The Catholic Bishops caution against malpractices, saying, “We strongly condemn as unlawful and sinful all forms of vote selling and buying and advise all politicians and voters to refrain from doing so.”
They made reference to Vatican II document on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, and encouraged the Laity in Nigeria to engage in “political activity” and contribute to the establishment of “moral order” in Africa’s most populous nation.
“We urge our Catholic lay faithful, especially those with talents for the difficult yet noble art of politics or whose talents in this matter can be developed, to prepare themselves for it,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said in their statement shared with ACI Africa September 15, adding that engaging in politics requires sacrificing “convenience and material interests”.
Addressing themselves to members of the Clergy in the message titled, “The Threshold of a New Dawn in Nigeria”, CBCN members urged Priests to guide the Laity interested in active politics to promote the “dignity of human person.”
“While working to promote political activities and good governance that guarantee the dignity of the human person, justice and equity in society, Priests have the duty to guide the lay faithful,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said.
They cautioned members of the Clergy against active politics, saying, “Without prejudice to their rights to exercise their franchise, Priests are not to use the pulpit to promote any particular political party or its candidates.”
CBCN members urged the Nigerian electorate to “to come out en masse” and vote for people with “unassailable integrity” to lead the country out of the current situation. They said, “It is through the right political choices that our current situation can be ameliorated.”
“While it is not our responsibility as religious leaders to dictate to political parties the choices of their presidential, vice presidential and other candidates, we have the duty to advise the citizenry to bear in mind the implications of these choices while electing the next set of leaders,” they said.
The Catholic Bishops added, “We, therefore, renew our call on all our faithful, laity and clergy alike, to come out en masse to vote for people of unassailable integrity, who have the good character, capacity and track record to lead our nation out of the present socio-political and economic doldrums, irrespective of party, religious and ethnic affiliations.”
In their message read out on September 15, CBCN members also called for civic education for “growth in political consciousness” among the citizens of Africa's most populous nation.