Catholic clerics on Wednesday appealed to the faithful to pray and also go out to vote, as a service to God and the nation.
They spoke with newsmen in interviews on the upcoming elections in the country.
The parish priest, Saints Joachim and Anne Catholic Church, Ijegun, Rev. Fr. Andrew Abhulime, urged the faithful to pray for violence-free elections and also go out to vote.
He said that no patriotic citizen should decide to keep away from voting for any reason because it is a civic and spiritual responsibility.
“Come this Saturday and the other slated one, every dedicated Christian, Catholic or Nigerian should go out and vote.
“As much as we need to pray for violence-free elections, which is why the Catholic Bishops directed all Catholics to fast from Wednesday to Friday, in addition, we must also come out and vote; it is our right, for prayer without work is dead, so, praying and keeping away is worthless, ” he said.
Similarly, Rev. Fr. Andrew Ogidan, serving in Lekki, urged the patriotic faithful to go out and vote wisely without external influence.
“Don’t sell your vote and conscience for any cost, it is not worth it; be yourself and please your choice,” he said.
Another cleric, the priest in charge of Saint Maria Gorretti, Abaranje, Rev. Fr Gabriel Udoh, said that no one should fall prey to deceit in casting his or her ballot.
“Don’t sell your vote for a cup of rice or money; four years is bigger than a cup of rice, don’t be deceived by party publicity, rather, research on the candidates and then vote right.
“Your vote is your power, your future, it determines your welfare in the next four years. Vote out any government or individual that will not represent your interest.
“Be it the interest of your children, the church and the nation at large, it is important to be part of this decision,” he said.
Udoh said Nigeria deserved the best because it was richly blessed with maximum potentialities.
Another cleric in charge of Christ the King Parish, Akure, Rev. Fr Clement Oddiah, described voting as a civic duty that should be taken seriously.
” Politicians remain friends no matter the divisions, they don’t die but only defect when their interests are threatened, we should endeavour to vote as it pleases our consciences,” he said.
According to Rev. Fr. Bernard Ngwu (MSP), there will be a new Nigeria if its citizens are able to decide, because God has promised that He will create new heavens and new earth in the scripture.
He said it was left for citizens to go and vote, bearing in mind that bad government would only be elected by good citizens who refuse to cast their votes.
” An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office, as was operated since the 17th century.
” Every Nigerian of over 18years of age is required by law to participate fully in all the elections,” Oddiah said.
He said that some countries made voting compulsory to the extent that failure to vote was punishable.
The cleric said that many countries such as Greece, Australia, Brazil and even Nigeria hold their elections on the weekends, especially on Saturdays, to encourage higher turnout of voters.
“I join the voice of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to make an appeal for special prayer, to turn to God in prayer and especially at this trial times.
” Let us continue in prayer for our brothers and sisters who are seeking elective positions and for free and fair elections, to fulfil the promise of God for a new Nigeria,” he said.