Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Revd Ignatius Kaigama, has urged Nigerians to elect leaders on merit over mediocrity, so that their patriotism, competency, and their God-fearing attitudes would positively impact on Nigeria’s development.
He made the plea at the 3rd Abuja Archdiocesan General Assembly (AAGA), organised by The Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, with the theme, ‘Witness in Politics: The Role of the Catholic Faithful’ in Abuja.
Kaigama also said a church that will not speak truth to power is not a church that can credibly proclaim Jesus Christ and salvation for the people.
According to him, what is very crucial presently is the search for good leaders who can promote what is right, honourable and fair, and what advances the common good and leaders who are passionate about advancing the growth, progress, and stability of Nigeria.
“The question has to be asked, about when Nigerians will begin to see themselves as fellow citizens, united in vision and destiny despite their ethnic or religious differences. The fact of the matter is that there will never be a time in Nigeria when there are only Muslims or only Christians.”
“We must learn to accept this fact, live with it and move on. Unless we begin to understand and accept one another more sincerely, we will never be a country at peace,” he said.
Kaigama lamented that a typical Nigerian prefers a bad leader from his or her tribe to a good leader from another tribe, saying that this is the genesis of Nigeria’s problem.
He said, “Little wonder, political positions in Nigeria have become fiercely contested. It is perhaps only in Nigeria that when a person is given a political appointment, he behaves hysterically as if he has won a big lottery.”
He also lamented that politics of bitterness, unhealthy personality clashes, and manipulation have become deeply entrenched in Nigeria and that the inability to realize a meaningful change in Nigeria’s socio-political and economic environment is a result of the culture of corruption and very poor governance.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Most Rev. Daniel Okoh, said the organisation had inaugurated a committee on ‘Political Strategy and Action’ comprising of eminent personalities that would help the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria achieve their aim.
According to him, this is expressing the determination and commitment of CAN to part-take and properly position its members on the right path to fully participate in the political activities for 2023 general elections.
He said the responsibility of the committee is to mobilize and encourage Christians to participate in politics and other activities that would legitimately produce quality leaders in Nigeria and beyond.
He also said the committee recommended that all churches must have a Directorate of Politics and Governance which will provide training on Christian values for the right character, capacity and competence to participate in politics and take up public offices.
“The Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has shown leadership in this area by establishing the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) since 1994 with clear thematic areas that include Human Rights Protection, Human Capital Development, Democracy Monitoring and Civic Education.
“Now that a good percentage of member-churches has demonstrated sufficient interest in setting up directorates, arms or departments like JDPC, I pledge that CAN will provide the platform for such collaboration through its Directorate of National Issues and Social Welfare, of which the Catholic Church is a member,” Okoh said.
He lamented the increasing drop in perception of Nigerians in comity of nations, and challenged Nigerians to participate in the forthcoming general elections so they can use the opportunity to vote for persons with competence and capacity to pull Nigeria out of the dungeon of underdevelopment and backwardness.
“Those of us who engage in partisan politics must remember that we need to provide leadership in showing these right values so that we can influence good governance that will bring about a peaceful and prosperous nation,” the CAN President said.