An appeal has gone to Nigerians, to “see the forthcoming general elections as most critical, as the outcome will determine the way forward for the nation”.
The appeal was part of an eight-point communique issued yesterday, by the Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, after their two-day meeting at the Villa Assumpta, Owerri.
The clerics said: “The elections in this year will be most critical, as the outcome will determine the way forward for the nation, in the face of inexhaustible array of challenges, complex security crises, a collapsing economy, and a lot more.
“We have, in the past, bemoaned the failings of the democratic experiment in our nation. We call on all citizens of this nation, to rise to our civic responsibility, and ensure credible 2023 general elections.
“This election will make or mar our country. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We pray for the dawn of a new Nigeria, where our children can look forward with hope.
“Nigerians should rise and vote, and vote rightly, so that we elect visionary, honest and compassionate leaders, with hearts that beat for the welfare of one and all, in our nation.”
The Catholic Bishops were also of the view that the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the expansion of voter access to polling units, for the first time in 25 years, were good reasons for optimism.
They charged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to “discharge its duty with utmost sense of responsibility, transparency, eschew corrupt practices and avoid all forms of monetary inducement from the politicians and their agents”.
Meanwhile, Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has raised the alarm that not up to 17 percent of registered voters in the state, have collected their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs.
Uzodimma made his feelings known, while addressing Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, at a reception organized by the Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, for the visiting bishops.
His words: “I sincerely plead with our church leaders, royal fathers and all patriotic Imo citizens, to appeal to registered voters to go and collect their PVCs. The PVC is the people’s power and without it, the people will be powerless during the election.
“As at the last check, we still have huge packs of uncollected PVCs in the custody of INEC. It will surprise you all that not up to 17 percent of the PVCs have been collected by the eligible registered voters in the state. This development should shock all concerned Imo citizens.”