The Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, has asked Nigerians to shun ethnic, religious, or political sentiments and vote for someone who is capable of tackling the perennial challenges facing the country.
Kukah, who just celebrated his 70th birthday, made the appeal during an interview on Arise TV on Friday, saying though frontline candidates are individually qualified to lead the country, it is important for Nigerians to see through them and choose wisely.
He said the electorates must interrogate the presidential candidates on their ideology, plans and governance style before making their choice.
The cleric said, “The people must interrogate their (presidential candidates) ability and capacity to govern by sheer brain and not bribe. The point is that even the whole idea of leadership is often exaggerated because we are confusing political officeholders with leaders.
“It is only in Nigeria that there is so much focus on the centre. Society can only grow when we extend the frontiers of knowledge and opportunities.
“Critical to all of these, we are looking for a president that has the understanding of the complexity of what is wrong with Nigeria. It is not just about people just aspiring without an understanding of the issues.
“My argument is that anybody who aspires to rule Nigeria and we have the opportunity to, we (Nigerians) must redesign the template of confrontation and you (presidential candidate) must be able to confront Nigerians and answer their questions.
“I am not and won’t be surprised if the candidates are moving up and down and convincing us by taking minimalist positions and telling us these and that are what they are going to do.
“I won’t also be surprised if the next president of Nigeria tells us he would tackle insecurity, increase power generation, and what have you.
“The critical question is that aspiring leaders must be subjected to a litmus test by the people. The people must ask questions like since you (presidential candidate) said you want to deal with insecurity, can we get a sense of how you want to do it and achieve success? Can you show us from your background how you will be able to do this?
“Fortunately for us, the frontline candidates have a track record and those track records must be what we must use to project the nature of the choice we have to make,” the cleric who recently celebrated his 70th birthday said.
He said it was important for the political actors, particularly the presidential candidates to listen to the young people, understand their frustrations, and align their agenda toward assuaging their grievances.
“The passion that drove people in 2015 has dissipated. The people have understood they were lied to and we have all seen the consequences of religious manipulations.
“The young people have become aware of this and they are asking the right questions. I encourage the politicians to go to the nooks and crannies of Nigerians to sell their convictions.
“The energy in this coming election is tremendous and I am excited about the energy of the young people and their attention to the country’s election.”