The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for injecting technological innovations into the conduct of elections, warning that the initiative should be deployed to add credibility, not to rig the 2023 polls.
The Bishops said Nigerians were yearning for credible and reliable leaderships at all levels to redirect the nation to the path of greatness, saying flawless elections would be a good remedial step to combating some of the challenges shaking the nation.
The CBCN stated this in a communiqué issued at the end of its Second Plenary Meeting of the the Sacred Heart Pastoral/Retreat Centre, Orlu, Imo State on September 16, 2022 and signed by its President, Most Rev Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, and Secretary, Most Rev. Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun.
The resolutions, which applauded President Muhammadu Buhari, for assenting to the New Electoral Bill, added that it would be a great disservice to the citizens for the the technological initiatives to be deployed to thwart the 2023 elections after rigorous amendment by the National Assembly and inputs from Nigerians.
“Elections are fast approaching. We commend the National Assembly and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for enacting and signing into law, the Electoral Bill 2022.
“We acknowledge the President’s commitment to ensuring a level playing ground for all candidates in the elections. Furthermore, we commend the INEC for its innovations, especially, in the area of technology, to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“We, however, enjoin the commission to ensure that this technology is transparently deployed, in order to increase the confidence of the people in the electoral process. Politics is a noble vocation.
“While it is not our responsibility as religious leaders to dictate to political parties the choices of their presidential, vice presidential and other candidates, we have the duty to advise the citizenry to bear in mind the implications of these choices while electing the next set of leaders.
“We, therefore, renew our call on all our faithful, laity and clergy alike, to come out en masse to vote for people of unassailable integrity, who have the good character, capacity and track record to lead our nation out of the present socio-political and economic doldrums, irrespective of party, religious and ethnic affiliations,” they said.
Asking Buhari to up the ante against insecurity, the bishops decried the worsening cases of killings and kidnapping in Nigeria, saying it was sad that armed robbery and cybercrimes had also continued unabated.
They contended that, “Attacks on travellers and worshippers in Churches and other places of worship have become too frequent. An instance is the recent mass shooting and bombing attacks on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, in which 41 worshippers were killed and 70 grievously injured.
“Regrettably, the government has not lived up to its duties with regard to security. We observe that even when suspects have been arrested, there was no even diligent prosecution of the culprits of these nefarious acts, thereby leaving the citizenry helpless and despairing.”
The Clergymen also advised the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to shift grounds to resolve the ongoing strike, saying, “We believe that a resort to courts may not be the best and fastest way to solve the problem.”