By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, at the weekend took a critical look at the nation’s political landscape and concluded that the main challenge before Nigerians is making a choice between two well-known but undesirable candidates in the forthcoming presidential election.
In his speech presented at the weekend in Abuja during a sensitisation programme towards the 2019 general elections titled, ‘The Church in Politics, Towards Election Year-2019,’ Onaiyekan said the new political parties that would have joined forces to produce a credible alternative presidential candidate failed to do so due to selfishness and ego.
He said that at the moment, it would not be in the interest of the church to support one political party against the other; but to identify and stand behind those who can offer good governance for the people.
According to Cardinal Onaiyekan, the church and the clergies must come out clearly to support efforts to sanitise the political climate.
He said, “My dear brothers, our country is deeply in a great dilemma as we move towards the 2019 general elections. It would appear that we are faced with horrible tragedy of a choice between two well-known undesirable candidates.
‘’This is not only because both of them are Muslims but because we have seen both and we have no reason to be enthusiastic that they will do wonders. But this does not mean that we will completely give up interest, if we do, others are busy working. All it takes for evil to thrive is for the righteous to stay quiet and do what they call minding their own business, which means doing nothing.
“It is a pity that whereas there are over 90 political parties, there seems to be no viable alternative to the two mega parties that have failed us. Where is the alternative? It is a pity that they cannot come together to form a viable alternative.
‘’In my opinion, this is mainly because of their selfishness. Everybody wants to be president and wield power. No one wants to step down and join hands with others of like minds. We need to pray that there will be a way forward. We need to seriously tackle the devil of selfishness.’’
He charged Catholic Church faithful who belonged to the APC and PDP to realise the need for a conversion of hearts and a change from selfishness to a sense of solidarity.
The Cardinal, who expressed fears of a looming crisis facing the country in view of forthcoming general elections, advised that one of the ways to avert it is for religious leaders to act responsibly by addressing issues and speaking clearly to political elites no matter which sides they belong.
He added, “We need to change from deceit and lies to truth and honesty. We should encourage our Catholics that it is possible for politicians to be honest.’’
Onaiyekan stated that part of the inter-religious peace and cooperation that the Catholic Church is preaching is for its members to join other men and women of goodwill in pursuing justice, love and peace.
He further enjoined Christians to pray fervently for God to intervene and to ensure peaceful elections in view of various crises threatening to tear the country apart.