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HomeNews2023 PRESIDENCY: SHOULD RELIGION BE AN ISSUE? By Abdulrasheed Ibrahim


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The latest debate in the news is the one just initiated by Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) following the choice of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC Presidential flag bearer picking the former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima as his running mate for the 2023 Presidential election. According to Mr. Adegboruwa: “It is a terrible choice, in one million ways. !!! Nigerians, whether Muslims, Christians, Traditionalists etc, should reject APC with their votes come 2023.

A Muslim-Muslim ticket in present day Nigeria is fuel for Boko Haram, incentive for ISWAP and a call for more terrorists. Unless of course those parading the tickets are themselves complicit. There is no better way to insult our sensibilities. I pray it is not true.” What Mr. Adegboruwa doubted and prayed against as at the time of making his position known has indeed become a reality as the choice of the running mate has been confirmed in the news. My immediate response to Mr. Adegboruwa’s position was:

“But some people continue to argue that Nigeria is a Secular State. If this is true why must some lawyers bring religion into this. I am of the view that what Nigeria needs are leaders that are competent and visionary to move the country forward and not those religious chauvinists!”

This is not the first time Mr. Adegboruwa is expressing his dislike for a Muslim-Muslim ticket as a news headline was recently attributed to him saying “Muslim-Muslim ticket will amount to another Jihad”. Since Mr. Adegboruwa is entitled to his opinion, other are equally entitled to theirs without the need for the lawyer insisting that other people must follow his path. When people continue to clamour for the Muslim-Christian ticket or Christian-Muslim ticket as if it is only Muslims and Christians that matter in this country, who then will clamour for the traditionalists to lead the country?

I have said it somewhere else that it will not be a bad idea to test the traditionalists as tenants at the Aso Rock presidential villa. Who knows whether the country will progress if they are given a trial!

It is very unfortunate that some people pretend not to know what politics is all about particularly in this country. Politics in Nigeria is not about “anything goes” but about political calculation, tactic and strategy. A Politician goes into politics to map out his strategy to win an election but not to lose it.

The right of a Presidential flag bearer to choose a running mate is his choice. He makes his choice for good or for bad and must be ready to bear the consequence of his choice. It is not about dictation from those outside the game of politics. Why must I lose a sleep or develop high blood pressure over whom a politician chooses as his running mate? It is in this regards that I commend the position said to have been maintained by Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese that :

“This is what you call team selection and everybody will choose depending on what they think will give them a fair chance. So people will take responsibility for the choices they made .For me, it is not something to lose sleep over. If people feel unhappy with the kind of choices that have made, that is why we are democrats, you can’t force it .We outsiders cannot force a choice of any candidate .It is now left for you to look at the choices that have been made .And there is no guarantee that all Christians will vote for Christians and all Muslims will vote for Muslims.”

Can there be any maturity and patriotism than this? Can you spot the difference between Mr. Adegboruwa and Bishop Kukah’s positions? While the Bishop who is not a lawyer is teaching the people the right thing to do, a Senior Advocate is teaching the exact opposite. Can you remember what Sapara Williams, the first Nigerian lawyer advised members of the legal profession to live for? He said they legal practitioners should live for “the direction of the people and advancement of the country”

But we now have a situation where a lawyer who has a right to only a single vote calling on “Nigerians, whether Muslims, Christians, Traditionalists etc,” to reject a particular political party in the 2023 election. Only those who are not familiar with the history of this country from her independence will claim ignorance of how the affairs of this country have been piloted by both Muslims and Christians. After the assassination Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister in 1966, Generals Ironsi and Gowon in succession as Heads of State had Christians as their Deputies and nobody shouted on top of his or her voice. Those that succeeded them thereafter had their Deputies from the opposite religion except Buhari/Idiagbon that belong to the same faith and when they were overthrown by Babangida, he had Christian Deputies one after the other. It was during his fake transition programme that Abiola/Kingibe of Muslim-Muslim ticket were elected but were not allowed to rule by the same Babangida who annulled the June 12 Presidential election of 1993.

One of the things Babangida is being remembered for today was that he took Nigeria to the membership of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1986, but nobody will tell you that Sir Abubakar Tafawa as Prime Minister was the one that took Nigeria to the membership of World Council of Churches and International Bible Society in 1963.Where is that religious tolerance on the part of some people in this country?

Now, with all these leaders we have been having in this country and with what this country is abundantly blessed with, how many of them have turned those things to the advantages of Nigerians whether the leaders be Christians or Muslims and deputized by the other person from the other faith? When they were elected or forced their ways to power and were sworn into offices with either the Bible or Quran , how many of them follow strictly the tenets of those religions as to the qualities of good and upright leadership as stipulated in those religious scriptures? Religions has been used in the past to fly unnecessary kite of sentiment but that has not taken the country to where. Why must some people continue to use religion as scapegoat to settle irrational scores?

