Caritas Nigeria calls for collective efforts towards credible polls

by Bridget Ikyado
As Nigeria counts down to the 2023 general elections, the charity organ of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Caritas Nigeria has emphasised the criticality of the elections, urging Nigerians to actively participate.
The Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria and Director, Church and Society at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Very Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina, made the call in his welcome address at the Caritas Nigeria National Pre-election Dialogue, held at the CSN Resource Centre.
The dialogue was organised as part of Caritas Nigeria’s contribution to the overall efforts at ensuring free, fair and credible elections and in essence, good governance.
Caritas Nigeria also used the forum to present findings from her pre-election study, aimed at providing insight and guidance in preparation for the elections, another of her contribution to the success of the 2023 elections.
Fr. Obodoechina emphasised that Caritas Nigeria is leaving nothing to chance but very deliberate in enlightenment and mobilisation of the citizenry.
He thus “encouraged all to appreciate the seriousness of the election and be part and parcel,” stressing that “it is not a time to sit on the fence.
 Every reasonable adult in the country must take part, bear the sacrifice and engage in value-based conversations.”
In a welcome remark, the Director of Social Communications, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, representing the Secretary General of CSN, corroborated Fr. Obodoechina’s position
He noted that “the election is a no-value-neutral project, because every action we choose to make or not make has value and will impact on the nation.”
He congratulated Fr. Obodoechina and his team for the programme and encouraged that it “should not end as an academic exercise but the scientific knowledge should be stepped down to practical use so that those who have been weaponised by poverty and hunger will understand the criticality of the elections and act accordingly.”
The keynote Speaker, Prof. Emeka Aniagolu, in a review of the findings of the pre-election study, challenged Nigerian citizens to do better by voting the right candidates
He however  noted that voting the right candidate will not automatically “pull Nigeria out of the hole we have put ourselves into but will put the country on the right trajectory to begin to get out of the hole.” Quoting Lao Tzu, he concluded that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” which is for Nigerians to vote right.
The ActionAid Country Director, Mrs. Ene Obi,  added her voice to the discussion, calling on all Nigerians to own the election project by contributing to its success. She explained that INEC or the President cannot do it alone and as such “the citizens should organise themselves,  make contributions and demand accountability” from those entrusted.
Other speakers at the programme were the Director, Centre for Citizens with Disability, Mr. David Aniele, Director, JDPC Abuja Archdiocese and other stakeholders who all joined their voices to advocate for collective efforts from all.
“If there is a time for Nigerians to demonstrate that they are part of the country, it is now.”