19 October 2010

Nigeria: Bishop Warns Against Rigging in 2011 Elections

Bishop Felix Ajakaiye of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti on Sunday warned politicians preparing for the 2011 general elections not to contemplate rigging the polls.

Ajakaiye gave the warning in his homily at a special Mass held in honour of the new governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Ado-Ekiti on Sunday.

The court of appeal on Friday declared Fayemi winner of the governorship elections and rerun, after a three-year legal struggle and was inaugurated on Saturday.

"From today onwards, it is rig-and-regret because rigging and manipulation of election by any political party is criminal and there must be sanctions for those found guilty of stealing elections to gain political power."

Ajakaiye urged the governor to be faithful to the mandate freely given to him, adding that the number one citizen should remember his good name and the training given to him by his parents.

Describing Fayemi's victory at the court of appeal as a "victory of integrity," Ajakaiye urged Ekiti people and, indeed, all Nigerians to learn lessons from the Ekiti episode. He said politics "is not a dirty game but some dirty people are in a clean game."

The bishop advised Fayemi to see himself as governor of all Ekiti, irrespective of their political and religious affiliations. He also warned the governor not to politicise his office, urging him to welcome everybody that comes to the seat of power.

"The governor's office should not be politicised; it should be open to everybody because the governor said at his swearing-in that he is for everybody and do not see your opponent as your enemy.

"Today's prisoner may be tomorrow's president and today's president may be tomorrow's prisoner. We should no longer play politics of do-or-die; let's do politics of issues and development," he said.

The bishop, commenting on the scourge of electoral fraud said the Ekiti experience showed that the politics of do-or-die would not be allowed in the country. It is now "rig-and-regret", he said.

According to him, if Nigeria were to be a normal country where the law is in force, the electoral umpire who supervised the governorship rerun poll should either resign from office or be sacked for declaring a result coming from an election believed to have been shamelessly rigged.

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