The Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has warned those with the intent to rig the February 25 and March 11 general election to bury the thought.
The cleric, who spoke at the 20th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: Interrogating the 2023 Presidential Agenda, on Thursday in Abuja, told those he called “professional riggers” across all political parties as well as within and outside of government that the polls “will not be business as usual.”
He said. “I am sure in my mind that the major issue in the minds right now of most Nigerians, at home and abroad, is the February-March 2023 general election. The key issue is whether this election will bring about meaningful change for the better for our nation.
“A relatively small group of professional political elite has 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.
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“If things are to change for the better, it cannot be business as usual. 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 common good, and not as ways and means of capturing power for self-interest!
“Such a change will come from two by no means mutually exclusive directions: a total change of heart by our professional political elite and a new group of concerned elite citizens ready to drive the new agenda of politics for service and ready also to 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 anyway forward?
“Truly, free, fair and credible elections: that is the only way from which we will emerge at all levels of government, men and women who are ready to serve the nation with dedication, sincerity, honesty and integrity…
“Let our usual ‘professional riggers’ across all parties, both within and outside of government, be put on strong notice that this time round, it will not be business as usual. This is not a threat. Rather, it is a sincere warning. Let those who have ears listen!”