As the Nigerian presidential election approaches, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference in the country emphasized the importance of electoral honesty and cautioned citizens against political corruption.
The Nigerian general election take place Feb. 16, with voters electing the country’s president and national assembly. President Muhammadu Buhari is up for re-election. The other major nominee is former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
The Nigerian Bishops Conference released a statement on the election Jan. 19 after meeting at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Lagos, Nigeria. The statement was signed by Archbishop Adewale Martins of Lagos, president of the conference.
“Being an election year, 2019 appears delicate; we call on Nigerians to carry out their civic responsibilities with diligence and patriotism,” the statement read, according to Pulse Nigeria.
“Nigerians should see the election as a duty to enthrone good leadership, and no amount of financial inducement should sway us.”
The statement specifically warned against illegal voting practices – such as buying or selling votes.
“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 bishops said.
They also encouraged Nigerians to reject political parties and politicians involved with violence and corruption. They challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to act fairly.
“The hopes of a free and fair election in Nigeria rests on the ability of INEC to be neutral in the discharge of its duties,” they said.