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Bishop's Message/Blog

For love to the polls
Nigerians yearn for a new nation

Beloved Children of the Father, Brethren of Jesus the only begotten Son, companions of the Holy Spirit, Peace be upon you all. The month of February is notable for the celebration of Love all over the world, particularly because Valentine’s Day offers this opportunity. The season of Lent begins in the month of February and it is quite significant when this is the case. The perfect demonstration of the Father’s love for His children is giving His beloved Son, Jesus, for the redemption of humanity. It sets our vision clear, that our response to the love of God has shown us, is to love Him in return, not simply impulsive but as the best response only arising from our depths. The love of God and our love for God are paramount. The next direction is the love for neighbour; Love makes us equals. The year 2023 is another electioneering year in the history of our country, scheduled to happen in the same month as the celebration of love. I like to recall some philosophers and political writers who have said that love, which honours dignity, neighbourliness and mutual respect, is the ‘motive power’ of democracy. This motive, propelled by love, defines our allegiance to the community of humankind and shapes our understanding that the first principle of practical thought must respect the equal worth of all members of that community. Aristotle is famous for saying that man is a political animal (being). It will be incomplete to think that he only means that man is simply and naturally made to live in a society.

However, it also means that man certainly requests to lead a political life and play an active part in the life of the political community. Every person (according to the law) should be able to make his / her thoughts and will felt in political matters of their country. This is the right of all civic persons and therein lies the foundation of a true political democracy. Everyone who within the stipulated law is eligible to vote should exercise that right to elect credible, well-meaning and decent men and women whom we will be proud to call our leaders. We go to the polls realising that from the beginning of our lives to the end, we are linked to everyone else who lives; we need communion and friendship, relationship and communities where people care for one another, and support one another. We need a country where opportunities abound for progressive minds to flourish, basic amenities, and infrastructure are not in want to ease daily living, especially for the weak and vulnerable, and the security of life and property is guaranteed. By feeling the pulse of the citizenry, Nigerians yearn for a new Nigeria and it is achievable. Looking at the moments leading up to the campaigns and the campaigns themselves, we clearly see a shift from the old normal. Everyone should sustain this momentum and let us do the needful. This time around, our votes must count in contributing to a greater and more refined Nigeria. It will do us a lot of good to remember that the only way by which evil triumphs is to stop doing good; it is not just enough to avoid evil but to put it in more positive terms and be proactive, doing good is the only way by which evil is conquered.

Voting for leaders who understand these dynamics to emphasise political unity based on the commitment to the common good, rather than cultural, religious, or ethnic homogeneity is crucial. What is at the root of such an idea? It is the recognition of the fact that all of us belong to one Race (the Human Race), to one fellowship (since the love of God has been poured into the hearts of every person who has ever lived; Rom 5:5) hence, the common good is greater than our affiliations to ethnicity and religion. We have to key into the bigger picture and cast off the cultural, religious and ethnic blinders, realising that our votes are not cast in the favour of a section of the country, but the entire land and space called Nigeria. Leaders who will light up the hopes of many distressed Nigerians and put Nigeria on the international table of respect and decency are what we need. Voting for such men and women is a good act for the country. Please do it. One thing that distinguishes us as Christians is our hope; our hope in God who is love (I John 4:8) with whom all things are possible and whose power is made manifest in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). We lay it all in His hands and our country shall be well.

• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.



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