Hard Talk: Countdown To Election: When An Adventist Kicks…

Hard Talk: <strong>Countdown To Election: When An Adventist Kicks…</strong>

January 12 should have gone down like any other day but for the unusual news that filtered in that one member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church had dragged the Federal Government before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, for an order to stop the conduct of the 2023 general elections and examinations on Saturdays.

 No one can tell why this man who is an elder of the Church, Mr Ugochukwu Uchenwa, was just jolted from a deep slumber to approach the court that the election fixed for Saturday, February 25 infringes on their freedom of worship. One or two pertinent questions may continue to dog this rare audacity and eccentric affront of this ardent follower of the Adventist Mission.

Is he just interested in making the news headlines? Why is it taking this long for him to realise that Saturday has been symbolic as Election Day? Should group or sectional interest supersede national interest?

I could not but agree any less with one casual comment by one ‘ordinary’ citizen who said Nigeria’s major natural disaster is not Tsunami nor wildfire but a combination of man-made disasters encapsulated in religious and ethnic chauvinism. This postulation gave me food for thought, particularly that these twin issues he mentioned are matters of the mind. Once the mind is altered and one becomes dogmatic, it turns out to be a difficult place to change. It is worrisome that we are so religious that we forget our humanity which should be embodied in our piety.   

Mr. Uchenwa urged the court to declare as unconstitutional for voting and examinations to be held on Saturdays and in the alternative other days within the week should be adopted for the same purposes.

 Curiously, the defendants in the suit ; President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Minister of Internal Affairs, Joint Admission and Matriculation Examinations, JAMB, National Examination Council, NECO, West African Examination Council, WAEC, and National Business and Technical Examination Board, NABTEB who were defendants did not show appearance when the matter was mentioned in Court, a move suggesting that the government may not be seeing the matter as having any legal substance to alter the elections which countdown is running out.

It was reported that the judge adjourned the case to March 15, 2023 for hearing notwithstanding the absence of the defendants. By that time, the two elections would have been held, they include the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly, February 25, and the Governorship & State Houses of Assembly on March 11, 2023.

For several decades, since yours sincerely became conscious to know what an election is all about, Saturdays have been days for elections except where for certain exigencies they are shifted.

It is indeed outrageous that we often draw attention to the least of issues that bother us as a nation. Are the Seventh Day adherents the only religious sect that worships on Saturday? Why then are they becoming agitated at a time when preparations for the elections have got to a head? The list of religious groups who are ‘Sabbath inclined’ is long and Seventh Day Adventist cannot be said to be speaking for all of them. Besides, it is pertinent to ask what percentage of all the ‘Sabatharians’ put together constitute the nation’s electorate. I appealed to the group to sheathe their swords as their demand would be looked into subsequently after all; they are an integral part of the country.

There are more germane issues that should challenge our collective will this time. One very critical one is getting the right persons voted in coming elections to save us from the doldrums that are inevitable should we get it wrong.

The concern being raised in some quarters that the scheduled elections may hit the rocks given the spate of insecurity issues across the country is not something to gloss over as irrelevant. We must urge all security agencies and political leaders to be at their best to stifle all attempts to take us to the brinks politically. 

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