By Appolos Christian
The Northern Nigeria Union Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to ensure that no eligible Nigerian voter is deprived the opportunity to vote during the 2019 general elections, and that his government is created to have conducted free and fair elections.
The Church also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that election days in Nigeria are no more fixed on Saturdays or on weekends because it deprives especially its members the opportunity to exercise their voting rights, even as it stressed that all prospective eligible voters be given the chance to register and obtain voter’s card.
Pastor Freeman F. Dariya, the President, Northern Nigeria Union Conference of the Church, who made this called when he addressed journalists in company of other senior pastors at the awareness press conference of Adventist Men’ Organisation (an arm of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Nigeria), on their maiden Convention holding at Aflon Digital Academy, Kuje, FCT from Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th August, 2018 with a theme “Restoring our Dominion”, also called on the federal government to consider the common good of Nigerian people in every policy decision it makes.
Also, Pastor Yohanna Harry, the Executive Secretary, North Central Nigeria Conference of the Church, decried “We have been deprived our religious human rights in Nigeria many times. It is terrible to us. By fixing elections and exams on Saturdays, you are depriving us our right to vote. In the other part of the world and even in our neighbouring African countries, elections are not fixed on Saturdays or weekends.
“So well call on President Buhari-led government to consider our cry and be different by making sure election days are not fixed on worship days. We call on government to be liberal, truly democratic by making sure that its citizens are given freedom to vote. We are really not happy about this situation and we have high hope that this government will do something about it.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major Christian Denomination with a significant presence in Nigeria with over 278,000 population. We worship on Saturdays not for personal reasons but Biblical, which are founded in the scripture and dates back to creation (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8).
“We are being disenfranchised during elections, and we call on the Government to remove election dates from Saturdays to other days of the week. Some Countries like Mali, Ghana, Kenya and even United States of America do not hold elections on Saturdays, and this gives room for every citizen to participate during elections.
“Saturday examinations by Some Universities and Exam bodies including entrance examinations: Our children have suffered greatly in this area especially in a country where there is freedom of worship. So many of our children have been victimised in various universities in the course of defending their faith by not writing examination on Saturday.
“Some of our members have been denied good academic opportunities due to Saturday’s examination. Our Children cannot gain admission into University because of JAMB examinations on Sabbath date. We, therefore, call on the Government to put to an end examinations on Saturday since it is interfering with our religious belief.
“Adventists are law abiding and loving people who care for the environment, and promote healthy practices.”