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2023: Religious Leaders Tasked To Join Campaign Of Violence Free Election



By Rafiu Agboola, Osogbo

The Grand Imaam of Osun State and President, League of Imaams and Alfas, Sheikh Musa Animasahun has appealed to religious leaders in the country to add their voices to the campaign for a violence-free election in Nigeria

Animasahun directed imaams of all central mosques across the state to center their Friday (Khutubah) sermon on sustainable peace and harmony before, during and after the Saturday general elections.

Also the Catholic Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Most Revd John Akin Oyejola urged residents of the state to go out peacefully on the day of election and cast their votes for candidates of their choice.

The religious heads gave the admonition at a news conference organised by the Interreligious Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, at the Catholic Chancery Facilities Bishop’s House, Oke-Ayepe, Osogbo.

Animasahun said religious leaders must try as much as possible to maintain neutrality during the general elections.

Represented by an Islamic scholar, Sheik AbudulSalam Akinwumi, the Grand Imaam said religious leaders must use their offices to advocate for peaceful election and educate their followers on the need to maintain peaceful coexistence amongst themselves.

“I want to appeal to all Central Mosque Imaams across the state to, as a matter of importance,  centre their Friday Khutubah (sermons) on promotion of peace and harmony before, during and after the Saturday’s Presidential and House of Assembly elections.

“While I want to urged residents of the state to be law abiding, religious leaders in the state and Nigeria should also add their voices to the campaign for a violence-free election in Nigeria”

He called on religious leaders not only to preach but continue to dialogue with one another by showing and exhibiting good relationships with their followers for the overall peace, unity and development of the country.

Most Revd John Akin Oyejola said: As we are planning to go into elections this coming few days I want to beg you to please go out and vote. It is your civil duties. If you fail to vote, you will always get bad leaders and if you vote, the people will respect you.

“Your PVC is your power and when you use your power, people will respect you.

“Politicians are begging us to work for them.  When you vote for them you are employing /accepting them to work for you for the next four years and their power and stewardship is to give report of their work to you.

“So after four years, if their stewardship is not accepted by you, you will sack them by not voting for them next time.

“It very important for every bonafide citizens of Nigeria that have reached the age of 18years to go out and vote. 

“I know some people don’t have PVCs, if you don’t have PVC, stay at home but if you have and know your polling unit, go and vote and when you get to your polling units, don’t fight. 

“Your power is to vote and when you finish voting you can stay back to see the counting but do not join violence. I understand the way things are going.”

Echoing similar views, Rev Dr Paul Kolawole also urged people of the state to eschew any act capable of causing violence before, during, and after the polls.

Kolawole, however, urged the electorate to go out massively and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.

In an address, General Coordinator of the JDPMC, Reverend Peter Akinkunmi harped on the need for people to participate in the coming general elections.

General Coordinator of the JDPMC, Reverend Peter Akinkunmi making his own remarks

Akinkunmi advised voters to trust the integrity of electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC because of the new electoral act 2022 

He maintained that it’s important for the electorates to respect electoral law and mobilize to exercise their civic responsibilities, while also appealing to  INEC to adequately train both permanent and ad hoc staff to master and comply with the guidelines of the commission.

“A lot of issues making up the background of 2023 general election necessitate that everyone should participate during this 2023 general elections.

“This election is unique because unlike in the past, there are three very strong contestants in this general election since we returned to democracy in 1999.

“We have a situation where we do not have one specific candidate that is already dominant on the political space ahead of the 2023 general election and so we do belief that as much persons that come out to vote, so are we going to have determinant for a winner during the presidential election.” he said.