By Sam Eyoboka

LAGOS — TWO weeks before the general election which has generated tremendous interest by Nigerians and the world, retired Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie has called on Nigerians to pray much more than ever before for the success of the exercise and the emergence of upright leaders who will take the nation to a new dimension.

In a similar development, his successor and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins also cautioned politicians to desist from engaging in violence, and destruction of lives and property, saying that such unruly conduct, if not checked, is capable of casting a shadow on the forthcoming election.

Addressing newsmen in his Cardinal’s Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, Okogie said: “We need a selfless leader, a leader who will see everybody as his own, he must be patriotic, he must see Nigeria as her own; there must be spirit of self-sacrifice and love for everybody.”

According to the cleric, “we have to pray because the atmosphere is too tense and I think only God can help us. You cannot rule out God in our nation, and that is one of the things that is killing us.”

Cardinal Okogie

Abuja peace accord

Okogie urged politicians to abide by the Abuja peace accord and ensure a free, fair and violent free election on February 14 and 28 so that Nigerian can go about their businesses without fear or apprehension about a possible outbreak of violence.

Reacting to the news of politically motivated violence in parts of the country, particularly in Oyo State and some other states in North during the campaign tour of the two leading Presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the APC, Archbishop Martins described the development as unfortunate and misguided, adding that such retrogressive acts of aggression leading to loss of innocent lives and properties do not augur well for democracy.

In a release signed by the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Msgr. Gabriel Osu, the prelate said: “I feel very pained to hear and read of the several cases of violence recorded in parts of the country allegedly perpetuated by some of the supporters of the leading political parties.

“A situation whereby campaign vehicles of opposing parties are set ablaze, to the extent of causing bodily harm on others is unacceptable and barbaric. Violence would never get us anywhere. We are also very concerned about the threats of post-election violence by leaders of ex-militant groups and other opposing parties.

“Elections are yet to hold but the opposing parties are already declaring war if they lose. This situation does not inspire confidence in the electorate and heats up the polity unduly.”

The archbishop, therefore, called on leaders of the various political parties to call their supporters to order.

While appreciating the call by the Inspector General of Police for the immediate prosecution of all those arrested for allegedly involving in violent political activities, Archbishop Martins also warned Nigerians to remain vigilant and not allow themselves to be used as pawns by unscrupulous elements to achieve their selfish aims to the detriment of their own lives and the future of their children.

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