One month into the official commence0-ment of political campaigns ahead of the 2023 general elections in the country (according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s, timetable of activities, Campaigns started on Wednesday, September 28, 2022) well-meaning Nigerians across all spectrums of the society have not ceased to express concern about the general disposition of partisan political actors in their engagements with the electorate.
Among the things that have continued to be a source of worry to the generality of Nigerians are the near absence of issues-based campaigns, the lack of civility and sensitivity in the language adopted in discourse and the unsavoury tone employed in distilling the issues.
The preachment of the individuals and groups that continue to send a note of caution to the political class insist that political contestations must not be engaged in desperation and undue regard for the unity, stability and general wellbeing of the country and the citizenry.
The import of the various and varied interventions of those calling for restraint is that the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians and the indesolubility of the corporate existence of the nation need not be sacrificed on the altar of individual, partisan or sectional quest for political relevance.
Speaking at the Eighth Biennial National Convention of the Catholic Social Forum of Nigeria in Abuja, pen ultimate weekend, the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference Nigeria Committee on Laity Affairs, Bishop John Ayah, called for civility in the prosecution of the campaigns.
Bishop Ayah, who is also the Catholic Bishop of Uyo Diocese, encouraged Nigerians, including Christians, to actively participate in the electoral process but cautioned against unguarded utterances and violence during the campaigns.
The cleric who expressed optimism about the success of the 2023 general elections said Nigerians were, more than ever, determined to exercise their franchise but hoped that they would not be scared and discouraged by the politicians through the introduction of violence and intemperate language.
“I don’t see voter apathy this season, for what I see, compared to the previous years, I anticipate a lot more people. I pray that people don’t go violent to discourage those that what to vote. I trust there’s going to be civility and people won’t distort the process”, he said.
Only last week, the Chief Executive Officer of Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu, cautioned members and supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to focus on issues-based campaigns rather than criticising and castigating candidates of other parties.
Addressing a group of APC members under the aegis of National Integrity Movement (ANIM) who conferred a matronship status on her in Abuja, the NEPAD boss said it was important to be guided by the vow that President Muhammadu Buhari made to the 2022 UN General Assembly to ensure that the 2023 general elections are credible and free of violence.
“Our party should lead by example by conducting a violence-free sensitisation, campaigns and elections, just as the president had vowed to the UN General Assembly, where he promised the world to conduct free, fair and credible elections. So, as members of the APC and Nigerians, we should help him to realise that mandate.
“We must refrain from bringing down any character of persons of our country. It is not the best way to go because at the end of the day, when the elections are over, what you have said during the electioneering campaigns would be used to judge your country, not our party.
“When a leader emerges, he emerges for the country, not for the party. We must be able to work harmoniously so that we can (be able to) deliver the next leader for our country.
Let’s join hands and work for the Africa and Nigeria we all desire to have. So, let us go out and make sure we discuss issues-based campaign”, she said.
In an exclusive interview with The Tide in his office in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Rev Minaibi Dagogo-Jack, appealed to politicians to approach the campaigns, bearing in mind the prevailing social and economic conditions in the country.
He said it was important for politicians to be decent and civil in their utterances and general comportment throughout the campaigns so as not to ignite unnecessary confrontations that could precipitate undesirable consequences.
The state PFN boss urged the candidates and their supporters to address themselves strictly to burning national issues and refuse to engage in tendencies that could destabilise the electoral process and as well affect the nation’s quest for a sustainable democratic culture that guarantees peace and prosperity in the country through free, fair and credible election of leaders by the electorate.
“As a religious leader, I urge politicians to do their campaigning decently. They should remember that our women are suffering; they should remember that our youths are not employed; they should remember that our universities have produced heaps of graduates that are asking questions; they should remember that the youths are no more lazy as they called them (they’re now asking questions, and reasonable ones, today); they should remember that things are happening that the Youths do not like; children are suffering and crying, school fees are not paid; the hospitals are not working and those who are sick can’t go to the hospital and get adequate treatment.
“I am speaking to their conscience that things are getting worse by the day. We, the church, we are concerned. They should speak about their character, who they are, how they fear God, their honesty and their truthfulness.
“They should speak about their competence, the quality of their performance in previous positions they held. They should remember their capacity you may have character, you may be competent, but do you have the capacity?