Tinubu is a Muslim who married a Christian wife who is a very strong member of the Redeemed Christians Church of Christ, the same church I believe Mr. Adegboruwa and Professor Osinbajo belong to. Tinubu made his wife a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the same way he has made many of his Muslims and non-Muslims followers as leaders and captains in every walks of life including the incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).With all these, some people still want us to believe that this time around he has made a wrong choice of a running mate which in the lawyer’s words is “terrible and insensitive” to them. Can there be any hypocrisy than this? I wonder why some people “no dey tire for unnecessary criticisms”! It is not surprising that some people have seen this as religious blackmail and exactitude. According to a former Chairman of NBA Ikeja and Vice President of NBA, Dr. Adekunle Ojo, SAN:

“We may never be able to extract assurances from any one on the social media. But I know that 90% of those who are raising issues about Muslim-Muslim Ticket will never vote for Tinubu even if he picks an Arch Bishop as his running mate – even if the Bishop is from Taraba, or Adamawa,or Southern Kaduna, he may never be victorious in Taraba ,or Kafanchan .They may never vote for him. For the remaining 10% they will be reassured and they will most likely show expected understanding and Jaga might at the end of the day loose 1% of such people who genuinely loved him to the extent of voting for him.

That is politics…No party except dreaming groups called parties ,will risk losing power on the basis of religious or ethnic correctness…Elections are not won on sentiment. If the section of the electorate that will enable me to win my election are Hinduists, I will choose and prefer one of them far above A Rev Father who will be a burden to my electability…Enough of religious blackmail.”

If Kashim Shettima as the choice of Tinubu has been become a nightmare for some people who are opposed to the Muslim-Muslim Ticket and urging the “Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists” to revolt against his being picked, they need to be rest assured that they have nothing to fear about. Those opponents must be referred to the endorsement already received by Shettima from the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno State. In the words of Bishop Naga Williams, the Chairman of CAN in Borno:

“In the history of Borno State, there is no Governor that has been fair to the Christian Community in this state as much as Governor Kashim Shettima. I am saying this in the presence of God Almighty and this is nothing but the truth. Governor Shettima , in the history of Borno is the only Governor that has sponsored highest number of Christians pilgrims every year since 2011.

I am speaking boldly without fear or favour because as CAN Chairman I do not receive salary or kobo from Government or any institution, but the facts need to be told. This Governor has shown compassion to the Christian Community. For example, when Gwoza people were driven from their ancestral homes, they fled to Maiduguri , and the Governor personally came to CAN Centre. In Jerusalem ward two times in June and July 2014. He gave N10 million for their upkeep at the first instance, by the victims were not many. By the end of October 2014, the IDPs from Gwoza increased to 42,000 in that camp alone. Governor Shettima came again and gave another N10 Million. He also gave additional N5 Million for non-indigenes who fled to Cameron to come back to Nigeria….”

Can any person be more compassionate than this? That “A Muslim-Muslim ticket in present day Nigeria is fuel for Boko Haram, incentive for ISWAP and a call for more terrorists…” , as being propounded by Mr. Adegboruwa is nothing but a manifestation of his hatred for Islam and Muslims. To what extent can that his argument hold water when it has been very clear that the Muslims are the most affected by the senseless atrocities being perpetrated by these terrorist groups that have become great embarrassment to Islam and Muslims. Those who do not know much about Islam and what it stands for but pretend to know will do well to research on what the likes of George Bernard Shaw, a great literary giant of his time and the great Indian lawyer and nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi both of blessed memory who took their time to study and assess Islam and came up with the positive findings. Islam cannot be judged by the bad and wicked attitude of some people who go about parading themselves as Muslims; rather you only use the teaching of Islam to judge to know who the real and true Muslims are.

We have said it severally that the activities of Boko Haram and ISWAP run contrary to the teaching of Islam. Those people are terrorists hiding under the name of religion to perpetrate their evil agenda, If they want political power, why can’t they embrace the civilized way of getting the political power? It is the duty of every serious government that worth its name that must deal with the terrorists ruthlessly and not by mere rhetoric being displayed everyday by the politicians in government.

In the coming 2023 General elections, should religion be an issue? My own answer is capital NO! When the country was being return to democracy in 1999, we had a great hope that Nigeria would be great again but unfortunately that is yet to come into reality. From OBJ to PMB, it is still the same old story. The Nigerians hope seems to have become hopeless. We have been having leaders that either came through Christian-Muslim Ticket or Muslim-Christian Ticket. The Traditionalists have never been involved in the game of leadership. Is it not the high time we give them a trial? The country’s situation has been like from frying pan to fire. We continue to have a situation where the subsequent government becoming worse than the previous one and we claim to have religious people at the helm of affairs and nothing has changed for better. The economy has been turned upside down, Federal Universities are closed down with youths being at home, the cost of living continues to sky rocket while the nation’s currency has become valueless. The solution to the problems facing the country is to have leaders that are competent and visionary. We need leaders that will be sincere to themselves and to all Nigerians regardless of tribal or religious affiliation. The leaders that will be bold enough to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians as well as will be courageous enough to deal decisively with the terrorists disturbing the rest of us. We do not want religious or tribal chauvinists that will behave otherwise. May God save Nigeria from the brainless and incompetent leaders!

NOTE: Anyone is at liberty to disagree with my above submissions as I will surely appreciate a balanced, fair and objective rebuttal.


12th July 2022

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