2023: The race and region of religion
In His infinite mercies, God had designed and grouped the Humankind or Human beings into races that share certain distinctive physical traits, for the ease of ethnic classification. It is this grouping that gives way to the branding of people according to common racial, national, tribal, linguistic, or cultural origins.
In Nigeria, the Hausa’s, who are predominantly domiciled in the north, are distinctively different from the Ibo’s that are dominant in the east. The Yoruba’s, the predominant tribe in the west, are also distinctively different from both the Hausa’s and the Ibo’s. But although nature has permitted the formation of Nigeria through this artificial mixture, it has not allowed the difference in race to play the pivotal in the relationship between region and religion.
As Nigeria warms up for the 2023 general elections, and all the political parties have completed their primaries, wherein presidential flag bearers were elected, an atmosphere of anxiety is hanging in the air, with regards the regions and religions of the elected presidential candidates.
Since the emergence of the Waziri of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential flag bearer of the PDP, and the eventual election of Jagaban Borgu, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu as his opposite number in the APC, political analysts and stakeholders have been busy with comments, on the kind of running mate the two leading political parties in the country must choose, in order to douse religious tension and permit for peace and unity to rein in the country. This is pushing the country to panic and palpable pressure.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has given Friday June 17, 2022 as a deadline for political parties to send the names of their Presidential candidates and running mates. Also, It has issued Friday 15 July, 2022, as the deadline for the parties to submit names of Gubernatorial candidates and their running mates.
Under the Presidential system of government, it is only the President and the governors that run under a joint ticket with running mates. The rest are legislators that run individually. As things stand today, although nature has not allowed the difference in race to play the pivotal in the relationship between region and religion, opportunism is pushing the parties to contemplate playing the politics of religion in the choice of running mates. And this is pushing the country to panic and palpable pressure.
Just weeks to the party conventions, Nigeria almost went up in flames, pursuant to the gruesome murder of Miss Deborah Samuel, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad,PBUH.
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, nearly fell victim of the cataclysm, as a voice note was mischievously released on the social media, inciting Christians to retaliate the murder of Deborah. Tension began to build, but Babachir was quick to give a rebuttal, distancing himself from the voice. The aim of course was to link religion with race, even amongst people living in the same region.
The same Babachir Lawal is still the focus of public attention, this time around on the thorny issue of the choice of presidential running mates in the country. Babachir, a chieftain of APC and a native of Adamawa state, Atiku Abubakar’s state of origin, is warning the APC against allowing a Muslim as running mate to it’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, who is also a Muslim, saying, Nigerians are still conscious of ethno-religious factors in politics.
When asked if it was time for northern Christians that are allegedly marginalised, to be placated with the nomination of one of them as Tinubu’s running mate, Lawal said,
“I will answer this question in a roundabout way. A political party is in the business of winning elections and to win elections, you need to get the votes to beat your opponents. The way I see it is that in choosing your vice-president, that must be paramount in your mind. You can have the best ticket but if you don’t win elections, it is a waste of time”.
But Kaduna state Governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, who is the first to remove the clothe of religion from the gubernatorial ticket of the state, thinks differently. When asked to react to the clamour for Christians as running mates of the leading presidential candidates for 2023, said:
“You are asking the wrong person because I don’t look at people from the lens of Muslim Muslim or Christian Christian. Most of my friends are Christians. It was Tunde Bakare, a Pentecostal pastor that invited me to CPC, not President Buhari. I don’t think the business of governance has to do with religion, I think we should look for the best person for the job, let’s look for competence, capacity. I am the wrong person to ask because in my state I looked and chose my deputy as a Christian woman. This fixation of Nigerians with religion is worrying”.
Indeed it is worrying, and the sooner we do something about it the better. Otherwise, opportunists would keep manipulating our politics, by using race, region and religion to threaten our peaceful coexistence, especially in the build up to 2023.
Sequel to another religiously volatile video that is trending on the social media, Maiwada Danmallam commented thus on his Facebook page:
“A video that has gone viral purportedly shows a Catholic priest telling members without Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to return home. The video has been shared by multiple users on Twitter, including a political activist, Rinu Oduala, who has been on the frontline for PVC enrolment. Though details remain sketchy as to where and when the incident took place, however, the cleric as seen in the footage stressed that none of the congregants should bother coming for mass without their PVC in hand”.
By implication, Maaji Maiwada Danmallam is sending a warning, that the country should be cautious, or else, opportunists would keep manipulating our politics, by using race, region and religion to threaten our peaceful coexistence.
But despite all the manipulations, no one can specifically mention the precise race or region of religion in Nigeria. Yet, we are ready to go into a ruction, because of the rifts in religions .
Ibrahim, a media advisor writes from Abuja