Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops Urge Electorate to Examine Credibility, Integrity of Candidates

Some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the National Pastoral Congress in the Archdiocese of Benin City, Credit: CBCN

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) are urging the electorate in the West African nation to look out for the political candidates’ credibility and integrity track record when casting their votes during the general elections scheduled for 25 February 2023.

In their collective message at the end of the third National Pastoral Congress, CBCN members caution against violence ahead of the polls.

Making reference to the Permanent Voters Card (PVC), Catholic Bishops in Nigeria urge the electorate to “use their PVCs to vote for candidates of credibility and integrity who have demonstrated the capacity to pilot the affairs of this nation in a responsible and corrupt-free manner.”

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs “to ensure that the electoral process is just, transparent, open, free, fair and credible,” CBCN members say in their Friday, November 11 message.

“INEC, as a genuine umpire, must be neutral and objective and not favor any parties but apply the laws and principles to all in a fair and equitable manner,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say in their eight-point message.


They caution again “electoral anomalies”, saying they “harm the democratic process as they contribute to depriving citizens the freedom to make informed choices at elections, by making the process less credible.”

“Unfortunately, elected officials who emerge from such a defective electoral process, have the additional moral burden of credibility while in office,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say, emphasizing the need for INEC to be “a genuine umpire”. 

In their Friday, November 11 message, CBCN members also call on the Muhamadu Buhari-led government to “provide the enabling environment for citizens to exercise their franchise devoid of violence, intimidation, vote buying and vote selling.”

The Nigerian government should also “provide adequate security to enable citizens to come out and exercise their franchise,” they emphasize.

The Catholic Bishops urge political candidates to conduct “idea-based” campaigns, which they say should be “devoid of bitterness and unhealthy rivalry.”

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“Political candidates for the election should avail citizens of their electoral manifestoes including strategies for achieving set goals and objectives,” CBCN members say. 

They add, “The practice of promising the electorate lofty objectives to be pursued by political office holders that look good on paper but only to be jettisoned after such candidates win election has become the common experience of many Nigerians.”

In their November 11 collective message, signed by the President of CBCN, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the Catholic Church leaders express hope that “political office holders would support their manifestos with strategies to achieve set targets and actually pursue those goals when elected to office.”

“Holding political office holders accountable is the collective responsibility of all citizens. On this, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should play active roles through advocacy and enlightenment,” they add.

The Catholic Bishops in Africa’s most populous nation further say they have composed a prayer that will be said “in all Dioceses, Parishes and families from now to the time of elections.”


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 the country 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.

In their November 11 collective statement, CBCN members also reflect on the economic situation of the West African country, saying, “Despite several efforts by the Government, the economy is not in good shape. Citizens are not seeing much improvements in their daily lives but a decline in their purchasing power.”

“The costs of staple food like rice, yam and garri have skyrocketed. Power supply is still epileptic,” they say, and add, “This should not be happening in a country that is the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world.

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They would like the government to “devise a strategy that makes fuel and other petroleum products available, accessible and affordable.”

Reflecting on the devastating floods and other environmental disasters in the country, CBCN members call on the government at all levels “to take concrete steps in responding to these challenges.”

“We advocate for a more effective and efficient emergency response strategy, the construction of more dams all over the country while overhauling and expanding the capacity of the dams available at the moment for better water management,” the Catholic Church leaders say.

They add, “We earnestly urge all Nigerians to embrace healthy lifestyle and environmentally friendly attitudes in disposing of wastes arising from human activities.”

They also call on Nigerians to continue putting their trust in the Lord “who never abandons his people.”

“Let us not yield to despair and cynicism which would eventually lead to indifferentism and lethargy that breeds hopelessness and despondency,” CBCN members say in their November 11 collective statement.

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.