The leadership of the Catholic Church in Nigeria has said that it would not engage in any form of partisanship in the politics of the country, including the choice of the next president.
The church said that it was against the delay in signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.
Speaking at the media briefing to flag-off the church’s Communication Week, the Priest in charge of Church and Society, Rev. Fr. Uche Obiechina, said that the church does not dabble into partisan politics.
“Politics is about governance, about well-being of the people, so the church in Nigeria and Catholic Church anywhere in the world, supports politics and encourages its members to play politics.
“Catholic Church does not play partisan politics but members of the church are expected to play party politics, just that the church as an institution ought not to play party politics. Party politics means politics of APC, PDP, PRP and whatever. The church cannot play such politics, because there are members of the church that are in APC, PDP or PRP. Because of this we cannot identify with any political party,” he said.
Obiechina said that what the does is to recognise individual church members and to encourage them participate actively in politics but not to support the parties.
“But church identifies with our sons and daughters in various political parties. And that is why the church will not field a candidate and say vote for PDP or APC. The church does not do that and would not do that,” he said.
He said that what the church was doing is to encourage its members to go and register, participate in party politics, contest and vote in the election, adding that they are to vote for any man or woman of their choice who satisfies their conscience and values in truth, in honesty, in fair play and justice.
Obiechina also said that the church is mobilising Christians and non-Christians to rise up to the reality of politics.
“It is through politics and governance that you can bring about the common good and our country is in dire need because we have had terrible politics and party apathy amongst a good number of our Christians who will say politics is dirty game, I don’t want to be involved in it. If you don’t get involved in it, then you are going to have the dirty men involved in it rule you and you become a victim,” he said.
The priest said that Christians who claim that they are clean should go into politics to help clean up the system.
On the issue of the amended Electoral Act Amendment Bill, he said the Catholic Church is advising the President to ensure the conduct of the election respects known symbols of operation and practices that will guarantee free and fair election.
“The government of the day is dilly-dallying on assenting to this bill. We are against such dilly-dallying. The President should assent to the bill because the bill provides for regulations that will ensure transparency of practice during election and even after elections,” he said.
On his part the National Director of Social Communication of the Catholic Secretariat, Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh, said the church is looking up to the next dispensation with hope.
He advised Nigerians against trading along tribal, ethnic, religious or political affiliations, adding that those were the tools used by typical politicians for so long in exploiting the people.
Umoh said that the theme of this year’s World Communication Day, ‘Listen to the ear of the heart’ implies freely giving our own time to listen to the people which is the first act of charity.
Highlights of the event include, unveiling of gifts to mark the Communication Week.