The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Church in Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, says Nigeria’s affairs are being run by two major political parties, with no ideological identity but mainly structures for capturing power for selfish interests.
He said this in Abuja on Thursday during the 20th Daily Trust Dialogue themed ‘Interrogating the 2023 Presidential Agenda’.
He said: “A relatively small group of professional political elite have been running the affairs of the nation, mainly freely between two major political parties with no specific ideological identity but mainly structures for capturing power for rather selfish personal and group interests.
“If things are to change for the better, it cannot be business as usual.”
He said there is need for a drastic change of orientation, especially in the concept and practice of political power, characterised by politics as sincere and honest service of the common good, “and not as ways and means of capturing power for self-interest.”
According to him, such a change will come from a total change of heart by the professional political elite.
Onaiyekan also stressed the need for a new group of concerned elite citizens ready to drive the new agenda of politics for service and pay the cost of involvement.
“Will the forthcoming elections bring this about? That is the question to interrogate!
“Can we hope that the 2023 elections will not be ‘business as usual’, an attitude that has not been moving the nation any way forward?
“Truly, free, fair and credible elections: that is the only way from which will emerge at all levels of government men and women ready to serve the nation with dedication, sincerity, honesty and integrity.”
Onaiyekan said Nigeria was witnessing a great change in the heightened number of citizens now interested in elections, noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission was talking of almost 100 million registered voters for the 2023 general elections.
“This is a clear and positive sign that many Nigerians have abandoned our traditional widespread voter apathy, trusting that involvement in elections will no longer be a waste of time for the ordinary citizen.
“Can we expect these millions of new voters to insist on a free and fair election and reject and refuse to settle for any rigged election, peacefully, without violence but with determination?”
Onaiyekan also warned those he called professional riggers that this year’s general elections would not be business as usual.
“Let our usual professional riggers across all parties, both within and outside of government, be put on strong notice that this time around, it will not be business as usual. This is not a threat. Rather it is a sincere warning. Let those who have ears listen,” Onaiyekan said.