The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah has urged Christians, especially Catholic faithful in the country, to consider voting during the governorship and state house assembly elections scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday the 9th of March, 2019, as part of their Lenten observance.
Catholic faithful all over the world have begun their Lenten observance – a 40 days spiritual journey of fasting and penitent prayers to commemorate the suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the son of God, Jesus Christ, also known as the Stations of the Cross.
The spiritual exercise, which begins with the Ash Wednesday( with this year’s being on the 6th of March, 2019) is a period when Catholic faithful pray, fast and ask God for forgiveness for their sins. It is also a period the Christians use to reflect on their spiritual journey to heaven, denying themselves of those things that make them sinners.
However, as part of the church’s efforts in ensuring that it’s faithful partake in the performance of their civic responsibility to the nation, the Nsukka Diocesan Bishop enjoined the Christians to consider voting to elect leaders in the country as part of their Lenten observance.
In a statement to newsmen by the Diocese’s Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Matthew Eze, it said the prelate made the comment known while delivering his homily at St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka, Enugu state, during a Eucharistic celebration marking the beginning of the special Season of Lent.
Addressing his congregation, Bishop Onah said apart from the usual Catholic traditional practice of coming out in large numbers every Friday for the Stations of the Cross, that they should also regard Saturday 9th March which is the day of election as another day for a unique form of Stations of the Cross.
He urged that all those who are eligible to vote should go to their various polling booths, not only to exercise their civic responsibilities but to also make a concrete sacrifice for the good of the nation.
On the significance of the Lenten season, Father Bishop, as he is fondly called in his Diocese, explained that three key major duties characterize the Lenten Season namely; Fasting, Alms giving and Prayer.
“Concerning prayer, he reminded all on the importance of praying, especially for the country which he said is “in a state of chaos” and encouraged every Christian “to make appropriate use of the grace that the Church offers us within this period as a healing balm to rescue our nation especially during the Stations of the Cross.”
According to him, “There will be two Stations of the Cross this week. The first is on Friday and the second is on Saturday, the day of election. The first day of the Stations of the Cross which is on Friday is for everybody during which we all are expected to come out and pray for our country Nigeria, while the second Stations of the Cross on Saturday gives us an opportunity to match our prayer with useful practical steps. This second one is only for adults who have voter’s card.”
He however, lamented that it is tear-jerking to learn that many adults refused to register for the election after numerous efforts to get them registered.
He said most tragic of it all is that some of the voters have their voter’s cards but remain indifferent and unresponsive to the elections.
He said voting during the Governorship and state houses of Assembly elections is” a sacrifice, offering of love for our nation and our own contribution towards saving our country that has been battered and shattered by corruption at all levels.”
Bishop Onah also tasked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to ensure that anti-corruption fight takes into consideration, ridding the electoral process of rigging.
Condemning the alleged rigging and electoral violence that were witnessed during last Saturday’s Presidential and parliamentary elections, the Bishop noted that “a government cannot claim to be fighting corruption if it condones corruption in the electoral process from which it emerges.”
He said a “government which is the result of a corrupt electoral process would lack the moral grounds for fighting corruption.”
He however admonished the people not to be discouraged by the alleged irregularities that took place during the last presidential election, instead, they should bear in mind that “part of the life of every true Christian is never to give up and to remain hopeful in every situation.”
The prelate added that no matter how difficult and painful this may seem, that they should all strive to go out obediently, stand in line patiently and vote as noble citizens. He said through their exemplary lives, they should shine as the light of Christ in our dark society.