Paradox of A Single Faith Candidacy Writes Thomas Peretu
Bayelsa-based public commentator, Thomas Peretu writes Paradox of a single faith candidacy. This piece x-rays the choice of the APC Presidential, Bola Tinubu and the mix of religious in politics.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for all you care, may be a genie of some sort operating from outer space where the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of its citizens are distinct. Or how else does one explain the politician’s penchant for raking up sensational news at will. He seems to enjoy hogging undue spotlights for all the wrong reasons, yet, he commands cult followership to boot.
Or how much more can one go in expressing Tinubu’s disdain and insensivitivity to the nation’s cultural diversity and religious polarity? Howbeit, President Mohammadu Buhari with all his popularit kept a safe distance from a Muslim Muslim ticket in 2015 because of the obvious backlash and the injury it may inflict on our fragile democratic trjectory.
For the records, we are a country composed of varying ethnic nationalities, hence, political players are expected to adhere stricto sensu to the principles of justice, equity, fairness and the rule of law in order not to rock the boat by upholding the sanctity of its unity.
The Jagaban of Borgu and the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) has an uncanny disposition for courting controversy. He revels, I daresay, in disceptation in the course of advancing his narrow ambition. He does so with dead-earnest, and impunity, unmindful of the consequences—– either to his reputation or to his party. To him, the finer lines of decency and decorum are perceptions fit only for hypothesis, not on the field of play. That may have informed his circumvention of these ideals in preference for immediate political gratification. But this may be counterintuitive when the chips and realities down.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has unwittingly occupied the headlines in the last one month plus for all the wrong reasons. Remember his vituperations against the leadership of his party, a few days before the APC convention?
From his outburst, we knew that Tinubu had been nursing an emotional injury occasioned perhaps, inadvertently by the northern oligarchy. His uncouth remarks paint a grisly picture of a man bearing a chip on his shoulders. His actions and words gave a clue to the acidic content of his heart.
How can we forget so soon the acerbic “osubu lule” outburst, a veiled reference to President Mohammadu Buhari’s several attempts at winning the presidency before the alliance that culminated in the formation of APC. At the same event, he presumptively informed his audience “Emi lo’kan” meaning “it is my turn to be president of Nigeria”. He followed it up with the derisive reference to the Ogun State Governor who was moderating the event, “eleyi” that drama in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital that left a sore taste in the tongue. To put it mildly, the monologue was an unpresidential act.
The Jagaban had hardly recovered from that faux pas, a political misadventure no less, when Tinubu threw the nation into another round of untidy controversial gambit. As could be expected, it gave rise to new pressure points in our political conversations. This time it has to do with Tinubu’s choice of a single faith running mate better known as a Muslim-Muslim ticket. It was a gamble that did not take into cognisance the religious and ethnic diversity of the nation. Neither does it accord or upheld the sanctity of our grundnorm, the constitution. You’d recall that candidate Tinubu had been shopping for and foraging the jungles of the sahel for an ideal co-pilot who would help to actualize his electoral victory come 2023. He eventually got a soul mate from the precincts of samosa, the homestead of the nominee.
Candidate Tinubu’s choice of Senator Kashim Shettima, a Muslim by faith and former Governor of Bornu State ignited a firestorm of reactions from within and outside the All Progressives Congress. Ever since, the emergence of Shettima on the ticket the flame has continued flare and flicker from across the country. And the fire is not likely to simmer any time soon.
By Tinubu’s political permutations, there is no Christian in the north worthy of consideration. To him, many of the Christians are political feather weights. And he was not ready to take a chance or gamble with opportunity of a life time. He needed a person with political clout who hopefully will galvanise votes for the Tinubu ticket. Christians, he reasoned, are a feeble minority in the north. Therefore, Northern Christians are inconsequential in electoral victory..
Needless to say that the Muslim-Muslim ticket has without doubt provoked spirited and passionate negative reactions from different quarters including Christian bodies such as the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria PFN and the Catholic Bishops Conference and several other civil society groups in the north and elsewhere in the country.
