Nigerian Catholic Bishop Cautions Politicians against Exploiting People’s “weaknesses”

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah oversees the signing of the peace accord by candidates at the Abuja International Conference Center. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria has cautioned politicians against luring the electorate ahead of the country’s February 2023 general elections, saying political candidates “must not exploit weaknesses of our people”.

On Thursday, September 29, presidential candidates of all 18 recognized political parties reportedly signed a peace accord committing themselves to a peaceful campaign towards the 25 February 2023 general elections. All the candidates and national chairmen of their parties signed the accord organized by the National Peace Committee (NPC).

Speaking during the September 29 event that was held at Abuja International Conference Center, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah expressed his awareness of the practice of voter bribery saying the vice undermines democracy in the West African country.

“We are aware of the capacity of this process (vote buying) to undermine the entire project of democracy,” Bishop Kukah said, adding, “Yes, Nigerians are poor, yes, Nigerians are suffering but none of that is a substitute.”

The Nigerian Bishop who was appointed as a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in January 2021 said further, “Politicians must not exploit the weaknesses of our people in a way and manner that has made vote buying part of our culture.”


He expressed the hope that voter fraud penalties spelt out in the Electoral Act 2022 “will be implemented to the letter by relevant actors.”

Bishop Kukah went on to encourage the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, and the Nigeria Police Force, “to make sure that those who compromise the electoral process face the wrath of the law.”

On September 28, the 18 candidates vying for Presidency in Nigeria launched their nationwide campaigns ahead of the 25 February 2023 general elections that will see the electorate in Africa’s most populous nation also vote for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar, and former Vice President and Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, are among candidates vying for the Presidency.

The election of State governors in the West African nation has been slated for 11 March 2023.

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On September 27, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Nigeria’s Oyo State cautioned the electorate against voting on the basis of their tribal affiliations.

“As campaigns begin, do not vote for tribal cause; do not vote for empty promises, and do not get carried away by manifestos and jamborees,” CAN officials in Oyo State said, and added, “Do not vote for ethnicity; do not sell your vote. The politicians you die for today will keep their children safe while you lose your own life.”

The officials of the Christian entity who include representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) further said, “As campaigns begin, ensure peace in all dealings and conversations.’

They called on Christian leaders to take the responsibility of shielding and protecting the rights and freedoms of the followers they represent.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.