I’m worried about 2023 elections – Onaiyekan

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THE Catholic Arch Bishop Emeritus, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has expressed worries over attacks on the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying he is not too confident about the 2023 general elections.

The 2023 general elections are scheduled to hold between February and March 2023 but many offices of the electoral umpire have been attacked, mostly in the eastern part of the country, while non-state actors are holding sway in many northern communities.

Onaiyekan, while speaking about the elections on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, expressed pessimism about the polls following continuous attacks on INEC offices.

While lamenting the election-related violence all over the country, Onaiyekan who is a member of the National Peace Committee, said politicians and their followers were not respecting the peace accord they signed.

“I will be frank with you that I am worried and not too confident because the performance of the political parties and their followers are often at variance with what is expected of them; what they signed during the peace accord.

“The peace accord simply spelt out what the politician should do; simple things that politicians should be civil when they carry out their campaign, they should not engage in hate speech, they should not tell lies against one another, they should not tell lies about what they will do or tell lies about what they have done when we know they have not done them.

“We are looking for a campaign that will be issue-based, respectful and truthful and objective so that Nigerians listening to them will be able to make up their minds.

“The question is when the rules are not observed, who is it that will insist on accountability? There is too much impunity, a lot of people getting away with things they ought not to do. INEC is doing its best but there is a limit to what it can do.

“We are also seeing other events taking place in terms of violent events, burning of INEC offices, killings and those kinds of things making our society and communities unstable and we are wondering if we can continue like this into a free, fair and credible election.

“And who is to restrain the hands of all these violent actors? Those of us who are neither in the security department nor even the political arena are looking on and often we don’t know what to say.”

He said Nigerians are looking for a government that will uphold truth and justice as well as one that would give them a decent job that will earn them a minimum of decent living.

Onaiyekan chided the politicians who make promises to Nigerians but always failed to fulfil those promises.

He said the country’s problem is not about ethnicity and religion, questioning the sincerity of politicians who manipulate religion and ethnicity to win votes.

He said the religious leaders in the country have been working hard to have mutual respect and understanding for one another, saying they are trying to bring this to the consciousness of their followers.

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