Valentine Ozigbo, the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 6 governorship election, has called on politicians to stay focused on the reasons for seeking office, which “is fundamentally to serve the people”.
Mr Ozigbo made these remarks while attending a forum of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference held in Enugu at Holy Ghost Cathedral on Saturday, August 21, 2021 which was hosted by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.
A respected business leader and inspirational figure, Ozigbo stressed the need for politicians to ensure that the core values of the church – peace-building, compassion, and community – are reflected in politics.
“The church has a significant role to play in shaping the way politicians behave and by so doing, shape the politics of the country,” Ozigbo, a multiple-award-winning global CEO, said.
“Catholics and indeed all Christians who are politicians must, therefore, strive to ensure that values which form the doctrines and traditions of the church, are reflected in their leadership for the good of all.
“I came into politics because I believe I am led to serve my people. That is all there is to my race for the governorship. I have a dream bigger than me or any one person, and it is the dream to bring a real and positive transformation to Ndi Anambra.
“I pledge to work with the church on programmes in healthcare and education which benefit all people in the society whether they are Catholics or not. That spirit of inclusiveness will permeate my government if I am elected,” Ozigbo declared.
Other notable politicians who attended the August event were the governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi; the governor of Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi; a former presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi; the president-general of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; a former aviation minister, Mrs Fidelia Njenze; the interim president, Old Catholic Seminarians of Nigeria, Ambrose Obiora; and the state chairman of the PDP in Kaduna, Felix Hassan, among others.
The president of the Bishop Conference, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin City, called on politicians to remain good ambassadors of the Church by “playing politics of principle, ideology, and with fear of God”.
Most Rev. Akubeze also referred to the 2019 Catholic manual as a guide for politicians and other professionals. He said that the document was produced to shape the minds of Catholic and other politicians and impact a culture of values in service. He exhorted politicians of all denominations and faith to ensure that the masses feel their impact in politics by following the tenets and teachings in the manual.
Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, also spoke at the event on the topic, “Are we politicians who are Catholics or are we Catholics who are politicians?” As he posed the questions to the audience, Kukah maintained that it was a paradox for a Catholic politician to not be equipped with the values and moral fabric that define Catholicism.
The Bishops commended former Governor Obi for the bold steps he took in returning mission schools to the church during his tenure as Anambra State Governor. They urged other governors to follow in line with that policy, which positively impacted the quality of public education.
Ozigbo, who has served as Chairman of Unusual Praise, Africa’s largest Catholic gospel concert, also joined the Bishops on Sunday, August 22, 2021, when they held a Vespers/Benediction Service as part of the annual Bishop’s Conference.
At the service, held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Enugu, the Bishops held a prayer session that centred on the advancement of the gospel, progress of the Church, and unity in the country.