By Rev. Fr Williams Kaura Abba
As you may have been aware, a group of Clergy and Laity under the aegis/umbrella of ‘Concerned clergy and Laity for good governance in Kaduna State’ has held series of meetings/consultations in the last two months. Worried by the turn of events in our dear state, this body, made up of eminent clerics from across the different denominational divide and some prominent sons and daughters of southern Kaduna have met and brainstormed on the best possible way of approaching the coming elections. The general consensus is that the state has been badly managed and our people polarised. Never in the history of Kaduna State has insecurity been so elevated to state craft and the lives of residents and visitors threatened cheaply everyday. Daily, we receive news of criminal armed bandits operating freely in Gwagwada in Chikun and Birnin Gwari local government areas. Travellers are killed in their scores and many others abducted for ransom. The Kaduna Baptist conference ended yesterday in Kujama and reports reaching us indicates that some members of the Baptist family who were on their way to the conference were kidnapped. Kidnapping has become the new normal and daily our people are traumatised.
2019 elections therefore offer us that window and the best opportunity to use the power of our thump to vote in men and women of integrity, with the fear of God and uncommon love for humanity. Taking a cue from Vademecum, the body therefore wishes that the following points be noted by all voters to ensure that the message trickles down and gets to the grassroots before the presidential and gubernatorial elections holding on the 16/2/2019 & 2/3/2019 respectively:
All those who have attained voting age and have their permanent voters cards (PVC) are encouraged to come out and vote en mass. Democracy is a game of numbers and the candidate with a simple majority carries the day. It is a civic duty and every Christian worth his name has to participate. Our youths are to be encouraged to keep an eagles’ eye on the ballot box by making sure nothing untoward happens to our votes. Vote and defend your vote!
If it requires spending the whole day at the polling unit, please do not hesitate to remain there until the votes are tallied and counted and winner declared before you may leave the polling unit. Those who are technology savvy are to use the gift of these tools to enhance credibility of the process by snapping the result sheet when it is announced and pasted. Should there be any suspicious ‘activity’ either by security forces, INEC officials or party agents, kindly take snap shots and record such incidences. A few determined youths from the polling units may even take the liberty to accompany the electoral officers to the collation centre at the local government and wait until the right thing is done and winner is declared. if need be, take some food and water to the polling unit so that you won’t need to go home when hungry. Our destiny is in our hands!
Our youths are encouraged to stay away from drugs and any such substances that may impair judgment and push them to act riotously. Youths should shun violence and resist the temptation to take the law into their hands however terrible they may have been provoked. Remember that any recorded incidence of violence may result in the cancellation of results from the polling unit. We can’t afford to let this happen. Take note that the thump is to be placed just enough within the box of the logo or party of your choice (this is to minimise incidences of invalid votes).
When the electoral officers arrive the polling unit, they must declare their assets, ie, number of ballot papers, the voters register taking into consideration, the number of registered voters in the polling unit. If the electoral officers declare materials that are more than the number of those registered at a given polling unit, raise alarm and insist that you see the electoral officer in charge at the local government. Ditto, also ballot papers that are far less than the number of those registered. Those are red flags and they constitute electoral offences and most be treated professionally. Voters must be calm and civil as they go about this.
Watch out for visitors in the polling unit who do not have any business being there. There are unconfirmed stories of mercenaries in densely populated areas. If any foreigners are sighted, our youths shouldn’t be confrontational. They should peacefully accompany them out of the area and hand them over to security forces.
In casting your vote, look out for a candidate with the following qualities:
A. A candidate who has respect for the dignity and sanctity of life (this is self explanatory).
B. A candidate who has respect for all religions and treats both Muslims and Christians equally. A candidate who has not shown disdain for our faith, people and culture.
C. A candidate who is not flippant and who has respect for the traditional and religious institutions and who is willing to tap into these respectable institutions to engender Peace and peaceful coexistence which invariably power development.
D. A candidate who has shown sensitivity to the two religions and have chosen a Christian to run on the same ticket with him (in the case of gubernatorial and presidential elections). This is the only proof we have at the onset that when elected, he/she will run an all inclusive government in a state so diverse like Kaduna.
E. A candidate who is interested in the common good. Who will take interest in alleviating the pain and suffering of the masses through deliberate policies of employment and poverty alleviation schemes across the three Senatorial districts.
F. A candidate who will govern fairly, justly and equitably.
G. If any of the gladiators seeking power meets these requirements, we urge our people to give him/her his vote. These are the indices for which good leaders are measured.
2019 election is special in many fronts for us and we must approach it with the seriousness it deserves. Our liberation or continuous slavery and suffering depends on it. Vote wisely and make sure your vote counts. Politics is too important to be left in the hands of a few politicians. Policies that deal with bread and butter are powered by them. We must all get involved and play our roles well in bringing in the kind of leaders we want at the center and the state.
May God bless us with good and credible leaders and may we all have a peaceful, free and fair elections that we will all be proud of.