The Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Enugu State, has been commended for initiating town-hall meetings where contestants from various political parties interact with electorate in a controlled environment.
Barr Hyginus Ugwu, the House of Representatives candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance for Udenu/Igboeze North Federal Constituency in the 2023 general elections, stated this on Sunday while interacting with newsmen at Ezimo.
Our correspondent reports that the town hall is an initiation of the political enlightenment desk of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the diocese. The maiden meeting held weekend at St Jacob’s Catholic Church, Orba, in Udenu LGA with contestants for State House of Assembly and those of the House of Representatives for Udenu/Igboeze North Federal Constituency taking the stage.
In a reaction, Barr Ugwu commended the church for the sensitization.
According to him, “It is a good development in our democracy. But the result will determine the credibility of the meetings. If everybody will be given a level playing field, the initiative is therefore very excellent. But if Candidate A is treated differently from Candidate B, that is when the project will be questioned.
“In all, I think it is the failure of the Christian Association of Nigeria to do the right thing that the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka has come to fill the void. Because contestants come from different religious backgrounds, some can raise grudges. But, like I said, the genuineness of the scheme will be determined by the sincerity of the purpose. One would suspect insincerity when opinions of the electorate are being aggregated for ulterior motives.
“But I want the church to focus more on sensitising the electorate to resist vote buying and manipulations. If church can talk to their members and let them know that vote buying is not good, it is okay. Not only the Catholic Church, other faith-based organisations and groups under any guise can emulate this type of sensitisation. So, in addition, let there be a session for credible election advocacy because politicians can, because of poverty, redirect voters’ good hearts. This request is with regards to the emerging modern vote-buying of asking voters to submit their NINs, BVNs, PVC numbers, account numbers and so on.”
Our correspondent reported that the meetings will involve all the local government areas in Enugu North senatorial zone of the state. The breakdown shows that the meeting for the House of Assembly and House of Representatives contestants for Udenu LGA began on Saturday (Eke), 3rd December 2022 at St Jacob’s, Orba. That of Igboeze South LGA holds on Thursday (Eke), 15th December at St Mary’s, Ibagwa-Aka, while 12th January, 2023 will be the turn of Isi-Uzo LGA at St Theresa’s, Ikem.
Saturday (Afor), 14th January, is for contestants of Igboeze North LGA, and holds at St Mary’s, Ogrute, while contestants in Nsukka LGA will have the floor on Thursday (Nkwo), 19th January at St Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka. Saturday (Orie), 21st January 2023, will be the turn of Igbo-Etiti LGA, and holds at St Gregory, Aku, while the train moves to Uzo-Uwani on Saturday (Eke), 28th January 2023, and holds at Sacred Heart, Nkpologu.
Our correspondent gathered that the town-hall meeting involving candidates for Senate and governorship holds on Saturday (Nkwo), 4th February, at St Theresa’s Cathedral, Nsukka.
The head of the public enlightenment unit of Justice, Development and Peace Commission of the diocese, Rev Fr Dr Emeka Ngwoke, said the enlightenment was to create political consciousness among the populace: “Political enlightenment in the diocese is a big business. It is civic education. A populace that is ignorant about how a society functions is dangerous. Some of us wear the barge of political apathy as honour. Even some educated ones do nothing to solve societal problems, and they proudly declare their political apathy.”
JDPC is a structural response to the Second Vatican Council Appealing for the church’s involvement in the affairs and development of the society. It is geared toward a positive change in the human condition, such as poverty, religious bigotry, election malpractices, diseases and injustice.