2023: Sultan, Okoh, urge Nigerians to vote credible candidates, shun ethno-religious sentiments
*Our position on same faith ticket stands, says CAN President
As the 2023 general elections approach, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA), His Eminence, Muhammed Abubakar the III, and the President, of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, have called on Nigerians to eschew ethnoreligious sentiments and vote credible candidates that will revive the economy and ensure fairness and justice in the country.
The two religious leaders who are also Co-Chairmen of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), made the call at the 5th Annual Peace Conference and General Assembly of the IDFP themed, “Religious and Ethnicity: Safeguarding the 2023 General Elections”, yesterday in Abuja.
In his remarks, the CAN President noted that beyond the individual, and religious considerations, Nigerians must ensure that they vote according to their consciences in an honest and prayerful manner, knowing that it is only God that can give the national leaders that are credible.
He said: “We must vote honestly; we must vote prayerfully without allowing our religion or our ethnic sentiments to control us. We must know that God is bigger than all these realities. Only then shall we have a leader that will guide us because the poverty in our country now does not know religion, the sufferings we face, kidnappings and insecurity of all sorts do not know religion.
The CAN President urged Nigerians to avoid acts that can destabilize the system as no progress can be made in an atmosphere of anarchy.
On the zero tolerance of CAN to same faith presidential ticket, Okoh who was represented by the former President, of the Christian Council of Nigeria, (CCN), Reverend Dr Benebo Fubara-Manuel, explained that “CAN’s zero tolerance for same faith ticket was the position it took before the parties fielded their candidates.
“Now that candidates are fielded, if we emphasize this position, it will increase tension.
“Vote the person that God has placed in your heart as the leader of the country. When CAN says ‘no’ to same faith ticket, it wasn’t saying no to our conscience.”
While speaking on the importance of unity ahead of the elections, Sultan Abubakar III said: “We have so much in common in Nigeria that will benefit us as a people if we stick together than playing out religious and ethnic negativities to divide our country.
“I wish to see a situation where every Nigerian counts himself first as a Nigerian before counting his religion or ethnicity. I am not unaware of the negative roles religion and ethnicity could play in a polity but we must galvanize and harness the positive roles they also play in driving national unity.”
Represented by the Director of Administration, NSCIA, Zubairu Usman, the Sultan said his message to Nigerians is that “all should go and get their PVCs, conduct themselves peacefully, go to the polling units, vote with wisdom and according to their conscience and should not be swayed by any other primordial sentiments but according to their conscience.”
Earlier, IDFP’s outgoing co-Chair, Bishop Dr Sunday Onuoha, stated that “as Nigerians head to the polls in few weeks, we stand on the precipice of another milestone in our nation-building efforts.
“So, it is important that we relentlessly propagate our objectives and the ideals of a non-violent election by encouraging tolerance of religion and of social and political principles.”
On his part, the outgoing co-Chair, Alhaji Ishaq Sanni, revealed the IDFP’s financial accounts to include savings worth over N43 million apart from savings in its Dollars and Euro accounts.