INTERACTIVE SESSION ON VIOLENCE-FREE ELECTIONS
Opening Remarks by Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos at the special round table/ interactive session between some top Christian and Muslim leaders, organized by the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation on a violence-free 2019 Elections, February 5th, 2019 at Novel Suites and Resorts Ltd , Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State.
The season is here again. I am talking about the political season that often elevates political blood pressure; emotions run very high and nerves are frayed, all because of impending elections.
For some, the conclusion of the elections will be the time to sing songs of victory while others will lament for their inability to clinch the coveted political prizes.
We hope that for the sake of the Nigerian project we shall all be winners whether some win and some lose.
It is heart-warming that concerned citizens like Rev. and Prof. Mrs. Gideon Para Mallam have conscientiously and pragmatically put together a programme today to address the forth coming elections with the desire and hope that the elections will take place in an atmosphere of peace, orderliness and fraternity.
This noble and commendable initiative is a call to political sanity and justice as we face the elections; sanity and justice on the part of the electorate, the electoral officials, the security agents, political leaders, actors, etc.
Brainstorming here today is part of the proactive measures like others before it to have a clearer understanding of what it means to play politics without bitterness and to avoid subterranean moves that give rise to conflicts and needless violence before, during and after elections.
At this sensitive period we must mind what we say and the actions we take. Our main concern is how politics should translate into good governance and positive social transformation; to liberate our people from the shackles of poverty, disease, insecurity and other social maladies.
Time has come for a change of mentality. Whether as winners or losers after elections, we must all join hands to build, sustain and promote the Nigerian project. We must distance ourselves from the politics of tribe, religion or “denomination”. Let our elections produce winners who are genuine performers, fair minded and willing to serve the common good rather than only partisan, sectional or selfish personal interests.
May I crave your indulgence to allow me introduce Msgr. Cletus Tanimu Gotan, a professor of education in the University of Jos and currently, the Provost, College of Education Gindiri, Vicar General Catholic Archdiocese of Jos, a veteran parish priest and administrator whom I have asked to kindly stand in for me as chair of this very important event while I take my leave after the Keynote Address by His Excellency, Stuart W. Symington, US Ambassador to Nigeria. This is to enable me recover from the jet-lag and the complications following long journeys, especially since my return from Panama in Latin America yesterday and getting straight into multiple pastoral activities.
Your Excellency, Mr. Governor,
Your Excellency, The US Ambassador,
Your Royal Highnesses,
My colleagues, religious leaders,
Beloved Rev. and Prof. Mrs. Para-Mallam, initiators of this laudable project,
Dear lovers of Nigeria and Plateau State,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish us all a fruitful and positively transforming round table discussion. May God bless all we do here today and above all, bless us with very credible and peaceful elections.