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Catholic Church doubts credibility of upcoming polls

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Anthony Cardinal Okogie

• Anglican primate insists election must be free, fair
• INEC allays clerics’ fears

Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has expressed doubt over the credibility of the upcoming general elections.

Archbishop emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, who raised the alarm yesterday, lamented that the laws regulating elections in the country do not serve the interest of the electorate.

He spoke at the 2019 public lecture on good governance tagged: “The power of the electorate in a democracy: Nigeria as a case study,” held at St Leo’s Catholic Church.

According to him, the constitution situated the country as a place where politics is the most lucrative business, with political office holders controlling the country’s wealth and utilising it to the detriment of the people.

The cleric said: “What we have now is a constitution that has kept us in a situation aptly described in pidgin English as poor man dey suffer, monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. There is the need for a better constitution, and the need to work for that constitution, for political arrangement that will release the potential in every Nigerian. These are urgently needed in our Nigeria of today to succeed.”

On his part, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, lamented what he described as social-political malaise of the country, saying it was time for the electorate to master the art of electing worthy people, noting that Nigerian democracy has been fraught with all manners of socio-political contradictions, which have left the country on the brink of collapse.

The guest speaker, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, faulted both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing them as one and necessary evils that the electorate is faced it.

Similarly, Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, has called for collaborative efforts to ensure the credibility of the elections.

He made the call in Warri, Delta State, when the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, and the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa addressed a standing committee of the Church.

The primate, who made the call in Warri, Delta State, urged: “every election result should reflect the will of the electorate, otherwise, it becomes a mockery of the whole exercise.

Meanwhile, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu has assured the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) of its resolve to conduct free, fair and credible elections, as part of a nationwide consultation with stakeholders on the commission’s readiness for the general elections.

Yakubu, who denied reports of bias, said INEC was determined to improve on the gains recorded in the 2015 general elections, just as he affirmed that only the votes’ cast by citizens would determine the eventual winners at the polls.

In a statement by CBCN President, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze and secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Umoh, the bishops stressed that the primary responsibility for peaceful, free, fair and credible elections lies with the government.


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