Catholic Bishops of the Archdiocese of Abuja have tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on ensuring free, fair and credible elections in 2023.
The Catholic Bishops have also pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, credible, and transparent general elections in 2023.
The bishops gave this commitment in a communiqué jointly signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja, and Very Rev. Fr. Sam Tumba, after the 3rd General Assembly of the Archdiocese organised in Abuja.
In the communique issued, the bishops enjoined parishes, families, church societies, and groups to dedicate special moments to praying for a hitch-free election.
“We call on Catholics and indeed all Nigerian citizens to be consciously and actively involved in the electoral processes at all levels. Voter registration, collection of permanent voter cards, casting votes on election days with a firm and clear conscience to elect credible leaders who will bring about the true dividends of democracy,” they said.
The bishops further commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act into law to enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.
“We task the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure political fairness and transparency, to consolidate the trust reposed in them by Nigerians.
“Parishes and Catholic institutions within our Archdiocese are encouraged to arrange and organise voter awareness programmes, seminars, and workshops guided by the Justice, Development, and Peace Commission, to better equip our people for greater political responsibility.
“We remain open and willing to collaborate with relevant government agencies, electoral bodies, and security operatives to ensure peaceful and credible election processes in the coming year,” the communique added.
The bishops cautioned politicians not to see the election as a do-or-die affair, adding that they must also refrain from money politics, and manipulative and divisive practices along ethnic, social, and religious lines to win elections.
“Even though we decry the hard economic situations in the nation, we strongly discourage all Catholics and especially our youths from lending themselves as easy recruits for political thuggery and other criminal activities to enthrone selfish and incompetent aspirants into electoral offices.
“We discourage and condemn any form of vote buying or selling and other electoral malpractices during the elections,” the bishops said.