Ahead of the coming general election, a former National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has called on politicians to use the epochal event to turn the fortunes of Nigeria around for the better.
He stated this on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, warning politicians against using “warlike language” to insist on winning the 2023 elections.
“We cannot continue as we have been going until now. And therefore, we should try our best and beg the Almighty God to make it possible for us to use the opportunity of a new election in 2023 to turn the nation around.
“This is the job of the politician but it is also our job. We should make sure that all those who may seem to want to create problems, who do not want anything to change, and who are thinking of disrupting the elections, we should do our best to restrain their hands and the government should be seen to be proactive in this,” he said.
Onaiyekan, a member of the National Peace Committee said candidates who are insisting on winning the next general elections at all costs are not democratic.
“For politicians, I will beg them. Enough of lies, enough of insistence that we must win because there are politicians who keep saying we must win this election, whatever it takes, we will win,” the cleric said.
“That kind of language is not democratic; it is the language of those who are going to war. They use belligerent language very often in their campaign. That will not carry Nigeria into any better waters. We want a Nigeria that we can be proud of.”
Onaiyekan added that because ethnicity and religion are voluntary choices, they are not Nigeria’s problem.
“Our problem is not with ethnicity and religion. It cannot be with ethnicity because we have no choice in the matter. I was born in Kabba. So, I’m a Yoruba man, not by choice but by accident of birth. And if it is like that for every Nigerian, it should not be an issue.
“As for religion, again, it is a choice that people make freely and therefore, it should not be an issue,” he said.
Onaiyekan blamed those “running the business of religion” for not doing the right thing and for having other motives at heart.
“The other aspect is when politicians because they want to win elections, do all they can to manipulate religion, and they use it to get people to vote for them because they claim to be of a particular religion.
“It is possible to refuse to be manipulated by politicians but when people decide on their own that they want to manipulate their religious sentiments, there is nothing anybody can do about it,” he said.
In order to prevent religious intolerance from spreading among his followers and those of other faiths, the previous CAN President issued a warning that religious differences should not be used as justification for violence.