April 15, 2024
News Nigeria

PRESS CONFERENCE: Be civil, watch your utterances, Catholic Bishops warn politicians and aides

A PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY THE NATIONAL DIRECTORATE OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS OF THE CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT OF NIGERIA TUESDAY, 31 JANUARY 2023, AT THE CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT IN ABUJA.

 

Greetings

Dear distinguished editors, journalists and producers from various radio, television, newspaper, online and blog organisations, we bring you warm greetings from the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and all the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria.

We thank you immensely for the cooperation you have accorded the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in the past and present. We salute you for your immense role as the watchdog of society, even in the face of glaring threats to life. We look forward to more synergy with you towards building a better country for the present and future generations.

 

Purpose

We are here to inform this esteemed gathering of our perspectives on some national issues, the conviction of our stand, to condemn the unabating satanic killing of religious and opinion leaders and innocent Nigerians, discuss the forthcoming elections and to inform you of the first plenary assembly of the  Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in 2023.

State of the Nation

In spite of several interventions and advice to those in power from our Bishops, both as a body (the CBCN) and as individuals, our beloved country Nigeria continues to plunge deeper into the abyss. Every day, we keep witnessing pervasive killings of innocent citizens in their homes, churches, mosques, streets, trains, roads, and events. Kidnappings, invasion of villages and towns, wanton looting and corruption, ransom taking, raping and territorial conquest are sadly the order of the day. We are saddened that Nigerians in their homeland are now at the mercy of non-state actors, who not only terrorise but also kill the citizens from the East to the West, the South and Northern regions. Unfortunately, the people are yet to find hope in the present administration’s ability or desire to tackle the many problems that have bedeviled our dear country.

We wish to assure our people that despite the pervading gloom, the light of Christ can never be overcome. Like the people of God in the Scriptures, Nigerians should be assured that, though they live in darkness now, they will see a great light from God (cf. Isaiah 9:2). And as the psalmist says “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). We are very hopeful, that, by God’s grace, peace, joy and happiness will be restored to this nation soon. But we all must desire and work towards it.

The 2023 General Elections

We join numerous well-meaning Nigerians in expressing hope that the 2023 elections will usher in a government that will improve the living conditions and security of the citizens. This is a very opportune moment that must be properly used; better life awaits Nigerians if we do the right thing in this election.

To this end, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria have released a Pastoral letter on the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria, focusing on the decorum and discipline required for the free, fair and credible conduct of these elections. In their document, the Bishops remind all men and women of goodwill in Nigeria that Democracy cannot thrive in any society where the rule of law is frequently breached. We, therefore, call on all Nigerians, irrespective of creed or tribe, who are of voting age and have registered, to fully participate in the electoral process, which includes registering, collecting their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), voting and protecting their votes to ensure they count. It is only with the power of the ballot that we can engender the true progress we need in this country. We urge Nigerians to desist from selling their votes; rather, they should vote in accordance with their conscience and good judgement, ensuring that only candidates that will improve their lives are voted into power. Youths should reject being used as thugs, assassins and electoral violators.

We call on the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to eliminate the obstacles of high transaction costs associated with collecting the PVCs all over the country. In order to guarantee a level field of participation for all voters, INEC has a huge burden to guarantee that BVAS will work on election day in all the 176,846 polling units across the country, as well as the efficient electronic transmission of results from the polling units. This will engender transparency and ensure trust in the electoral process.

We are aware of credible allegations of manipulating the electoral register in different parts of Nigeria. We implore INEC to investigate these allegations diligently and to ensure that to the extent that they are well-founded, anyone implicated is brought to account in a timely fashion.

Furthermore, it has been discovered that multiple registrations happened alongside willful and incorrect entries of voters’ information; we implore the Commission to ensure that the necessary due diligence is observed in the accurate documentation and cleaning up the voters’ register.  

Moreover, we have also observed that rather than marketing a party’s agenda and a candidate’s manifesto through value-based campaigns and discipline of language, some political parties’ campaigns are often characterised by the use of intemperate language, the issuance of threats, character assassination and the spread of misinformation and outright falsehood about their opponents. We urge all Nigerians, especially politicians and their agents, to be civil, decent, and respectful in their utterances as they canvass for votes and debate the country’s future.

The political parties and candidates should understand that elections are not a do-or-die affair and remember that no one is so good enough to lead another without his/her consent. The candidates should stick to their signed peace accord and call on their followers to shun violence and thuggery. Only a peaceful election can guarantee the peaceful Nigeria we desire to live in.

Also of grave importance to the electoral process is the judiciary’s role. Sadly, we have many well-advertised cases of abuse of judicial power and office as judicial corruption has risen as politicians seek to importune judges with unprintable sums of money to overturn the will of the people in fair elections. We call on judges, lawyers, the legal profession and, in particular, the leadership of the NBA, to rise to be counted in the 2023 elections. The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) should make an example of those judges who have abused or will abuse judicial powers in the course of this election cycle. The fate of the elections may depend on this.

Catholic Bishops Conference

The first Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria for the year 2023 will hold from 11 – 17 February 2023 at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja. This Conference will focus on the theme: Citizens’ Participation in Good Governance in Nigeria. As usual, we count on your support to bring the resolutions of the Conference to the front burner.

Conclusion

Nigeria is our country and the only one we can truly call our own and live freely in. Nigeria is created great and abundantly blessed in all ramifications. We all need to iwork together to make it good consciously. If all good people rise and contribute acts and words of goodness to the national equation, the light will surely dispel the darkness because evil is the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin diminishes any people (Proverbs 14:34). The journey to salvage our country lies within us. Now is the time for every good citizen to rise to be counted. Indeed, now is the time to save Nigeria. NIGERIA CAN BE GREAT AGAIN. NIGERIA WILL BE GREAT AGAIN. WE CAN. LET US DO IT!

We thank you, the press, for being worthy partners in the quest for a better Nigeria.

Thank you, and may God bless you all. Amen

God bless Nigeria!

 

 

Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi                                                                            Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Mike Nsikak Umoh

Secretary-General                                                                                                                  National Director of Social Communications

Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja FCT                                                                     Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja FCT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *