2023: Beyond religion
2023: Beyond religion
The Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), has become the major issue dominating national discourse as the 2023 general elections approach. As a secular country where there is no state religion, Nigerians believe that secularity should be adhered to in the choice of our leaders with a view to allaying the fear of domination of one religion by the other, most especially Islam and Christianity.
However, it appears exigencies, rather than strict adherence to the nation’s secularity, have guided the ruling party in the choice of its presidential candidate and most especially, its vice presidential candidate. This choice has caused apprehension among the Christians in the nation. Their apprehension is not misplaced. Muslim leaders of the country have led the nation to join the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) since the military era despite the secularity of the nation. Aside, the Islamisation campaign of Boko Haram insurgency and their menace in the country have become a major threat to the Christians’ survival.
President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s pro-Islam policies in appointments into government agencies and parastatals and his soft spot for herdsmen have given fillip to the fear of Islamisation agenda. Floating a Muslim-Muslim ticket in this circumstance should make Christians to be threatened as a matter of fact.
Nonetheless, my opinion is that the outcry over the Muslim-Muslim ticket should not be that deafening, considering the plurality of choice before Nigerians. However, some factors make the situation to be so. Firstly, many Christians like to vote for the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. However, his choice of the vice did not go down well with them. Secondly, being the ruling party, the power of incumbency is potent in determining the winner of an election in a third world country like ours. Therefore, many Nigerians found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea as regards next year’s presidential election.
In my opinion, I think Nigerians have a long way to go if religion and ethnicity are the determinant factors in our choice of leaders. To me, what should be at front burner of our discussion is the state of our nation. Is the nation on the right path or not? How far has the ruling party gone in fulfilling its campaign promises to the people? President Buhari’s campaign promises centered on fight against corruption, fight against all forms of insecurity and economic development.
Eight years down the line, has Buhari administration delivered on these promises? Is Boko-Haram insurgency tamed? The question is no. If with his experience as a retired General in the Nigerian army he cannot secure the country, who else can do? To be fair to him, he inherited Boko Haram insurgency; however, his failure to tackle the menace has allowed the problem to fetter with the infiltration of ISWAP into the country.
In addition, bandits have seized large portions of land in the Middle Belt with its nefarious activities while kidnapping, jailbreak as exemplified by Kuje jailbreak in July and kidnapping for huge ransom etc are on the increase with Nigerian security apparatus helpless. A Catholic church was attacked by yet to be known assailants in Owo, Ondo State few months ago massacring about 30 worshipers while many were injured in daylight. As I am writing this piece, many Christians no longer attend church services for fear of attack from bandits while churches organise security for themselves during quick Sunday services.
In the economic sphere, can we say the ruling government has fared better? In spite of being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria is regarded as poverty capital in the world under this administration. Prices of goods and services have skyrocketed. Value of naira to other world currencies is nothing to write home about. Production is at low ebb due to frequent collapse of national grid, agricultural practices have been adversely affected by herders/ farmers clash. Education is comatose due to ASUU strike for over five months with government looking the other way. One of the areas the government fared better is infrastructure. Many roads have been fixed while huge efforts are made on railways development. However, insecurity has made this breakthrough of less significance because these infrastructures cannot be used optimally in view of the menace of the bandits and ally anti-social elements. The question that should come to the minds of all discerning Nigerians is that should the status quo be maintained or we do away with the ruling party over its failure to turn things around for the better? Your guess is as good as mine.
Nonetheless, Nigeria is in a quagmire as far as the future, especially 2023 and beyond are concerned. The hope of doing away with the past, if the truth must be told in the circumstance the nation finds itself as regards the crops of presidential candidates the leading parties foisted on the nation is as futile as hunting for a snowflake in an active blast furnace. This is because they are parts of the past or status quo we want to do away with! Peter Obi is a key player in the Peoples Democratic Party and served as governor in Anambra state. He cannot be exonerated from the woes the maladministration of his party brought on this nation. Alhaji Atiku Abubabakar, a former vice president of the country has the requisite experience having spent eight years as the vice president but the government he co-headed missed a golden opportunity to chart a new course for the nation after years in the wilderness. He is part of the ancient regime. .Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a better alternative because of his strict adherence to principles, tenacity of purpose, bridge building capacity and administrative skills. His achievements as Lagos state governor are plus for his ambition. I pity Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu because he finds himself in a dire situation. He is the only one that can be exonerated from the crops of failed leaders that threw Nigeria into the abyss. He has never belonged to any party at the centre save the present administration. Still, the president circumvents him from the day one. His confession at Abeokuta confirms him as a tenant in the house he built. President Muhammdu Buhari’s declaration in his inaugural address that he belongs to everybody and not to somebody, clandestinely directed at Tinubu and Tinubu confession at Abeokuta that he has never benefitted personally from Buhari administration confirmed him as a tenant in the house he helped built. However, the Muslim-Muslim ticket with which he is going into the contest is a minus for his ambition. This is because he has alienated the Christians in Nigeria. Whether Nigerians would think the way I do is another issue.
In sum, the state of the nation, rather than religion affiliation of our candidates should be the yardstick for choosing our leader.
Adegbite sends this piece from Ogbomoso via firstname.lastname@example.org