Enugu Professionals have challenged religious leaders in the state to make public their stand on the ongoing political situation, especially regarding the outcome of the last governorship election.
This was contained in a statement released on Sunday, 21 May 2023, signed by the Alliance of Enugu State Professionals (AESP) president, Engineer Simon-Peter Nwobodo, and the publicity secretary, Barrister Matthew Eze.
“We are unable to understand why our revered bishops and priests can constantly grab national headlines for justifiably criticising the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for injustice but keep mute over gross and conspicuous injustice in Enugu State by a few elements,” part of the statement read.
“Truly, our state has been under immense siege since March 18 when the governorship election was conducted.
“A vicious cabal has decided to toy with the destiny of a great people by colluding with extremely corrupt elements in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to thwart the will of the people.”
The professionals asked some well-known senior clerics in the state to declare their stand on the official result of the election which has made Peter Mbah of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the governor-elect.
The senior clerics mentioned in the statement include the Anglican Archbishop of the Enugu Diocese, Most Reverend Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma; the Catholic Bishop of the Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev Professor Godfrey Onah; the Catholic Bishop of the Enugu Diocese, Most Rev Dr Callistus Onaga; as well as the immediate past Vicar General of the Enugu Catholic Diocese, Monsignor Professor Obiora Ike, who is now Executive Director of the World Ethics Project Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
Others are Rev Fr Christopher Okechukwu, the parish priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Haven, Enugu; Rev Fr Ralph Chukwu of the Immaculate Heart Church, Ogbete in Enugu; and Rev Fr Celestine Nwogbu of the Assumption Parish, Nkwo Nike in Enugu.
“These are some of the religious leaders in Nigeria who have over the decades become the conscience of Nigerian society through their fearless criticisms of the Federal Government for corruption, oppression and other forms of social injustice,” noted the professionals who argued that these leaders cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what termed as “rot in their home state.”
They called the attention of the religious leaders to the Scriptures where it is written in Matthew 7: 5 that “you cannot remove the log in your eyes but see the speck in the eye of another person. Charity must begin at home.”
Further justifying their call on the religious leaders to speak up on the political situation in the state, the professionals noted that “Enugu is not just a state in Nigeria or the capital of the Southeast but the headquarters of the old Eastern Nigerian Region which has now been broken into nine states bestriding the South-south and the Southeast geopolitical zones.
“What is more, Eastern Nigeria is the bastion of Christianity in the country, and should be driven by such Christain values as justice, courage, truth, honesty, and solidarity”.
The AESP said a situation where both the National Youth Service Corps Director General, Brigadier General Yushua’u Ahmed, and the Director of Certification, Alhaji Ibrahim A. Muhammadu, have separately repudiated the NYSC Discharge Certificate paraded by the PDP candidate is unprecedented in the state’s history.
“This is a grave moral and criminal burden on the PDP and its candidate,” they emphasised.
The AESP also said that the PDP could not have scored 31,000 votes in Enugu East Local Government Area, the home LGA of its governorship candidate, in the gubernatorial election.
“Even INEC officials, collaborating with the PDP candidate in rigging the election, were so rattled by the figure that they unilaterally reduced the number of votes to a little over 15,000—enough to give him a so-called victory–and announced the reduction officially at a press conference in Enugu on March 22, 2023”, it recalled.
It said religious leaders and other stakeholders have “a moral duty to rescue our state from the jaws of human barracudas, sharks, and boa constrictors”.