Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As Nigerians go to the polls to elect leaders who will lead them in the next four years at the state level this Saturday, Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna, Most Rev. Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso has called on the electorate, especially Christians, to give peace a chance during and after the election.
His appeal comes amid brewing tensions in Kaduna State as well as previous political violence which had claimed lives and property.
Addressing newsmen at his office in Kaduna, the archbishop said to guide against religion and ethnic politics, Nigeria should work towards justice, noting that due to the lack of structure that guarantees a just and equal society, some people fall prey to what they think can give them justice at the expense of the unity of the country.
According to him, “the danger of tension, as we are aware, is that it can escalate, and violence can be the result. We have seen too much violence. Too many people carry the weight of death, destruction and injuries caused by those who do not value their neighbour as they value themselves, their own family and their own homes.
“People have taken it upon themselves to decide that only their own way of thinking and believing is correct, and so have wreaked havoc on anyone who has a different way of thinking or believing,” he said.
He continued that: “Too many innocent lives have been lost in the process. Yes, my fellow Nigerians, we have seen too much violence. One person who dies in an unjustified manner is a loss to all of us and a loss one too many. Violence in any part of the country diminishes all of us. We are better than that, and we need to show the world that we are actually and in reality better than that.
“As a Christian leader, I am again making a special appeal to Christians. We have entered the season of Lent, a season in which we reflect on our own following of Jesus Christ who eschewed violence even to the point of death, and who even in his death, forgave those who brought it about.
“The prophet Isaiah reminds us in this season of Lent that the fasting God asks of us is that we reach out to one another, take care of one another and avoid quarreling and strife, so that our light will break forth and healing will quickly come (cf. Isaiah 58).
“As we prepare to vote, I urge each person, each citizen of this country, particularly, of Kaduna State, to carry out his or her civic duty and vote according to the dictates of conscience and not to be swayed by others, whether tempted by material goods or overwhelmed by smooth words.
“To vote and have a say in who becomes a political leader is a God-given right and responsibility; let us carry it out with full awareness and without fear or favour.”
Archbishop Ndagoso then urged security forces to carry out their duty and responsibility to provide full protection during the voting process, “to ensure that voting is free and fair, but, above all, to protect and defend human lives, to guard against whatever can degrade human dignity in any form whatsoever.”