Some Christians, within the APC household, less enthused by the shenanigan have voiced their consternation. They criticised the party for supporting injustice. One of the strongest critics of the Muslim -Muslim ticket is Babachar Lawal, a former Secretary to the Federal Government who was at the head of the panel set up to scout for Tinubu’s running mate. Though, an ally of Tinubu, Babachar Lawal thinks the choice of Shettima was a disastrous error. As a matter of fact some members of the party have either left the fold or are on their way out on account of devaluation of Christians in the political calculus of the party.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of APC, Senator Adamu Abdullahi is sanguine about the choice of Shettima. To him, it is the will of God at work adding that Christians need not exercise any fear as efforts will be made to assuage their aggrievances in due course. I am at odds as regards the will of God here. This is simply the will of man. It is ilogical to import the will of God to a purely temporal matter.
At the height of this debate, we see strenuous efforts being made by the Tinubu media cabal to rationalise the correctness of the Muslim- Muslim ticket. They opined quite crudely that the immediate concern of candidate is not about equity, justice and fairness but his burden is how to win the presidential election in 2023. That sounds absord.
Therefore, the strategy here is for winning the northern Muslim vote of 44 million votes. Besides, 11 million traditional votes often attributable to Mohammadu Buhari in the north.
According to Tinubu- Shettima media team, the Muslim north will not vote for a Christian vice presidential candidate irrespective of his popularity. They argue that single faith ticket is not strange to the country. The team observe that in 1993, Chief MKO Abiola presented Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and the heavens did not fall, despite pockets of protests. The pair went ahead to win the election. May be, that explains why Tinubu stated that the spirit of 1993 is upon us. I totally disagree with this stand point. Afterall the times have changed. Besides, there’s a remarkable difference between Abiola and Tinubu.
The team also infer that Nigerians should be more concerned about the capacity and and competence of the candidates instead of being fixated about mundane issues of religion and ethnicity. Ordinarily, on the face value, the argument sounds credible even though the premise is logically faulty.
One would have agreed with this point of view, if president Mohammadu Buhari and his APC had kept faith with their campaign promise. Unfortunately, the promised change Brough more sorrow, blood and tears. the party break the bound with the people. They distanced themselves from the plight of the citizens. The APC led administration, particularly under the watch of president Buhari mismananaged our diversity as a nation.
The President had over the years demonstrated lack of capacity to oversee the affairs of the country. At the same time, he entrenched , hegemonic tendencies, injustice, marginalisation and religious bigotry and inequity in the the nation. Although, in his inaugural speech, president Buhari stated that he does not belong to any group and that he belongs to all. Those words ended at the podium. He did translate them into policy formulation and execution.
Nigerians can attest to the fact that this government is not with the people. Political appointments are lopsided, skewed in favour of a particular section of the country. If anything, the northern Muslims were given a pride of place over and above other nationalities. Not to mention the levity with which terrorists and and killer fulani herdsmen are being treated. All these factors are responsible the trust deficit being experienced by the government. If only Nigerians were treated fairly on the basis of excellence and not on any other primordial considerations, we probably wouldn’t be discussing about religion or ethnicity as cardinal subject matters in nation building.
At no point in the political history of Nigeria have we been so divided, polarised and fractured as we are today. In fact, the government has broadened our fault lines. To add insult to injury, our economy is in shambles due largely to ineffectual management of our resources coupled with a regime of high level corruption. Need i say, insecurity has become a pandemic in our country and that implies that she is continually sliding towards disintegration and total collapse.
These salient reasons inform the latent suspicion of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Until these fears are readly are adressed, the people have a right a right to look elsewhere for salvation. It does not matter how competent and Christian friendly Shettima is, as long as he is a Muslim, Christians all over the country have an obligation to stand against the pair. And to those who tout gleebly that Tinubu issue married to against Christian and and a pastor are insulting our sense of reasoning. This is pure sophistry, that does not hold water. The country is not yet ripe for a single faith presidential ticket. We cannot afford that gamble just yet.
This is my stand.
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