Catholic Bishops in Nigeria Call for Calm, Electoral Body Declares President-elect

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of the presidential election in Nigeria. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria are calling upon the country’s citizens to “remain calm, law-abiding and fervent in prayers” hours before Nigeria’s electoral body declared the President-elect in the February 25 general elections.

In the early hours of Wednesday, 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.

The BBC News report indicates that the 70-year-old veteran politician got “36% of the vote while his main rival Atiku Abubakar polled 29%, and Labour's Peter Obi 25%,” results that Nigeria’s main opposition parties have disputed.

In a statement issued February 28 on behalf of members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji urges “leaders of political parties to exercise restraint.”

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding, and fervent in prayers,” Bishop Iwejuru who is CBCN President says, and adds, “In particular, we urge the leaders of political parties to exercise restraint.”


BBC News has reported that Mr. Tinubu, “one of Nigeria's richest politicians, based his campaign on his record of rebuilding the biggest city, Lagos when he was governor.”

He reportedly won most other states in his home region of the Southwest Nigeria, where he is known as a "political godfather", the report further indicates.

Prior to the declaration of the Presidential result, the main opposition parties staged a walkout, accusing the INEC of not uploading the presidential results from the polling stations.

In their February 28 message, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria highlight the importance of the February 25 polls and point out some irregularities in the electoral process.

They recall that “for a very long time now, we have been praying for peaceful, transparent, and credible elections as well as an accurate transmission of their results.”

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“We thank God, who in His infinite mercy, has continued to save our country Nigeria from chaos, anarchy, and doom,” they add.

Before the general elections of 25 February 2023, the Bishops recount, “Nigerians were assured both by the Federal Government and by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that enough electoral reforms and preparation had been made to ensure that the sovereign will of the people be accurately reflected in the conduct of the elections.”

“Hence, people trooped out in their numbers to cast votes in order to freely choose their next President and representatives at the Senate and Federal House of Assembly,” CBCN members say.

Unfortunately, the Bishops lament, “The experiences of many voters on Election Day were a far cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised.”

In many places, the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria further lament, “The human element is alleged to have compromised the gains that were expected from the innovations of the new Electoral Act.”


“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,” they say, and add, “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.”

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria urge citizens of Africa’s most populous nation to give “INEC the time to prove that it is still worthy of our trust.”

“At this time, when the nation is standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice, INEC must live above board to avoid plunging the nation into an avoidable crisis,” CBCN members say in their February 28 message, hours before Nigeria’s electoral body declared the country’s President-elect.

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.