CATHOLIC Bishops under Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have advised the National Assembly members to prioritize the general interests of Nigerians above party and selfish interests.
The bishops from Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, and Osogbo Dioceses, advised in a communique after their meeting at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure, on Wednesday evening.
The communique made available to newsmen in Ibadan was jointly signed by the Province Chairman, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin, and the Secretary, Most Rev Akin Oyejola.
The clerics, who expressed their displeasures over the passage of the amended Electoral Act and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), urged the citizens to challenge the decisions of the National Assembly with all available means.
“With the National Assembly at various occasions prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians.
“Simply put, those who claim to represent the people seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of their same people.
“Indeed, the time may have come for Nigerians to no longer simply roll over and accept non-representative decisions of the assembly, but to challenge them by all legitimate means,” the Bishops said.
They said that strengthening the country’s electoral process was crucial to building a lasting and sustainable democracy.
According to the communique, the ongoing electoral reforms give another opportunity for reviving the hopes of the people and confidence in the nation’s democracy.
“An important part of electoral reform, which is often ignored, is the education of the people who participated in building democracy.
“Only participation in the political process and adherence to the rule of law offer an enduring means of authentic change, but people must be helped to understand this fact,” they said.
The bishops, however, appealed to all Nigerians not to lose hope in the possibility of a peaceful, united, and prosperous country in the nearest future.
They also urged the media and civil society groups to sustain the momentum on increased public awareness and education on the importance of political participation at all levels of governance.
“We say stand firm and never lose hope for God cannot be defeated.
“We call on Nigerians to continue to pray and work for a better nation for we have no other country than this.
“If we do not give up doing good and believing in God’s promise, we shall see better days.
“Behold, the days are coming, Yahweh declares when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country (Jer. 23:5).
“We also urge our people to register and obtain their voter’s cards; only this grants them the power to exercise their rights to determine who governs them from time to time. Our country will greatly benefit from this,” the Bishops said.