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Boys near campaign posters for candidates running for office in the 16 Feb. elections, at the Teachers' Village IDP camp in Maiduguri Boys near campaign posters for candidates running for office in the 16 Feb. elections, at the Teachers' Village IDP camp in Maiduguri 

Bishop of Zaria urges Nigerians to use their vote for the good of the country

The Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Zaria in Nigeria, George Jonathan Dodo, has added his voice to calls for Nigerians to vote according to their conscience and not give in to the temptation of selling their votes in the upcoming 16 February presidential and national assembly elections.

Festus Tarawalie – Vatican City

Zaria is a major city of Kaduna State in northern Nigeria.

During a recent press conference on the forthcoming elections, held at the Pastoral Centre in Zaria, Bishop Dodo warned politicians not to resort to fraud and incitement to violence in an attempt to win the elections. He appealed to voting-age Nigerians to obtain their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for them to “use their vote for the good of Nigeria as a whole," the Bishop. He added, "We must say no to vote buying, and (instead) vote for candidates who are God-fearing and accountable."

The Church does not support individual candidates or political parties

The Bishop of Zaria also pointed out that the Church has the duty to sensitise and educate "the lay faithful on their civic responsibilities” but stressed that the Church does not support any political party or candidate.

Vote for credible candidates

The prelate of Zaria urged his compatriots to vote for a candidate of their choice, a candidate “you think has good qualities and capacity to defend, improve and, or add value to your lives and dignity," he emphasised.

Bishops of Lagos Ecclesiastical Province urge people to vote wisely

A similar call was made last month by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos at the end of their Plenary Assembly. The statement signed by the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins called on citizens to vote with their consciences during the pending polls.

The Bishops urged Nigerians to defend the country’s democracy by electing patriotic and credible leaders who would be sensitive to the plight of ordinary citizens.

“To sell one’s vote is to sell one’s conscience, as good citizens, we must avoid actions that will reduce the credibility of the elections,” the statement said, in part.

Burning issues in the election: Corruption, insecurity and the economy

Although there are other candidates, the two leading contenders are incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari who is recontesting for a second term in office. Buhari, a Moslem, is a 75-year-old former military ruler running against former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, 72, also a Muslim.

The issues which led to Buhari’s victory in 2015 continue to plague Nigeria. They include corruption, insecurity and the economy.

(Additional reporting fom Agenzia Fides)

06 February 2019, 17:00