By Bridget Ikyado
Abuja,Sept.22,2022 (NAN) Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of the Catholic Archdioceseof Abuja has advised Nigerians against seeing elections as a matter of ethnic and religious alliances.
Kaigama said such perceptions could be disturbing in his address at the 3rd Abuja Archdiocesan General Assembly (AAGA) with the theme: ‘Witness in politics: The role of the Catholic faithful.’
Kaigama said that the 2023 general elections should be about transparency, accountability and responsibility.
The clergyman expressed sadness that the politics of bitterness, unhealthy personality clashes, manipulation among other issues had been deeply entrenched among the citizenry.
He said that the inability of the citizens to realise meaningful change in the nation’s socio-political and economic environment was as a result: “of the culture of corruption and very poor governance, coupled with untamed political, religious and ethnic sentiments.
“To reverse this unfortunate trend, there is the need for a complete change in the ways we play politics.
“If the primary purpose of politicking is to win elections, then the justifiable end is to govern well.
“The political parties should, therefore, be forthcoming on how best they are to address the issues bedeviling our polity such as: insecurity, deteriorating public health and education, the current inflationary trends resulting in high living conditions.
” We have lived for so long under politics which we had come to understand as: manipulation, exclusion, greed and graft.
“When it comes to exercising voting power, our lay faithful have the responsibility to vote wisely and seek to be voted into public service; serving in a Christ-like manner when elected,” he said.
He said no one should complain about the government if they did not vote, while he reminded them that they would be doing their Christian faith a great disservice by abstaining from voting during elections.
He added, “More than ever before, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the passage of the electoral bill, is promising to ensure transparency, probity and fairness. We hope they will keep to their word”.
Kaigama encouraged churches to always speak truth to power adding that: “A Church that will not speak truth to power is not a Church that can credibly proclaim Jesus Christ.,who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6).
Also, the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, said that Nigeria was currently passing through challenging times that require all hands to be on deck in order to salvage it.
He said that it was a collective responsibility of all to negate such perception by the citizens through how they conduct themselves in their daily lives.
Mrs Sheila Tosan-Akabe, the wife of the Deputy Governor of Nassarawa state, called on women to actively participate in politics by voting and be voted for during elections.
She said on their part in churches and state,they had provided necessary welfare that would encourage women to participate actively in politics.
She encouraged women not to be intimated by anyone ,advising them also not to be lured into buying or selling of their votes.
She advised them to enlighten their wards and children also on the dangers of electoral violence.
She expressed happiness at the number of women who would be aspiring for elective positions in the 2023 elections.
Also, Mr Celestine Omehia, the Chairman of the General Assembly, urged Christians to see the face of Christ in each other.
“What we are, therefore, required to do as Catholics is the will of Christ in us by serving the will of those who elected us into public office and also love each other irrespective of our political persuasions,” he said.
He said that the theme for the 3rd General Assembly: “Witness in Politics: The Role of the Catholic Faithful” was very apt.
He said that this was so considering that the country’s next general election was just five months away and preparations by political parties were ongoing.
He advised Catholic lay faithful to take a clue from the advice of Pope Francis where he said, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself or herself to those being governed.”