Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, His Lordship, Most Rev (Dr) Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo
As the country is preparing for the 2023 general election, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, His Lordship, Most Rev (Dr) Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo, has called on the electorate not to sell their votes, warning such would further compound the difficulties in Nigeria.
Odetoyinbo equally charged the electorate to examine the character and capacity of the candidates of the various political parties, and vote for candidates that will lead the country to the dreamland.
The Bishop further stated that Nigeria as a nation cannot afford to miss it again this time if the people truly desired a new Nigeria, hence, the 2023 election must come with a new orientation and attitudinal change.
The cleric stated this in a statement he signed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Canonical Erection of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta.
While urging politicians to be faithful to the ideals of the peace accord signed by candidates and political parties, the Bishop also appealed to party agents and their supporters to shun campaigns of calumny and conduct themselves peacefully as the electioneering campaigns progress.
He stressed that “They must think and act in the interest of our nation, bearing in mind that we are at a critical point in our nation’s history as far as the economy, security, unity, religious freedom etc are concerned. This time is definitely not for business as usual, our nation needs redemption particularly as the latest multi-dimensional poverty index survey reveals that over 63% of persons living in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor. Weaponizing poverty to buy votes should be highly discouraged in whatever shape or form”.
“Let us remember that selling our votes will further compound our problems. We observed with delight, the enthusiasm with which many people approached INEC offices for registrations for their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC), we appeal to everyone that registered to kindly go and collect their cards. With the extension of the deadline for the collection of the cards by INEC, we expect more people to take advantage of this period to approach the officers at their wards for their cards.
“As a Church, we remain non-partisan, however, we have the responsibility of speaking to matters of faith, morals and social justice particularly as they affect the poor and vulnerable. We will therefore continue to advocate for social inclusion in our electoral process that will ensure that no one is disenfranchised.
“The present administration has signed a new Electoral Amendment Bill into Law (2022 Electoral Act) which of course is a laudable effort to keep the Nigerian electoral process up to standard with other democratic countries across the world. It is only hoped that the provisions of this Act are judiciously implemented in the coming elections to enable Nigerians to enjoy the exercise of their political franchise before, during and after the elections.”
Such will really boost the confidence of Nigerians in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections”.
“The introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) to capture the face and fingerprints of electorates and the electronic transmission of election results is indeed a dream come through and we are glad to hear from INEC that the commission is not contemplating the postponement of the elections”.
“Let the electorate examine the character and capacity of the aspirants of the various political parties and vote for candidates that will lead us to our dreamland. We cannot afford to miss it again this time, if we desire a new Nigeria then it must come with a new orientation and attitudinal change”.
“Imagine how kidnapping, bribery, vote-buying, ballot box snatching, corruption, insurgency, banditry, robbery and other related vices will become things of the past if every one of us decides to embrace a change of attitude. We implore Nigerians to reject all forms of vote selling and incentives by politicians who have turned our willpower into merchandise. Selling your vote is as good as selling your right to good governance and dividends of democracy. Let us join hands to save Nigeria by electing credible leaders that will salvage things from getting worse,” Odetoyinbo submitted.