Outcomes of Nigeria’s General Election Mirror Country’s Rot: African Catholic Theologian

Fr. Stan Chu Ilo. Credit: Courtesy Photo

With the high levels of poverty and corruption in Nigeria, amid increased violence and persecution of Christians, the west African country is always getting the leaders that mirror its rottenness, a leading African Catholic Theologian has said.

Commenting on Nigeria’s February 25 presidential election, Fr. Stan Chu Ilo described the poll as “shambolic”, and having been a waste of time.

“In Nigeria, it is the politics of the stomach, with no value chain. We get the leadership that mirrors our rotten social and political life,” Fr. Stan told ACI Africa on Wednesday, March 1.

He added, “No Christian or right-thinking person should accept Nigeria as presently constituted; it is an unjust and sinful structure and system destroying the best in us. Nigeria has become a necropolis and this election is clear evidence.”

“An evil tree will always produce evil fruits,” the Research Professor in the Department of Catholic Studies at DePaul University in the U.S. said.


“This was a waste of time,” he said of Nigeria’s highly disputed presidential poll in which 70-year-old Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party was declared the winner ahead of People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party's Peter Obi.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu garnered 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million garnered by Abubakar and Obi’s 6.1 million votes.

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have noted that the February 25 elections weren't as hitch-free as the INEC has allegedly promised, and called on the people to remain calm amid the release of the country’s poll results.

In a statement they issued on February 28, the members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said, “The experiences of many voters on Election Day were a far cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised.”

CBCN members lamented that in many places in Nigeria, gains that were expected from the innovations of the country’s electoral laws had been compromised.

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“In addition, the delay in the electronic transmission of the results of the polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal before their announcement at the collation centers has raised suspicion in many minds about the transparency of the entire process,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said, and added, “There is, therefore, palpable tension in the air and agitations not just by some political parties but by a cross-section of the Nigerian population.”

In his March 1 reflection on the Nigerian elections, Fr. Stan notes that ordinary people are being exploited by the political elite in every election.

“What is playing out before our very eyes is an elite contestation. Ordinary people are being manipulated and exploited by these rich men,” the member of the Clergy of the Catholic Diocese of Awgu in Nigeria says.

He adds, “All the contestants in the presidential elections were often found in similar camps. So, I did not really see any major differences other than that Obi/Datti (of the Labor Party) had a cleaner record than the rest and with a better vision and plan for governance.”

Even then, Obi’s camp had “emerged from the same ‘shitstem’ of dirty party politics of PDP and APC,” Fr. Stan asserts, and continues, “These folks are all in the same boat. They will settle their differences later and decide how to share the spoils of war.”


In Nigeria, the Catholic Priest says, everything “including the Christian mission” is up for grabs from the highest bidders.

He finds it regrettable that Christian leaders in Nigeria have not prioritized their mission, but are “busy building mansions, fundraising, and collecting money from corrupt politicians.”

“We have compromised our faith and our Muslim brothers and sisters know that the Nigerian Christian community is weak, confused, lacking any political strategy, and is divided along regional, denominational, and ethnic lines,” Fr. Stan says.

He adds, “Obi ‘lost’ the election because of his ethnicity and religion. Sadly, he cannot reclaim his mandate through a corrupt court system.”

“A serious and sober introspection is needed, while we pray, work, and strategize for the next best step in responding courageously and prophetically to this shameful, painful, and shocking national tragedy unfolding before our very eyes,” he says.

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Fr. Stan finds it pitiful that the Nigerian Christian community no longer has any political influence. 

Without what he describes as “clout”, Muslims will continue to dominate power in Nigeria and advance an Islamic agenda.

Christians, on the other hand, will “continue to make noise about ‘what is going on in Nigeria,’” Fr. Stan says.

“While Christians in Nigeria are praying for Nigeria in distress, Muslims are reaping the benefits of Nigeria in distress,” the Catholic Professor says, and continues, “So, we need to go back to the drawing board.”

He expresses optimism that a government of national unity will emerge from what he describes as a “shambolic show” of Nigerian politics for the country to find a better structure on which “to build on the labor of our past heroes and restore hope to this and future generations.”

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have urged Nigerians as well as politicians who were not declared winners in the election to exercise restraint, saying, “We appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding, and fervent in prayers.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.