By Bridget Ikyado, Abuja.
His Grace, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, has cautioned politicians against any attempt to rig the forthcoming general elections.
“With the current yearnings of the people for a better country, the election will no longer be business as usual,” Onaiyekan said on Saturday during the celebration of his 40th anniversary as Bishop at the Holy Trinity Church, Maitama, Abuja.
He said: “As regards the results of the elections, politicians should desist from any form of manipulations to their favour, if not voted for.
“All those who are planning to play games and scheme to rig, in order to frustrate the desire and the decision of the people as regards the results of the elections, should desist from such.
“All of them, whether they are in government or not, should desist from rigging or causing violence; they should not do it, they should allow this election to run in a free and fair way.”
Onaiyekan stressed that he had no special candidate, adding that the advice was for the politicians to understand that “the mood in which Nigeria is now is not a mood that they will quietly accept a rigged election.
“For the sake of peace, there will be serious repercussions if anybody doesn’t allow free and fair elections; it won’t be business as usual, anymore.
“I want Nigerians to know that they can no longer keep quiet all the time, hoping that things will change; that God will work miracles,” he said.
Onaiyekan advised Nigerians to use their voter cards to express their minds.
According to him, the outcome of the election will not be about who has more campaign posters or who can mobilise more crowds to a stadium.
“It will depend on who can convince Nigerians and give us a new kind of government.
“Government that is based on people interested in working for the common good, and not out to enrich themselves or stay in power or protect their stolen wealth, so as not to be queried,” he said.
The archbishop advised politicians to fear God, as they would answer for their actions before Him.
“Even if no one asks questions, God will ask questions and He has His way of asking questions,” he added.
At the church service, the cardinal also narrated his journey through priesthood.
“On a Thursday afternoon in January 1983, Pope John Paul II ordained me, Monsignor John Onaiyekan, a Bishop at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“40 years after as a Bishop, I return thanks to God, many who were with me on that day are no more but God, through His special grace, has kept me,” he said.
He prayed God to bless all who attended the event and those who could not but supported him with their prayers.
In his speech, the Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, His Grace Ignatius Kaigama, described the cardinal as a man of humility and peace.
“So, we celebrate God’s gift to us in Nigeria, Abuja and in the world, and I am happy that God has spared him thus far,” Kaigama said.
Friends and clerics from within and outside Nigeria came out to rejoice with the cardinal.