The tensed political climate in Nigeria, laced with deep suspicion pervading the society has continued to instill fear, even begging the question, whether Nigeria would remain as an indivisible entity going by the spate of challenges besetting the country, in many fronts. On this column also, The Catholic Herald Weekly Newspaper had consistently written about some of those problems which include, religion and ethnicity, considered today as the greatest bane of the society which has led to killings of innocent people, without provocation.
The fear of Fulanisation and the continued terror attacks almost everywhere, including places of worship have left tongues wagging. Everyone is confused, and the government itself. Under this prevailing atmosphere, the two dominant religions, Christianity and Islam, and their adherents now live in deep seated mutual suspicion of each other. This has also crept into the body politics of Nigeria since the political leaders have done practically nothing to address the issues threatening the fabrics of the society. In fact, the majority of Nigerians believe that the killings, which have become a daily ritual are politically motivated since nobody has been brought to account for these heinous crimes.
Argument for and against have continued to resonate from different quarters concerning who the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) should field as their running mates. While PDP has settled for Muslim-Christian ticket, the APC is yet to come to terms with the running mate of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the party’s standard-bearer for next year’s general elections. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) therefore warned against “the weaponisation of religious difference in the recent past as never before are a cause for concern and a sufficient reason for those of us who do not want this nation to go into avoidable crises to cry out now. It would amount to total disrespect for diverse religious communities in the country for any party to go ahead to foist a single religious ticket in a plural country with visible threats and religious extremism that can be perceived everywhere.”
In a joint statement issued by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Department of Church and Society and Pastoral Affairs, the body noted that the Nigerian state today seems to be on the brink of collapse. It affirmed that there are hostilities and conflicts of different sizes and magnitude everywhere, adding that each new day brings with it several bad news: Sporadic attacks, kidnapping, abductions, displacement of people from their ancestral homes, killing and maiming and a host of other vices happening across the length and breadth of the country. While admonishing all Christians to ensure they participate in the forth coming general elections, the religious body indeed acknowledged that, the country needs a clear departure from where she is today, if we must make progress.
Other concerned citizens have also advised that, the Abiola experience of 1993 whereby a Muslim-Muslim ticket at that time won elections cannot be replicated now. The reason they advanced is that 29 years ago when that election took place is different from Nigeria of today that is highly polarized along tribal, ethno-religious lines. Before now, the likes of Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), severally raised the alarm, whereby the indigenous people of Nigeria were called upon to defend their lands from the invaders that have caused havoc in many parts of the country, especially in the Middle Belt region. It is true that both Christians and Muslims can produce qualified people from different parts of the country that can govern this country, but the fact still remains that the secular nature of Nigeria should be taken into consideration, otherwise it would amount to mockery of the Federal Character provision that talks about even representation at the national level.
Those who are pushing for same faith ticket for the presidential aspirants and their deputies, unknown to them are deepening the already existing division between the two major religions in the country, unfortunately. As it stands, the country cannot afford further division, either in her body polity or in the religious circle, if we must have free and fair elections next year. We therefore call on all political parties, especially the presidential torchbearers of the APC and the Labour Party to ensure that issues of religion are taken very seriously, in the search for their running mates.
The country has suffered untold hardship in view of terror attacks of unimaginable proportions, occasioned by those who say that the country belongs to them. The inability of government to punish these people adequately, with measure of equal proportions they unleashed on innocent Nigerians all these years, speaks volumes, unfortunately, on how criminality is fought in this country. We don’t want same faith presidential ticket here, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, which Nigeria has been grappling with for many years!