SUSTAINING PEACE AND UNITY AHEAD OF, DURING AND AFTER THE 2022 OSUN STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION
(A press release by the Conference of Heads of Mainline Churches in Osogbo, Thursday, 16 June 2022)
- We heads of the mainline Churches in Osogbo namely the Bishop of the Catholic Osogbo of Diocese, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Osun, the Bishop of the Osun Diocese, the Bishop of the Osun-Central Diocese of the African Church and the President of the Osun Baptist Conference, hereby commend and appreciate the individual and joint-efforts of traditional institutions, religious leaders, leaders of various stakeholder-groups and unions in Osun state; together with the governments of the various states of the south-west to sustain and promote peace and unity across Yorubaland in spite of the advancing reign of terror and bloodshed across our country Nigeria.
- In spite of this, we cannot fail to express with profound bitterness of heart the terrible wound inflicted on our collective consciences as citizens of Nigeria and in particular members of the Body of Christ arising from the shedding of the blood of our Christian and Muslim compatriots simply for their expression of the religious views or attachment to the symbols of their religion. We therefore condemn vehemently the brutal attack and cold blood murder of numerous faithful at worship on a solemn day such as the day of Pentecost at St Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State. This atrocious incident transcends the growing disregard for the sacredness of human life in our country. To have invaded the House of God and murdered His children in His presence at his own sanctuary is a tragic act of assault on the person of the Almighty God. The hitherto brutal death suffered by Deborah Samuel in Sokoto in the hands of religious fanatics; and the cruel shedding of the blood of the pregnant Harira Jubril and her four children for their likely attachment to their Islamic religious symbol in Orumba, Imo State are indications that all hands must be on deck to ensure religious fanaticism does not aggravate the already overwhelming rate terror in the land.
- We appreciate the fact that few days after we joined our voices with all stakeholders formerly as a body, the Electoral Act 2022 was signed by the presidency and has since taken effect. We consider this development a renewal of hope and reinforcement of faith in the stability of democracy in our dear country Nigeria. We therefore call on all eligible citizens who have registered to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voter’s Card and prepare to participate actively in the coming gubernatorial election which is barely a month from today. The furtherance of the use of technology by the new electoral law as well as the efforts of INEC to decentralize the polling units to encourage voters to at closer proximity to their homes with less stress, INEC’s continuous engagement with all relevant stakeholders and enlightenment of the citizenry have set in motion an atmosphere that manifests a significant improvement on the past.
- We commend also our politicians in Osun, who up to this point have significantly reduced verbal and physical assault of opponents in campaign activities. It is however disheartening that we already observe triggers of violence around our major cities such as the destruction of posters and symbols of candidates of various parties. While we appeal to politicians to continue to use verbal and body languages that promote peace as we approach the election date, we encourage all young persons in Osun state to make a personal commitment to contribute to the joint effort for the fostering of peace and progress in Osun State.
- We shall not also fail to mention with dismay, the worsening shameful ugly trend of money politics during the recently held primaries of various political parties. All citizens of Osun and indeed our nation Nigeria must in the spirit of patriotism and sense of common vehemently renounce the marauding beast of vote buying which makes our polity vulnerable to cowards in the political space who mean nothing good for our common existence.
- We encourage politicians to enliven the pre-election atmosphere with the issue-based campaigns and demonstrate respect for the citizenry by ensuring that their manifestos get to the reach of the common man at the grassroots to prepare them for voting from a free and informed conscience. In this respect, we call on the media to manifest high sense of professionalism as we appeal to all citizens to eschew fake news and hate speech and avoid their dissemination by whatever means. We must use social media conscientiously with respect for the dignity and safety of our fellow human beings.
- We call on security agencies to be committed to the protection of all citizens of Nigeria and to create an atmosphere of security most needed for the conduct of a participatory credible election. They must perform their duties with an absolute sense of neutrality. We appeal to citizens also to be law abiding and cooperate with the security agencies to enable them to serve everyone effectively.
- We encourage victors during the election to be magnanimous in victory and constitute an inclusive government that would give everyone a sense of belonging and would foster collaboration in peace for the progress of our dear state.
- Finally, we call on all religious communities to put our state in prayer and encourage all the faithful of their religions to work with their compatriots for a peaceful and progressive Osun State and Nigeria as a whole. Prayers should be offered to reach out for the mercy of the almighty God upon our land.
Long live Osun State, Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Most Rev. John Oyejola Rt Rev Amos K. Ogunrinde
Catholic Bishop of Osogbo Diocese The Methodist Bishop of Osogbo Diocese
Rt Rev Dr Foluso Olugbenga Babatunji Rev James O. Bamidele
The Anglican Bishop of Osun Diocese The African Church Bishop of Osun Central Diocese
Rev Dr Paul Kolawole
Conference President, Osun Baptist Conference