“Invest in interfaith dialogue” for Value-Based Elections: Catholic Bishop in Nigeria

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

The Bishop of Oyo Diocese in Nigeria is calling on the government of the West African nation to “invest in interfaith dialogue” to ward off “unnecessary suspicion and animosity” during the electioneering period ahead of the February 2023 general elections.

In his address at the Ecumenism/Interreligious Commission Annual Symposium of Oyo Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo advocated for value-based elections, which he said can be achieved through interfaith dialogue.

“We call on the government and other authorities as well to invest in interfaith dialogue as this can help diffuse unnecessary suspicion and animosity among our peoples and help them focus on values towards the next elections,” Bishop Badejo is quoted as saying at the December 3 event that was held at St Paul’s Pastoral Centre in his Episcopal See. 

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese underscored the value of interfaith dialogue, identifying its ability to signal “doubts and fears” among Nigerians during the electioneering period.

“A period of reflecting together like this at any level is useful to help us exchange ideas, hoping that such ideas can spread our resolve to coexist peacefully,” Bishop Badejo said during the event that had faith leaders and security personnel in attendance.


He added, “Dialogue puts everybody in a win-win situation, and it is safer and better than other acrimonious and abrasive methods of engagement, which are often adopted whenever differences occur.”

The member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication since December 2021 emphasized the value of interreligious dialogue ahead of the 2023 elections saying it will “preempt and remove all obstacles that could impede the exercise.”

The Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) said ecumenical and interfaith dialogue have been pillars of the Catholic Church’s identity and mission since the Second Vatican.

“The Holy Father Pope Francis, reiterated this in many of his recent messages and encyclicals emphasizing that dialogue and encounter among generations, tribes, races religions and confessions are the best ways to create a better world, cement harmonious relations and guarantee peace and development in our time,” he said.

The Nigerian Catholic Church leader added during the December 3 event, “It is my hope and prayer that at the end of this day we will all go away more enriched by our exchanges and interactions than when we came here.”

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Speaking at the same event that was organized under the theme, “Towards National Elections 2023: The Validity of Dialogue for Peaceful Coexistence and Development”, a representative of the Justice, Peace and Development Movement (JPDM) in Oyo Diocese echoed Bishop Badejo’s call for dialogue.

“As the elections draw near, dialoguing is essential; when we discuss, we will bring out issues bothering us and offer solutions,” Dominic Taiwo said.

On her part, Asiawu Bello, a Muslim faithful, called for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians despite their religious affiliations.

“Don’t repay evil for evil; even when one offends you, return the evil with good and possibly the person may change through your character,” Mrs. Bello said.

The Oyo Diocesan Director of Inter-Religious dialogue, Fr. Moses Alaba, underlined the need for unity in achieving peace and development in the country during the electioneering period.


“Let us seek our country’s stability and good governance through our religious practices and our involvement in civic duties,” Fr. Alaba said. 

On his part, the Oyo Police Area Commander, Elijah Adekaye, cautioned the youth against being enticed by politicians to cause violence.

“Don’t be a destructive tool in the hands of politicians; there is no permanent friend/enemy in politics, so respect fundamental human rights before and during elections for peaceful co-existence in the society,” Mr. Adekaye has been quoted as saying. 

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.