By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, has questioned the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigerian elections.
While advocating for an independent INEC, Archbishop Okoh added however that the situation was not hopeless if all could arise and stand for what they believed in and control the elections so that the evil minded ones would not have a field day to do evil.
The head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria described rigging as a terrible thing that undermined the integrity of any election but added that it would be very difficult to achieve a corruption free election in Nigeria and in developing nations because of how neck deep corruption was in those countries.
Okoh pointed out that even the courts that ought to uphold justice and the media that relayed information were in the hands of politicians and noted that all of those affected the integrity of the results of elections. He said if Nigerians wanted to eradicate corruption, they must work for it.
Okoh spoke at the symposium on Christians and Politics organized by the Diocese of Abuja as part of the weeklong activities for the 2018 Carnival for Christ, which was held at the Basilica of Grace Church, Gudu District, Apo Abuja.
Primate Okoh highlighted the history of politics, defining it as the normal way people decided how they would be governed. He said politics was important because it affected everyone, both old and young, and everything, including food, water and electricity.
He stressed the importance of politics, stating that everyone must show some level of interest in it to survive or live.
He said that partisan politics was good because it provided the opportunity for one to join a party that shared the same ideologies or philosophies with oneself. Hence, he encouraged all present to join a party and climb up from there.
The Primate observed that it was only in Nigeria that anybody could cross from one party to the other in a split second, without minding the ideology or philosophy or manifesto of the party.
According to him, this showed that people were actually looking for space for power rather than campaigning for ideas. Nevertheless, in spite of all the challenges embedded in politics, Primate Okoh urged all not to wait until politics became clean before they got involved, because they might wait forever.
This, according to him, was because the life could never be perfect and so politics that was managed by human beings who were not perfect could not be expected to be perfect in this world.
The Anglican Primate pointed out that the concept that politics should be free and fair was hardly possible, because all the contestants during an election could not all win; adding that the loser would feel cheated and disgruntled because of the time and money vested in the pursuit for power.
He said that politics was not easy and often times, human behaviour and desperation of politicians could upset the balance, even as he said that the masses were sometimes guilty of upsetting the balance when they expected politicians to give them money or some form of inducement before they voted for them and not because of what they could offer.
The Primate explained that once a person accepted bribe, that person had negotiated their rights and expectations and as such, should not expect anything else from that politician or turn around to complain.
He emphasized that the people who did the greatest harm to the nation were those who remained passive to politics; without registering, voting, and joining a party or campaigning for one. He said it was better to get involved and move ahead than to not do anything and then wait for the results or complain after elections.
He pointed out that the media was indispensable during elections because they let the world know what happened.
But, according to him, the weakness of the media was that it was owned by the politicians who often doctored accurate information supplied to them by journalists and reporters to suit their own selfish interests.