form a continuum of a campaign message giving the impression that he supported the party’s position and had intentionally recorded that campaign message for it.

The scriptural bases for yesterday’s sermon were Proverbs 1:10-15 and Acts 1:21-26. He briefly dwelt on Proverbs 1:14 reading, “Cast in your lot among us,” which is about armed robbers recruiting others to join them through an election.

On Acts 1:21-26, he talked about the election of Matthias, a man who defeated Joseph Barsabas (Justus) in a keenly contested election to replace Judas Iscariot, who had committed suicide following his betrayal of Jesus.

Pastor Otabil said “Matthias won but we never heard of him again, so as a matter of fact, someone can win an election and do nothing…Paul wasn’t [elected] but he did so much.”

“It’s not about wearing jerseys, it’s not about symbols, go beyond party names, go beyond party adverts, go beyond slogans.

“Don’t exchange your votes for temporary benefits like T-shirts, chicken, small money, sheep, etc. You can actually vote for a party that can punish you but because you see it as Hearts of Oak [a team one supports], you will always be there,” said the 53-year-old pastor, whose voice cuts across religious barriers in Ghana.

He said since political parties always came with proposal to do things for the electorate, “if they don’t fulfill the proposal, punch them, don’t let anyone take your vote for granted because the winning proposal will shape the destiny of this country.”

According to him, “a nation becomes what its citizens vote for” and so if Ghanaians did not make intelligent choices, God would not come and rule Ghana for them.

He said the Biblical injunction “touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm” was not applicable to leaders in democratic societies like Ghana since they held elective offices whose sovereignty resided in the electorate.

“The president is the choice of the people. He is not the elect of God. The people elect, and God recognizes it. When we bring this to God, he recognizes it; he may not even approve it. So the fact that God recognizes it doesn’t mean he approves it.

“So if they elect anything, God will recognize it. Many theologians believe the election of Mathias was wrong,” said Dr. Otabil, a man who has shepherded his ever-growing flock for the past 28 years.

Pastor Otabil, a member of the National Peace Council formed under the Kufuor administration, said any time his wife, Joy, asked him which party he was voting for during an election, his usual response was “I don’t know, make yours and I will make mine.” For him, voting “is not what your tribe or anyone else wants but what you want.”

He called on Ghanaians to “vote for your dreams and aspirations and never allow politicians to take you for granted. Don’t let them think they can sing you, dance you or T-shirt you for your vote. Vote for the best interest of the nation.

“Look at the future you want, think about your life and ask which of them will help you. Which idea best fits into your vision?

“Which of the proposals will help us get to a better place? Your vote should not be fixed at any election time. If every Ghanaian thinks that way, our politicians will stop distributing T-shirts and composing songs,” said Dr Otabil, a member of the Institute of Economic Affairs, an Accra-based think tank presidential debate committee.

When he was about leaving the pulpit and retiring to his office after the sermon, he paused briefly and said, “I think this one should be put on radio,” as if to say “and not what the NDC has on radio as me campaigning for them.”

By Sylvanus Nana Kumi

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana



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