The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has cautioned Nigerians not to vote for persons without capacity, to pilot the country’s affairs.
During the Homily at the Opening Mass of the First Plenary of the CBCN, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, said the Liturgy is apt for people living in our type of context, for it urges us to be aware of the kind of choices we make in life.
He said this plenary coming shortly before the national elections, provides the Catholic faithful a golden opportunity to pray together for peaceful, free and fair elections.
“The Liturgy of this Sunday is apt for people living in our context, for it urges us to be aware of the kind of choices we make in life or even the choices we are about to make because these choices have serious consequences implications for all of us.
“With our votes in the coming weeks, we can choose a reasonable and productive use of power towards unity, security, a good economy or abandon our fate in the hands of people who have neither capacity nor conscience.
“The first reading from Ecclesiasticus says God “has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer…before you are life and death, whichever you choose shall be given you” (Sir. 15:15-17).
“Are we simply, out of sentiments going to make choices that would diminish or ignore our good and the good of others and our country?”
Kaigama said the country desire leaders that know the aches and pains of Nigerians, leaders who can transcend narrow religious and ethnic boundaries to work selflessly for the common good of all Nigerians, to lift Nigerians from the condition of strangulating poverty and frustration to better levels.
He said the theme of our conference, “Citizens’ participation in good governance in Nigeria,” reflects the Bishops’ sensitivity to the great desire of the majority out there to shape the political future of this country; a country where as demonstrated in the murders in Owo, Katsina, and Minna (where Fr. Isaac Achi, was burnt to death in the parish house) and many others, and now the scarcity and high cost of fuel and the newly invented scarcity of the Naira, have heightened a feeling of suspense and uncertainty.
“Our nation prides its motto on “unity and faith, peace and progress,” but we are divided by selfish religious and ethnic interests that gravely undermine our unity.
“Corruption rears its head even in the most unlikely quarters. I recently asked a young man of his age what may affect his chances in a recruitment exercise that demands that he should be under thirty years, and he laughed and said casually, “one can reduce his age nowadays.”
“It is very sad that people are forced to bribe in almost everything, such as to win a contract, get justice, get budgets approved, etc.
“In a country where the youth, the hope of our nation are left unemployed, and where according to OXFAM, three persons in Nigeria have wealth more than 83 million other Nigerians’ resources put together, are we surprised that youths jet out (japa) to foreign countries from their motherland where the cost of governance is so high and corruption so pervasive that a huge chunk of what is due to them is swallowed up?”, he noted.
The clergyman further stated that their work as priests today is made more difficult by the administrators of Nigeria’s resources. Many helpless people find it hard to reach those in political authority who believe that the Church can provide the material help they need.
He said many don’t know that even though the Church has been a voice of the voiceless, offering educational, medical, and other social services for decades, she receives no grants from the Federal Government as is done elsewhere.
“As we pray for free, fair and credible elections, the politicians and all of us must avoid offensive statements uttered just to humiliate, to look down on others and wound their dignity; words of rejection, resentment, hate or revenge,” he added