Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Church in Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has warned “professional riggers” across all the political parties, that this year’s general elections will not be business as usual.
He said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 20th annual Daily Trust Dialogue.
The 2023 edition of the dialogue has the theme, “Interrogating the 2023 Presidential Agenda.”
The event, ongoing at the NAF Centre in Abuja, is organised by the Media Trust Group (MTG), owners of Daily Trust newspapers and Trust Television.
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Onaiyekan noted that the major issue in the minds right now of most Nigerians, at home and abroad is the forthcoming February and March 2023 general elections.
According to him, the key issue is whether this election will bring about a meaningful change for the better for our Nation.
“A relatively small group of professional political elite have been running the affairs of the Nation, mainly freely between two major political parties with no specific ideological identity but mainly structures for capturing power for rather selfish personal and group interests.
“If things are to change for the better, it cannot be business as usual. There is need for a drastic change of orientation; especially in the concept and practice of political power, characterized by politics as sincere and honest service of the common good, and not as ways and means of capturing power for self interest,” Onaiyekan said.
He said such a change will come from two by no means mutually exclusive directions but that of total change of heart by the professional political elite.
He said, “Will the forthcoming elections bring this about? That is the question to interrogate! Can we hope that the 2023 elections will not be “business as usual”, an attitude that has not been moving the nation any way forward?.
“Truly free, fair and credible elections: that is the only way from which will emerge at all levels of government men and women ready to serve the nation with dedication, sincerity, honesty and integrity.”
Nigerians shunning apathy
Cardinal Onaiyekan also said that Nigeria is witnessing a great change already in the heightened number of citizens now interested in the election.
He noted that INEC is talking of almost 100 million registered voters more than in previous elections.
“This is a clear and positive sign that many Nigerians have abandoned our traditional widespread voter apathy, trusting that involvement in election will no longer be a waste of time for the ordinary citizen.
“Can we expect these millions of new voters to insist on a free and fair election and reject and refuse to settle for any rigged election, peacefully, without violence but with determination?
“Let our usual ‘professional riggers’ across all parties, both within and outside of government, be put on strong notice that this time around, it will not be business as usual. This is not a threat. Rather it is a sincere warning. Let those who have ears listen,” Onaiyekan said.