In Easter Message, Nigerian Archbishop Cautions against Despondency after “botched” Polls

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has cautioned Nigerians against sinking into “despondency and depression” as a result of the “2023 botched general elections”. 

In his Easter 2023 Message shared with ACI Africa Thursday, April 6, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji looks back at the events following the February 25 polls that he says resulted in “aborted dreams and shattered hopes”, and goes on to highlight other challenges that the people of God in the West African nation are facing, including economic hardship, youth unemployment, and “the ever-growing phenomenon of extremism and terrorism”.

“Notwithstanding the aborted dreams and shattered hopes resulting from the 2023 botched general elections in our nation, we should never surrender to despondency and depression,” Archbishop Ugorji says. 

“The blind greed of a few for power at all cost must not prevail over the positive aspiration of the generality of Nigerians, who look forward to the dawning of a new nation, where the dignity and rights of each individual are recognised and respected; where all Nigerians are accorded equal opportunities in all spheres of life; where ethno-religious cleavages are overcome; and attitudes of discrimination and intolerance rejected,” the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese further says in reference to the general elections in Africa’s most populous nation. 

On March 1, Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared the ruling party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of the presidential election, BBC News reported.


INEC leadership announced that Mr. Tinubu garnered 8.8 million votes against 6.9 million garnered by Mr. Abubakar and Mr. Obi’s 6.1 million votes.

Nigeria’s main opposition parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) disputed the results, accusing the INEC of not uploading the presidential results from the polling stations. A petition against the Presidential election was later filed with the Court of Appeal in Nigeria.

In his Easter Message, the President of CBCN says, “Easter brings a healing message of hope to the disillusioned and broken-hearted. Now that the aggrieved contestants in the last general elections are seeking redress in the court of law, the fate of the country is in the hands of the judiciary.”

Archbishop Ugorji calls on the Nigerian Judiciary to “endeavor to live above board and serve as a healing balm to a hurting nation.”

He appeals to the Judges at the Court of Appeal “to rescue our nation from the tipping point by looking beyond narrow pecuniary, religious or ethnocentric interests and to administer justice with courage, honesty and impartiality.”

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"He is risen, alleluia! This is the joyous proclamation of Easter, which strengthens our faith in Christ, the Prince of life, who died and now reigns immortal,” Archbishop Ugorji says.

The event of the resurrection, he continues, “is a message that powerfully proclaims that life is stronger than death; that good is stronger than evil; that love is stronger than hate; and that truth is stronger than falsehood.”

“The risen Christ signals the path of hope along which our sinking nation can rise again,” the Nigerian Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 1990 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese says.

The Catholic Archbishop who has been at the helm of Owerri Archdiocese since his installation in June last year also reflects on some of the challenges the people of God in the West African nation face.

“Our Easter joy should not be eclipsed as economic hardship continues to sweep across the nation, with soaring inflation, cash crunch and rising cost of fuel,” he says, and adds, “The appalling economic situation is worsened by the spreading poverty and high level of youth unemployment.”


This state of affairs, Archbishop Ugorji continues, “impels us to condemn with renewed vigor the greed, graft and corruption of the political elite that have continued to undermine our national economy.”

There is need for the Nigerian government “to urgently address the economic situation of the country to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses,” the Local Ordinary of Owerri who also serves as Apostolic Administrator of Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese since the 2018 resignation of Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke who was later created Cardinal, says.

In reflecting on the challenges in Africa’s most populous nation, Archbishop Ugorji calls attention to the “ever-growing phenomenon of extremism and terrorism”.

“We cannot ignore the ever-growing phenomenon of extremism and terrorism, which despises life, recklessly sheds blood, brings anguish and uncertainty to innocent persons and produces thousands of internally displaced people,” he decries.

The Catholic Archbishop further says, “While we applaud the government for taking bold steps to overcome terrorism and insurgency with military might, we must be aware that terrorism will continue to thrive in our nation as long as its underlying causes remain unaddressed and the structures of inequality are not dismantled.”

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Archbishop Ugorji continues, “The needs of the jobless, hungry and homeless cannot be ignored without dreadful consequences for our nation.”

“We look forward to having civil leaders, who do not perceive governance as an opportunity for self- aggrandizement but as a call to humble service for the common good, that is to say our people yearn for leaders who can provide basic social amenities and security of life and property, respect the sanctity of human rights and the rule of law, and stamp out corruption, ethnocentrism and religious bigotry in our public life,” he says.

The 71-year-old Catholic Church leader adds, “May our hope not be in vain.”

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.