In the face of Nigeria’s upcoming general election, the country’s bishops have encouraged politicians and residents to participate in a just voting process.

The Nigerian bishops' conference met in Sokoto Sept. 6-14, where they discuss the general election which is to be held in February 2019. Their concluding communique called for a respectful electoral process and emphasized its importance to the country’s success.

“We demand that the choice of the electorate, once made, be respected by all. Although elections are not enough to enthrone good governance, they are an important stage in that project,” read the statement.

“Unless we get our electoral process right, elections in Nigeria will only become expensive cosmetic exercises that legitimise corruption and ineptitude.”

The statement challenged citizens to ensure they are equipped with voter cards and to reject illegal voting practices, namely buying and selling votes. The bishops wrote that the voters should be wary of political inducements and not be swayed by the pressures of politicians.

“It is the right of Nigerians to fully participate in the electoral process without intimidation and violence” the bishops said.

The bishops urged politicians to reflect on the purpose of public office and its service to the people. Emphasizing the importance of law, the statement also asked lawmakers to construct just laws, remove unfair regulations, and uphold the equal rights of all citizens.

“We continually encourage the legislators to enact good laws and abrogate bad ones, so as to ensure order, safety, good conduct and safeguard the Common good,” wrote the bishops.

“We also enjoin the judiciary not to allow itself to be used as an instrument of subjugation, oppression, discrimination and injustice…We note that the rule of law connotes equality of all under the law; seeks the protection of fundamental rights of citizens; and guards against abuse of power.”

The Nigerian bishops advocated for the government’s aid in releasing the captives of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

“We advise the Federal Government to ensure the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls and all other persons in captivity.”

The path toward an ideal Nigeria must overcome ethnic and religious boundaries, the bishops said.

“We desire that mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence becomes a model for the adherents of all religions in the country,” the statement read. “This would enable us to collectively build the great Nigeria of our dreams.”

The bishops emphasized the power of prayer and encouraged all members of the Church to participate in continuous prayer for the upcoming election.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the power of prayer during his earthly life. He prayed incessantly, especially, at very decisive and significant moments of his life.”

“Following his footsteps, we direct that our Church at various levels continue to pray, especially as we approach the election year.”