The Catholic Church has tasked the federal government to provide enabling environment for citizens to exercise their franchise in 2023, devoid of violence, intimidation, vote buying and vote selling.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the church’s 3rd National Pastoral Congress held in Benin.
The communique was made available by Padre Mike-Nsikak Umoh, the National Director of Social Communications on Thursday in Abuja.
“These electoral anomalies harm the democratic process as they contribute to depriving citizens the freedom to make informed choices at elections, by making the process less credible,” it added.
It also urged the government to provide adequate security to enable citizens to come out and exercise their franchise.
The church advised citizens to vote candidates of credibility and integrity who have demonstrated the capacity to pilot the affairs of the nation in a responsible and corrupt-free manner.
It also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the electoral process “is just, transparent, open, free, fair and credible.”
“INEC, as a genuine umpire, must be neutral and objective and not favour any parties but apply the laws and principles to all in a fair and equitable manner,” it added.
The communique said campaigns should be idea-based devoid of bitterness and unhealthy rivalry.
“Political candidates for the election should avail citizens of their electoral manifestoes including strategies for achieving set goals and objectives.
“It is hoped that political office holders would support their manifestoes with strategies to achieve set targets and actually pursue those goals when elected to office.”
The church reminded Nigerians to hold political office holders accountable.
“On this, Civil Society Organisations should play active roles through advocacy and enlightenment,” it added.
The church expressed concern over the bad shape of the economy, including high cost of energy and staple foods amidst decline in the purchasing power of citizens.
“Government should devise a strategy that makes fuel and other petroleum products available, accessible and affordable,” it added.
It described the new government policy of Naira redesign aimed at curbing inflation and fighting corruption and terrorism, as a lofty idea.
It, however, said that the Naira redesign alone would not provide the needed reprieve for the economy and address the hydra-headed problems of corruption and terrorism.
The church therefore said, “The redesigned naira must be accompanied by strong institutional frameworks and laws.
“Such as an effective policing system, tracking and timely prosecution of corrupt persons and strengthening the security agencies to properly police Nigeria’s borders to prevent the influx of armed bandits from other countries.”