The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has lamented the attempts made by desperate politicians to militarise and rig the just concluded Governorship and State Assembly poll.
Onaiyekan spoke, yesterday, at the opening of 2019’s first plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) ongoing in Abuja.
He said the clamour for the revision or outright rewrite of the electoral laws is not misplaced, if the nation must make any progress.
According to him, the voter apathy that dogged Saturday’s elections in some parts of the country was a form of citizens’ protest and vote of no confidence in Nigeria’s electoral process.
Against that backdrop, Onaiyekan urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the sound of murmurs and protest in the winds, and take proactive steps to pull the nation together.
He said: “Those who claim that these elections were wonderful because it worked in their favour should be reminded that bad elections cannot lead to good governance.
“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 to capture power and conquer territory and people.
“No wonder it has become such a do-or-die affair and winner takes all. No wonder the process has become militarised, with armed thugs engaging security forces, who in 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 allege fraud. More significantly, it is the people, the voter, who is denied the 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.”
To the extent that the irregularities that marred the general election were deliberate manipulations by politicians, Onaiyekan called them to repentance and restitution for the sake of the survival of the nation.
“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 alone. He will demand strict accountability on how anyone uses power,” he added.
The marathon plenary of the Bishops is expected to end on Friday this week with a communiqué released on the state of the nation.