“Remain apolitical, neutral”: Nigerian Faith Leaders to Preachers on Gubernatorial Poll

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Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria’s Kaduna State have appealed for neutrality on the part of religious leaders in the West African nation ahead of the country’s gubernatorial elections that have been postponed by a week.

On Wednesday, March 8, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the postponement of the country’s Saturday, March 11 election of new governors for 28 of the 36 States, citing challenges in logistics, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections,” INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye, said in a statement referencing the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines that were used during the February 25 voting for the President and members of the National Assembly, and the need to reconfigure them.

The election of governors that is part of Nigeria’s general elections for four-year single terms for major political positions in Africa’s most populous nation is to take place on Saturday, March 18.

In a statement issued Friday, March 10, members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) note with concern that just days before “the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, the political atmosphere is overheated even much more than we experienced in the run-off to the February 25, 2023 elections.”


“It is sad to note that our revered calling and places of worship are being used for politics by some religious preachers,” Christian and Muslim leaders in Kaduna State say.

The faith-based leaders say that they find it regrettable that a section of religious leaders has “resorted to using the holy place meant for holy Service, campaigning for candidates and parties and issuing out unholy messages.”

“It is not healthy for places of worship to be used for political campaigns and endorsement of candidates,” CAN and JNI members in Kaduna State say.

They recall their stance on politics, saying that they “have consistently cautioned against the use of religion for promoting political parties and candidates.” 

“We cannot therefore, allow the noble credentials of our faiths to be subverted by a few religious clerics,” they further say, and add, “We need to always remember that our followers even within the same Church or Mosque may belong to different political parties.”

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The Christian and Muslim leaders in Kaduna State emphasize, “There is a need for Imams, Pastors and other leaders of faith to remain apolitical and neutral.”

“All religious leaders in Kaduna State must ensure strict adherence to the teachings of the Holy Books by promoting peaceful coexistence,” they further say, and continue, “It is our duty to create an understanding of the need for people to go out and cast their votes in a peaceful manner as prescribed by the law.”

The faith-based leaders appeal to “all religious preachers of the Islamic and Christian faiths to resist the temptation of using sacred altars and pulpits to carry out unhealthy politics of promoting one party or candidate above the others.”

They remind all religious leaders of “being accountable to the Creator Who has graciously recruited them to serve Him and thus, will be rewarded in accordance with their actions and words.”

The Christian and Muslim leaders in Kaduna State further call on the electorate in Nigeria to participate in the March 18 gubernatorial poll, to “freely decide our common destiny as far as leadership of our state in the next four years is concerned.”


They express appreciation to “all citizens for the way we conducted ourselves in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.”

“Our peaceful conduct and enthusiasm are worth commending. Indeed, the outing showed an incredible political reawakening, the kind that our nation, Nigeria, needs to prosper,” the faith leaders say about the February 25 poll that had the ruling party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, declared winner of the presidential election.

That declaration is being contested by the country’s opposition candidates.

In their March 10 statement, Christian and Muslim leaders in Kaduna State implore God’s mercy and guidance “for peaceful and credible elections come Saturday, March 18th, 2023.”

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.