Religion does not make a difference where competence, capability, capacity, brilliance and right policies are required to govern a country.
In every religion, there are wise men and there are competent people with the right policies.
Nigeria is hoped to be one day, above religious politics. The country is bedevilled and held back by the clandestine push for religious hegemony. Religion is often a part of the indices of choosing leaders and in governance.
In a country of multiple religions, and ethnic nationalities with varied languages, it is important that inclusivity becomes paramount. No ethnic group or religion is bereft of competent people.
The feeling of inclusion tames any frayed feelings of exclusion which often dovetails to marginalisation, discomfort and emotional disconnect in any pursuit of nation building.
In 1993, Chief MKO Abiola, ran on Muslim – Muslim ticket and among other issues that led to the annulment of the election, even though Nigerians weren’t that sensitive to the ticket at the time but it didn’t meet the question of religious inclusion.
In 2015, Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his deputy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ran on Muslim – Muslim ticket. He canvassed for votes based on competence but throughout his administration, Kaduna state especially the Christian dominated Southern Kaduna had been riddled with so many killings and insecurity.
“I don’t think the business of governance has anything to do with religion. I think we should look for the best person for the job. A person that will get the job done and let him do that.” El-Rufai said.
Such an argument as held by El-Rufai is erudite but, while he has tested a Muslim – Muslim government, the best person is not found only in Islam.
In 2022, the Kaduna APC again fielded a Muslim – Muslim ticket in total disregard for the Christian and other religions in the state. In fact, the deputy governorship candidate is the incumbent deputy governor. Does it mean that in the whole Christian or traditional religion communities of the state, there is no best person for the job?
It is obvious that in Kaduna, the APC choosing a Muslim – Muslim ticket is a consolidation of the idea and enthroning the domination of the Muslim faith if the ticket wins.
In a state where Muslims and Christians share a considerable population, one faith should not tower above others. Some may argue about other states where there are Christian – Christian governments, in those states, Christians are predominant unlike a Kaduna state that has an approximate number of the Christians and Muslims.
As viewed of the success of the religious hegemony in Kaduna state, the APC has yet again presented the country with a Muslim – Muslim ticket for the office of the president and vice president. This time, they claim it is political sagacity and chase after votes as Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is a Muslim south, required a strong Muslim north to garner votes. If this ticket succeeds on a national level, the people of other religious faiths may no longer be able to seek the office of the president and the idea may be replicated.
Under the Buhari administration, the Muslim faith dominated. The three arms of government under APC are headed by the Muslim faith. The service chiefs are dominated by the Muslim faith and many agencies that may be critical for scrutiny.
While the APC party pursues the hegemony of Islam, they have left governance to be overcome by terror and insecurity as well as poverty. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), about 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor.
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Abdulmutallab Mohammed Auwal, an Islamic preacher in Jihad Watch, “charged Muslims to consider the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Muslim/Muslim ticket as a call to Jihad.” He said, “Clerics and indeed all Muslim leaders know that the Muslim/Muslim ticket is not about mere promises of bringing dividends of democracy like road and infrastructure. This ticket is about the supremacy of Islam. This ticket has honoured Islam. Therefore, we’ll honour it with our ballots.”
To the Muslims – although some have not supported the idea of Muslim – Muslim administration, the cleric has said with APC furthering such same faith candidature is not to improve the lives of people but simply to engage in supremacy that may actualise what many think may be mere statement; the Islamisation of Nigerians.
The Open Doors World Watch List 2023 tracked the period from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022. Their report states that, “out of the total of 5,621 Christians killed for their faith during the reporting period, Nigeria recorded 5,014…violence against Christians is most extreme in Nigeria where militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery.” These happen while “Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
The APC has not clearly shown competence and with President Buhari, a Muslim, under whom the country experienced hardships, killings, poverty and hunger. In addition to that, the APC neglecting balancing religion and inclusiveness and the Peoples Democratic Party fielding a Muslim presidential candidate, such that if any of the party wins, will enthrone the hegemony of Muslim religion.