The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev. John Oyejola, has charged Nigerians to desist from selling their votes during the 2023 General Elections.
Stressing that their votes make them more powerful than politicians, the Christian cleric urged them to vote responsibly.
Bishop Oyejola spoke at the opening ceremony of the 1st Diocesan Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo slated to hold between October 2 and 8, 2022 at Our Lady and St. Kizito Pastoral Centre, Oke-Gada, Ede, Osun State, with the theme: “You Will Be My Witnesses: Faithfulness to Christ and to Apostolic Tradition (Acts 1:8).
He said what Nigeria needed was selfless leaders and urged voters to scrutinise candidates well, hold them accountable to their promises and vote them out if they act contrary to their manifestos.
Delivering homily at the Holy Mass he celebrated, Bishop Oyejola charged participants including priests, lay faithful and religious at the weeklong Synod to be free, sincere, objective and open in their deliberations and discussions at the Synod sessions.
He described the Synod “as a journey of sharing and listening, through which the Holy Spirit can speak to the people through the priests.”
He noted that, the synod is the first one in the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo and it was expected to have impact on the people of God.
“The significance of this synod is that we are making everybody, laity, clergy, religious, to know and come to that deep believe that the Church is theirs. Every baptized Christian in the Catholic Church is a disciple of Christ and Jesus is calling them to participate in His mission; mission of sharing their faith with others. So, we are challenging everybody to own the faith, go out and share the faith with other people,” he explained.
On the 62nd anniversary of the nation, the Chief Shepherd of the diocese said, “Nigeria is over 60 and by now, we should be preparing for our future generation. But by now, even the generation of now doesn’t know where they belong. So, we need to pray, no just to pray, but to work because we have been praying and we are not working. If we pray only, nothing will happen, we need to pray and work because God will not do for us, what we can do for ourselves. God will hear our prayer but we need to work.
“How do you work? From family; family should form their children so that when they become leaders in the society in the future, they will become ambassadors and good leaders in the future. And those who are leaders too should play their role. Their purpose of leading the people is to show good example. Christ was a servant-leader who came to live to the point of leaving his life for others. How do we live others by even giving our own selves.
“Selfless service is what we need in Nigeria and now that we are going to elections very soon, I beg everybody to go and register and if you have registered, get your PVC and if you have your PVC, make sure you go out to vote.
“And if you have your PVC, don’t sell your votes, your vote is your power. You have the power, the politicians are our servants, they are begging us to send them on missions. They are looking for job, that’s why they beg us for votes and when we give them assignment to do, we must make sure that they stand by it and if they don’t perform well, choke then out with your votes.”
In his address, the first bishop of the diocese who is now the Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Rev. Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, urged delegates to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, reflect together and resolve to work together.
While congratulating the diocese on the first synod, the Archbishop said, “Osogbo Diocese is at a decisive period of her existence, especially with the growth of political Islam.
“While Christians may be a minority group in the State, Catholic Church has established a cordial relationship with all religions and groups and has always enjoyed the goodwill of all. This must be built upon and enhanced. The Marian Pilgrimage Centre is a national center for renewal that embraces all people of goodwill.”