Church cautions politicians on utterances during campaigns





By Bridget Ikyado

The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has asked politicians and their agents to be civil and respectful in their utterances, while canvassing for votes ahead of the general election.

The Secretary General of CSN, the Very Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi made call, while addressing newsmen at the 2023 Media Parley organised by the Church.

The Secretary General of CSN charged political parties to understand that elections “are not or die affairs”.

Samjumi said rather they should market their party’s agenda and candidate’s manifesto through issue-based campaigns and discipline of language.

“Some political parties campaigns are often characterised by the use of intemperate language, the issuance of threats, character assassination and the spread of misinformation.

“We have also observed that rather than marketing a party’s agenda and a candidate’s manifesto through value-based campaigns and discipline of language.

” Some political parties campaigns are often characterised by the use of intemperate language.

“Also the issuance of threats, character assassination and the spread of misinformation and outright falsehood about their opponents.

“We urge all Nigerians, especially politicians and their agents, to be civil, decent, and respectful in their utterances as they canvass for votes and debate the country’s future.

“The political parties and candidates should understand that elections are not a do-or-die affair and remember that no one is so good enough to lead another without his/her consent.

“The candidates should stick to their signed peace accord and call on their followers to shun violence and thuggery. Only a peaceful election can guarantee the peaceful Nigeria we desire to live in,” the Catholic Church said.

Samjumi told Nigerians that the election time was a very opportune moment that must be properly used.

He said better life awaits Nigerians if they did the right thing in this election.

“To this end, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have released a Pastoral letter on the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria, focusing on the decorum and discipline required for the free, fair and credible conduct of these elections.

“In their document, the Bishops reminded all men and women of goodwill in Nigeria that democracy cannot thrive in any society where the rule of law is frequently breached.

“We, therefore, call on all Nigerians, irrespective of creed or tribe, who are of voting age and have registered, to fully participate in the electoral process.

“The process which includes registering, collecting their Permanent Voter Card (PVC), voting and protecting their votes to ensure they count,” he said.

He said it was only with the power of the ballot that Nigerians could engender the true progress needed in the country.

He urged Nigerians to desist from selling their votes; rather they should vote by their conscience and good judgment, ensuring that only candidates that would improve their lives were voted into power.

“Youths should reject being used as thugs, assassins and electoral violators.

“We call on the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to eliminate the obstacles of high transaction costs associated with collecting the PVCs all over the country.

“To guarantee a level field of participation for all voters, INEC has a huge burden to guarantee that BVAS will work on election day in all the 176,846 polling units across the country,

” As well as the efficient electronic transmission of results from the polling units.

“This will engender transparency and ensure trust in the electoral process.

“We are aware of allegations of manipulating the electoral register in different parts of Nigeria.

“We implore INEC to investigate these allegations diligently, and anyone implicated is brought to account in a timely fashion.

“Furthermore, it has been discovered that multiple registrations happened alongside willful and incorrect entries of voters’ information.

we implore the commission to ensure that the necessary due diligence is observed in the accurate documentation and cleaning up the voters’ register,” he said.

On the Judiciary, Samjumi called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to make an example of judges who abused or will abuse judicial powers in the course of this election cycle.

He disclosed that the first Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria for 2023 would
hold from Feb.11 6o Feb. 17, at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, and it would focus on the theme: Citizens’ Participation in Good Governance in Nigeria.

Earlier, Fr Michael Umoh, the National Director of Social communications thanked all journalists for the the annual media parley.

He advised them to hold up to the ethnics of journalism as that was their own way of contributing to a positive society.

Also Father Patrick Alumuku ,Director of Communication, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja,welcomed the religious correspondents in the FCT to the media parley,urging them to continue the good works in the media professional.

He also  brought greetings and words of encouragement from SIGNIS ( World Catholic Association for Communication) ,urging journalists to keep up the good works.

While commending the CSN for the restructuring of the communication department,he listed events planned by the Abuja Archdiocese for journalist to be kept abreast.