“They should only talk to people about their capacity; talk to people about your competence; talk to the electorate about your character- your ability for efficient transformation; your ability to communicate your vision to diverse people; they should talk about their policies”, he said.
He emphasised the need for politicians to refrain from provocative behaviours and utterances as the harsh social and economic realities in the country have made Nigerians, especially the youths, increasingly impatient and easily provoked to aggression.
He admonished, “Talk to people about your character, your competence, your capacity and policies and stop abusing others, stop discussing others. We are in very precarious times and people get agitated and angry with the slightest provocation”.
The cleric said even though the church has been praying for peace, stability and general wellbeing of the country and its citizens, it is indispensable for leaders and aspiring leaders to be deliberate in putting up exemplary conduct, comments and comportment for the country to experience the desired socio-economic and political transformation.
He added that God Himself will deal harshly with politicians who have purposed to be treacherous with Nigerians, warning that dire consequences await them.
“Politicians tell lies a lot. God will punish those who go there for selfish aim. God will shock them. So, my advice to them is decency in their campaign process, orderliness in their campaign process and also in governance.
“The churches have been praying but one man’s sin can affect the nation. Let them fear God. Some people make promises they know they cannot keep. They should remember that Nigeria is today the poverty capital of the world, so we cannot continue to do the same thing the same way and expect a change”, he admonished.
On the part of the electorate, Rev Dagogo-Jack, who was a one time Governorship Candidate in Rivers State, charged Nigerians not to decide their choice leaders on the basis of party affiliations but rather vote according to their convictions about persons that they think have the right credentials to tackle the country’s challenges.
To this end, he advised the electorate to keenly listen to the candidates and resist the temptation to be swayed by monetary and other inducements.
“Let me tell the people, nobody should vote political party; don’t do your vote based on political party; do your own vote based on the person, the character of the person, the competence of the person, the capacity of the person, the policies that are being told you. And don’t forget to consider whether the person has the wherewithal to carry out these policies that are being campaigned about.
“I do believe that, with what God is doing in the country at present, what is going to happen in 2023 will be quite different from what has been happening.
The people they campaign to should listen to them carefully, they should not consider the money and the cheap Ankara wrappers they give to them. We need transformation, we need revival and with our own change in attitude, revival is assured”, he said.
The Christian cleric reiterated that the PFN had not shifted grounds on its earlier stand against same faith ticket, arguing that the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not further the cause of justice, fairness and inclusion in a plural society like Nigeria that is still grappling with the teething challenges of nation-building.
He said, “We sounded our opinion and we stand by it; we’re not shying away from that resolution. We still say ‘No’ to Muslim/Muslim ticket, ‘No’ to Christian/Christian ticket, ‘No’ to same faith ticket.”
The PFN chairman disclosed that “In Rivers State, we are going to point our hand at one of the (governorship) candidates who we feel has the character; who we feel has the competence; who we feel has the capacity; who we feel has the policies that are good enough to cause sustainable development in Rivers State.
“We are looking at a candidate that has the fear of God in him, that will not disrespect the church, that will not treat the church leaders and the church with great disdain. PFN will point our hand at that particular person”
He said that the Christian community in the state was poised to be actively involved in the process of deciding who becomes the next governor as well as National Assembly and state legislators in Rivers State, adding that his organisation was prepared to mobilise its members to achieve set goals.
While disclosing that the various candidates of the political parties that are contesting the 2023 general elections in Rivers State had already been scheduled to interface and interact with the PFN from Tuesday, November 8 to Thursday, November 10, 2022, he averred that the political sensitisation efforts of his body of believers had achieved appreciable success, with most members now in possession of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
“Don’t forget that after the elections we shall be interested in good governance. It’s not going to be business as usual. We’re going to talk to government when they’re doing wrong and we’re going to encourage government when they’re doing right”, he said, pointing out that the church would no longer restrict itself to only praying for the political leaders but would make its voice heard as well, going forward.
Indeed, invaluable as character, competence, capacity and sound policies of individual candidates may be for the electorate to decide where to apply their ink stained thumbs, the conscientious election of a truly popular candidate through a free, fair, transparent and credible process will not be of significant value until the people assumed the added responsibility of making elected functionaries of government deliver on their campaign promises.
