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NIGERIA-ONAIYEKAN Jan-6-2010 (290 words) xxxi

Nigerian archbishop urges new attitudes now, free elections in 2011

By Catholic News Service

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja urged the Nigerian government to ensure free and fair elections in 2011, noting that anything less would lower the nation's standing with other countries.

Archbishop Onaiyekan, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, stressed that Nigerian leaders should understand the meaning of power. Speaking in Abuja Jan. 3, he said all Nigerians need to have a change in attitude and understand that power was meant for the service of the people and not for selfish interests.

"We need to change in the right direction. If we don't, we will continue to fumble around," he said.

"We should also decide that honesty is the best policy, which means we should stop the politics of deceiving the poor people and telling lies," Archbishop Onaiyekan said.

"We cannot do things the way we did it before and expect a different outcome," he said. "There has to be a complete change in the hearts and minds of all Nigerians."

Past Nigerian elections, federal and statewide, have been marred by vote-rigging, blackmail and excessive spending.

"Rigging elections, giving victories to those who have lost elections, changing figures up and down and recording results where no elections took place -- that is not going to carry us far," the archbishop said. "As far as we continue to deal with elections like that, we will continue to have difficulties in good governance because by their fruit we shall know them."

Archbishop Onaiyekan said that 2010 should be a time for Nigerians to pray earnestly to God for peaceful elections in 2011. He also expressed hope that the revision of the country's electoral law would be complete by the end of this year.


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