Criticizes South-South and South East traditional rulers for endorsing Jonathan for 2015 presidential poll
A pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has charged traditional and religious leaders to stay out of partisan politics associated with the 2015 general elections in the country, if they wished to preserve the respect usually accorded their offices in the society.
The group also frowned at what it described as ‘insensitive’ and ‘heartless pursuit’ of material and pecuniary benefits by traditional rulers, saying it was responsible for their recent political activities to drum up support for President Goodluck Jonathan “who is easily seen as the person with the overwhelming control of the nation’s resources by virtue of his power of incumbency.”
Some traditional monarchs from the South South and South East geo-political zones of the country met recently in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, where they endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2015 presidential election.
According to a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the involvement of these traditional rulers in open partisan campaign for Mr. Jonathan was immoral, unconstitutional and wrong-headed.
It noted that the recent over-bearing influence and political activities of traditional rulers including the reported endorsement by South East and South South traditional rulers of the president for second term in the 2015 presidential poll, was “a grave disservice to the revered traditional institution because custodians of the nation’s sacred values and cultural authorities ought and must remain objective; politically neutral and live above board since all political actors from diverse political platforms are also members of the various Nigerian communities.”
The group also said that the widely reported endorsement of Mr. Jonathan by the traditional rulers had not only rubbished the public image of the customary institution in the eyes of members of the civilized public globally, but was also responsible for the heightening of social discord and the constant heating up of the polity which leads to exacerbation of civil strife.
The Rights group said, “Traditional rulers ought to be promoters of peace and harmony in the society rather than rent themselves and their offices out to the highest pay master for political assignment to the detriment of both the nation and the laws of the country.
“We are ashamed at the shameless political tendencies of elders who hold the sacred offices of traditional and natural rulers of various ethnic cum religious communities especially traditional rulers from South South and South East regions who have jumped the gun and joined the acrimonious bandwagon of partisan and sectional politics by openly endorsing President Jonathan to run for office as if they have the all-encompassing sovereign power to deprive other sons and daughters of their communities from seeking same office in 2015.
“Traditional rulers must show greater restraint. Religious leaders must also become good spiritual leaders rather than convert themselves into political brigands and jobbers for the highest bidder. The disgrace and opprobrium these traditional rulers now engaged in open politics bring to their communities are unprecedented, shameful, reprehensible and despicable”.
HURIWA also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, “to wake up from operational slumber and caution these traditional rulers from kick-starting political campaign for President Jonathan for the 2015 election clearly two years away which is a breach of the electoral Act.”
The group also faulted the use of public fund by all political office holders of all political affiliations to further and promote partisan interest of their political parties towards the 2015 elections.
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