By Cbimezie Godfrey
The Sultan of Sokoto and Co-Chairman, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar has rebutted the belief that 2023 elections would be a make-or-break for Nigeria, stating that only God would decide who wins the election.
The Sultan said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the 4th Quarter Meeting of NIREC themed: “Peaceful and Credible Elections For National Renaissance”. He said that Nigeria must stop copying foreigners and look inwards for homegrown solutions to its problem.
Abubakar therefore warned against falling prey to elements who propagate such divisive narratives.
He said, “ A lot of people make comments about 2023 elections as a make or break for Nigeria and I don’t believe that. I totally refuse to believe in that. It is just an election that people will go out and cast their votes in peace and then whoever emerges the winner, by Almighty Allah, is decided to be the leader of this country, leaders of the states where we all come from.
“So I don’t believe it is a make-or-break election and we must not play into the hands of those enemies of Nigeria who keep on parading such issues that this is the election that will decide the fate of this country, only Allah will decide the fate of this country and any other country.
“Let us go out and campaign peacefully and whenever elections come up we elect who we think is best for us and we leave the rest for Almighty Allah. Because all these people and countries saying these things have their own issues.”
He stressed the need for Nigerians to show understanding with one another due to the diversity in religion and ethnicity, explaining that Nigeria can only be united but not uniform.
The Sultan who emphasized the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies in ensuring peaceful and credible elections, urged them to be honest and impartial in doing so.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF Boss Mustapha in his address affirmed that nothing would happen to Nigeria as it is in the hands of God.
Mustapha thanked the joint conveners of the meeting, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of CAN for their leadership and commitment to ensuring peaceful coexistence, development and security of Nigeria.
The SGF therefore added that the leadership of NIREC has a critical role to play in the forthcoming coming General Election because they are regarded as the spiritual heads, influences of society and also custodians of theology and ethics which the followers look up to for guidance.
“At this critical period of active political activities, the leaderships of NIREC are expected to be apolitical in any of their dealings and should be father for all regardless.
“Moreso, the leadership of NIREC should ensure that they sue for peace among their followers by ensuring their sermons in all worship centres are tailored towards peace in pre, during and post election period.
Mustapha asserted that President Muhammadu Buhari has provided every necessary requirement for INEC to ensure peaceful and credible elections.
He called on NIREC to continue to support the Government and INEC by preaching the benefit of peaceful and credible elections for the rebirth of the Nation to congregations and family members.
Earlier in his welcome address, Co-Chairman and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN Archbishop Daniel Okoh said the theme for the meeting underscored the importance of 2023 election to NIREC.
He said in the past, elections in Nigeria have been characterized by violence and electoral irregularities. He said politics of corruption, intimidation, exclusion and violence were regarded by some as necessary weapons of political victory in Nigeria. “This ugly trend robs the Nigerian voters of the opportunity to freely choose their leaders.
“As we navigate the process to the 2023 general elections, the world is watching to see if there will be a relatively peaceful transition, or a repeat of the familiar ugly past always filled with pre-and post-electoral violence, ” he said.
The CAN President expressed optimism that the ugly history of pre- or post-electoral violence will not repeat if Nigeria decides to halt the trend through strategic conversations that appeal to the conscience of the political class “like we are doing here today.”
He also said the CAN body would be deploying electoral observers to work with other observers in major polling units across the states in Nigeria to observe the 2023 elections as it did in 2019.
Furthermore, the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Prof Cornelius Omonokhua in the welcome address said the capacity to grow a great nation lies first in the human capacity to vote wisely for a leader who can revive the needs of the citizens such as good roads, railways, refineries, electricity, iron and steel industries with everything good.
He said Nigeria needs a leader who is vast in developing human capacity, local and international politics along with a proper method of monitoring and evaluation. “Let us pray and vote in the leadership that can build on the efforts of our past heroes. We can, if we are determined to conquer selfishness and greed.
“To explore this determination, I think of a national Renaissance in Nigeria that must begin with a change of personal attitude, ” he said.
Chief of Chief Defense Staff, CDS General Lucky Irabor who was represented by Chief of Defense Civil-Military Cooperation assured the commitment of Nigeria’s Armed Forces guaranteeing peaceful election whenever it is directed to do so.