The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has said the general elections, scheduled for March 28 and April 11, must hold, whether the military succeeds or fails in completely ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East before that date.
The military high command had requested for six weeks to allow for a massive joint operation with neighbouring Cameroun, Chad and Niger against the terrorists, with a view to reclaiming territories so that the polls could hold in the affected areas.
The operation against the insurgents appears to have yielded positive results as more territories, notable among them Baga town, in Kukawa LG of Borno State, have been reclaimed with the military seizing quite a sizeable amount of arms and ammunitions used by the terrorists to unleash terror.
Speaking with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja at the second and third convocation of Veritas University, Onaiyekan gave his assessment of the efforts of the military against the insurgents in the first week of the requested six weeks extension.
The cleric, who is also the Chancellor of the University, said although he had no clear idea of how far the troops had gone against the insurgents, his prayers and best wishes were with them.
He, however, cautioned that there should be no reason for the elections not to hold on the rescheduled dates regardless of whether the military accomplished the task of wiping out the terrorists or not.
He said, “Unless you have more information than me, I don’t have a clear idea of how far the troops are going with regards to sweeping away the terrorists. Government said it is going to do it in six weeks; they have my prayers and best wishes. But whether they finish it or not, our elections must hold”.
Onaiyekan stated that Muslim and Christian communities in the country must join forces to promote good values among their people, adding that both religions agreed almost completely on good values.
He said, “There is a need for the two religions to mobilise people with good values and intentions for the good of the society. As you know, the job of the Church is precisely to maintain good values, not only religious value but values in general, so that human beings, people will live a life that is more in tune with peaceful and mutual coexistence.
“And you know when we talk about promoting God’s laws: God’s laws are for the good of everybody and values simply means those things which make us who we should be and who we ought to be”.