ADVANCING THE PATH TO UNITY & PEACE (A press release by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja
We cannot help but once again strongly condemn the atrocious attack and murder of our faithful in Owo inside the Church during Holy Mass on Sunday, 5 June 2022, as not just an attack on humanity, but also a terrible slap on the sovereignty of Nigeria and an indictment on the Federal Government. May God grant eternal rest to the departed, comfort those who mourn and heal the wounded. Amen.
The process for the 2023 General election in Nigeria has been initiated, and there are some things to be happy about: the passing of the Electoral Act 2022, which allows the use of electronic devices for accreditation and in the capturing and transmission of results; the prompt release of election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the renewed confidence in the electoral process by the electorate, as demonstrated in the massive last minute turn out for voter registration amongst others.
It is, however, disheartening to observe that the conduct of most of our politicians seems to be going from bad to worse as we witnessed a show of shame and heightened ugly culture of money politics during the recently held primaries.
While all this is going on, we must not lose sight of the fact that the unity of this country has, over the years, been maintained by a delicate balancing of the religious and the regional.
Even in the despotic military era, most juntas ensured a balance of the religious architecture in their regimes. For instance, we had Murtala-Obasanjo, Obasanjo-Yar’adua, Babangida-Ebitu Ukiwe, Abacha Diya. This also applied to the heads of the various military formations and the different government parastatals like Customs, Immigrations, Finance, etc.
Significantly, it was only during the General Muhammadu Buhari era as military Head of State (31 Dec. 1983-27 Aug. 1985) that we had a Muslim-Muslim military dictatorship.
Similarly, only once did we have a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 1993 democratic elections, which featured Abiola-Kingibe ticket and turned out to be one of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections. But that government never took off!
Fast forward to 2022, 30 years later, some individuals have tried to suggest the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidential election in a country like Nigeria that has unfortunately been badly polarized.
Ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good. But one cannot really say so of our country at the moment.
With the present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.
Going by the Kaduna experience, we can perceive the havoc the Muslim-Muslim ticket has brought upon the predominantly Christian people of Southern Kaduna.
We, therefore, strongly advise those political parties toying with divisive agenda to have a rethink by presenting a more inclusive ticket, while calling on all people of goodwill to resist this budding injustice that may be hatched against a cross section of the people.
In pursuit of peace, it is imperative to remind everyone that all Nigerians, irrespective of creed or region, are equal; as such, there must be sensitivity in the spread of political positions without compromising competence.
Finally, we call on all Nigerians, individually and collectively, to do everything in their power to seek and work for unity and justice, so that we may attain that peace we all desire. There is no alternative to peace!
Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi
Very Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh
Director, Social Communications