By: Opaka Dokubo
2023: May 29 Handover Sacrosant – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday reiterated his commitment to handing over leadership to an elected president on May 29 next year, saying that his term in office will end on that day in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a brief remark tothe Minister of National Education, Pre-School and Sports of the Kingdom of Morocco Mr. Shakib Ben Musa, who visited the State House as Special Envoy of King Mohammed the VI, President Buhari said his term of office will end with the inauguration of a new president in May next year.
He, however, said that he will study the message sent and respond accordingly, giving assurances at the same time that he will continue to cherish and strengthen the very warm and cordial relations between the two countries.
Accompanied by the resident representative of the Kingdom in Nigeria, Mr. Moha Ou Ali Tagma, the Special Envoy reiterated to the President the friendship and solidarity of the King, the government and people of Morocco with Nigeria.
NNPP Blasts Tinubu Over Absence At Town Hall Meeting
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, has taken a swipe at the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for refusing to honour invitations on debate, saying that it was an indication that he has nothing to tell Nigerians or he does not have the power to rule the country.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, the NNPP National Chairman, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali said that the APC Presidential candidate should endeavor to appear for Nigerians to hear him and his blueprint for the country, asking him to come for debates and say something, even if it may not be clear.
According to him, the media should interrogate all the presidential candidates as we inch closer to the 2023 Presidential election, adding, that “the NNPP would continue to engage patriotic individuals and organisations that share our vision and mission to rescue Nigeria and save democracy in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, our Party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party will not in any way be coerced or blackmailed to fulfill somebody’s inordinate ambition to rule Nigeria by all means.”
Recall that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; the NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and that of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi had featured on Sunday night at a town hall meeting organised by Arise TV, Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers, Premium Times, Daily Trust, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, and Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, where Tinubu was conspicuously absent again.
According to him, the NNPP as the Third Force has finally arrived against the backdrop that Nigerians were tired of excuses and the culture of blame games by the APC, adding, “like what happened yesterday, the 4th of Dec 2022. Apart from Arise TV, the CDD, highly respectable organisation and virtually all the media organisation in the country, so this is an open forum. It’s very clear. So why can’t you go and talk, say something, even if it’s not clear, people will get something out of you but you preferred to jet out of the country.
“So this is a different issue. This is not the first time, not the second time, it has been like that. You can assume that most of them do not have the power to rule the country. Two, they are also ashamed of what they have done. You can’t call yourself the leader of a party for eight years and now you want to rule the country, you cannot come and tell Nigerians what you have done during the eight years. You are the leader of the party because, you have, for the first time, in the history of the country, a President is different, and the leader of the party different.
“Now the person who is invited is the person who is the leader of the party, come forward, you say no, he is out of the country. So people are waiting for him, if he doesn’t come for debate, he will come for election.”
Police Arrest Four Over Attempt On Senator’s Life
The Niger State Police Command, on Monday, said that additional facts had emerged following the arrest of four suspects in Minna, the State capital, over the failed assassination attempt on the Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, explained that one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large, trailed the Senator to his home in Minna.
Recall that Senator Sani Musa on Saturday narrowly escaped assassination by unknown gunmen in his Minna residence, and four suspects were immediately arrested in connection with the incident.
It was gathered that the incident happened on Saturday night, just as the suspected assailants were said to have trailed the Senator, who is seeking his second term into the Senate in 2023, from Abuja to his residence along the popular Old Alheri Clinic Road, Tunga area in Minna.
Unknown to the assailants, Senator Musa had returned to Abuja in the afternoon before they invaded the house in the night.
DSP Wasiu Abiodun said, “Reference to the Commands’ earlier press release on the unfortunate invasion of Senator Sani Musa residence, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District.
“Niger State Police Command wishes to state that additional facts emerged in the course of investigation, as one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large targeted the Senator to his home in Minna.
“The hoodlums suspected that he could be at home, having attended a coronation ceremony at Kagara on the same date and to possibly kidnap him.
“Fortunately, the gang met his absence, broke into the house and ransacked the residence in the pretence of the purported search execution in the residence.
“However, investigation is in progress, as effort is on top gear to apprehend other members of the gang and further development will be made public.”
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