The retiring Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has condemned the violence which occurred in the 2019 general elections.
He said the elections were supposed to offer opportunity for Nigerians to choose those who would serve them and not a battlefield for warriors fighting to capture power, conquer territory and people.
Onaiyekan made the remark in a homily at mass of the 1st Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and the Dedication of St Gabriel Chapel Building at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Durumi, Abuja, on Monday.
”Elections are supposed to be an opportunity for us to choose those who will serve us. In many cases, it has been turned into battlefield for warriors fighting to capture power and conquer territory and people.
”No wonder it has become such a do or die and winner takes it all.
“No wonder the process has been militarised, with armed thugs engaging our security forces, who in their turn are rarely able to be as fair and professional as they claim to be. No wonder votes often no longer count.
”When this happens, it is not only the losing contestant who alleges fraud. More significantly, it is the people, the voter, who is denied the once in four years opportunity to choose who will serve us as political leaders.
”If the name of the political game does not change from domination to service, elections will continue to be problematic and the nation will continue to stagnate,” Onaiyekan said.
The cleric, however charged those who won in the elections to always discharge their duties, having in mind that power belongs to God alone and He would demand for accountability on how power is used.
”Whatever the outcome of our elections, fair or foul, whoever holds power at the end of the day, even with the fairest of election victory, must remember that power belongs to God and Him alone.
”He will demand strict accountability on how anyone takes power, and how anyone uses power. God cannot be deceived or challenged,” he said.
Onaiyekan said the voter apathy during the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections was as a protest and a vote of no confidence on the electoral process by the electorate.
He said, ”it would seem that many of the challenges that emerged during the process were as a result of bad laws, which made implementation problematic, and at times offered lacunae for evil minded people to exploit things to their own advantage.
”Even where the rules are clear, they were not always adhered to. Those who claim that these elections were wonderful because it worked in their favour should be reminded that bad election cannot lead to good governance.
”The massive boycott of the polls on March 9 in many places can well be a loud protest and vote of no confidence in the process that had destroyed their trust in the system.
”The government that has been declared re-elected must listen to the sound of murmurs and protest in the winds and take proactive steps to pull the nation together, even while we are waiting for the outcome of the legal challenge already on course in the tribunals.
”It is quite unfortunate that in modern era, free, fair, transparent and peaceful election has become so hard to attain.
”To the extent that the problems are deliberate manipulations, it is time to repent and change ways, for the sake of the survival of our nation, now and for future generations to come.”