Protesters display placards to protest the outcome of the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria Protesters display placards to protest the outcome of the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria  (AFP or licensors)

Nigerian bishops urge calm and prayer in wake of disputed election

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria are calling for calm and urging citizens to keep to the law and turn to prayer as anger rises following the announcement Bola Tinubu has won the presidential election. The bishops have also questioned the transparency of the voting process.

By Linda Bordoni

Bola Tinubu was the candidate for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and will succeed Muhammadu Buhari whose presidency marked the longest stretch of democracy since independence. But many Nigerians had expressed hope for a change of governance in Africa's largest democracy that is plagued by insecurity, unemployment, growing poverty and rampant corruption.

Anger is rising following the declaration of Tinubu's victory and opposition leaders claim the polls were rigged and are calling for a fresh vote. Their calls and concerns are echoed by many, including Caritas Nigeria which deployed over 6,000 observers in all 36 Nigerian states.

Catholic Bishops' Conference

As official results from the disputed polls confirmed Tinubu’s victory after a process full of hitches, delays, unrest and technical difficulties, including the National Electoral Commission’s failure to ensure transparency thanks to new technological procedures, the country’s Catholic bishops also raised their voice to express disappointment with INEC over its conduct.

“For a very long time now,” said Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, President of the Bishops’ Conference, “we have prayed for peaceful, transparent and credible elections as well as an accurate transmission of the results.”

In a statement, he recalled the many promises made during the run-up to the weekend election in which over 87 million people were eligible to vote. He said he regretted that “the experiences of many voters on the election day were a far-cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised.”

“In many places, the human element is alleged to have compromised the gains that were expected from the innovations of the new electoral Act.”

Palpable tension

There is, therefore, palpable tension in the air and agitations not just by some political parties but by a cross-section of the Nigerian population,” the archbishop said.

In his statement, he urged the Commission to take adequate steps to address the issues of concern in order to diffuse the tension and in the interest of the common good.

INEC, he said, has a duty to do the right thing now “to ensure that the sanctity of the collective will of the electorate is not violated,” so as to restore the confidence of the citizenry in our government and its institutions.

“As the saying goes it is no use running when one is on the wrong road.”


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01 March 2023, 16:15