Tinubu/Kashim, religious balancing and the credibility question

The 19th century German philosopher, Karl Marx, the founder and primary theorist of Marxism, viewed religion as “the soul of soulless conditions or the opium of the people. Religion eligion in this world of exploitation is an expression of distress and at the same time it is a protest against the real distress. In other words, religion continues to survive because of oppressive social conditions. When this oppressive and exploitative condition is destroyed, religion will become unnecessary. Nigeria urgently needs to move from the old stone age thinking of voting leaders based on religion and tribe by supporting credibility to spring up the country to the developmental level where each Nigerian will cut according to his need and eat according to his want.

Marx saw religion as a form of protest by the working class for their poor economic conditions and alienation. Scholars classified Marx’s views as adhering to post-theism, a philosophical position that regards worshipping deities as an eventually obsolete, but temporarily necessary stage in humanity’s historical spiritual development. Religion in Nigeria has been very destructive since the inception of the fouth republic. The country has lost being one indivisible united nation.

The political office holders in Nigeria have failed woefully to live to their responsibilities as leaders of all and sundry while the masses/electorate have lost their consciousness to elect leaders that will put the country first. As we move towards the 2023 general elections, we should be mindful of the conflicts entrepreneurs who have been benefiting from these bigotry to destroy this artificial wall of hatred infused in us by the so-called elite using our Permanent Voters Cards in the 2023 general elections.Today, we have allowed our religion to be monetised and and made a modern political structure and empires of bourgeoisie for the exploitation of  the working class. 

However, some Nigerians have been busy for nothing since the emergence of the former Governor of Lagos state Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu as the presidential candidate of of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for the and 2023 general elections, which is akin to indolence.Tinubu’s faith has been the dominant discourse, especially by those who have lost the game either as presidential aspirants or expecting anticipating to be nominated as vice presidential candidate.The recent outburst by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon.Yakubu Dogara, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Engr. Babachir David Lawal, proved how deep Nigeria has been divded along religious lines, even though they are part of the credibility question. 

Although, some are of the opinion that a northern Christian should have been picked to balance the religious narrative of exclusion, others applaud Tinubu’s choice of former governor of Borno state Senator Kashim Shetima. At this point, campaigns should be extensive, policy and issues based on national interest rather than frivolities.The fundamental issue that should dominate the polity at this critical juncture is the resuscitation of the economy, promoting candidates who can bring an end to the general insecurity across the country, wealth and jobs creation through diversification and above all restore the unity and harmony of Nigeria as an entity alongside the Nigerian people where tribes and religion are not an issue in choosing the next president of Nigeria in 2027.

However, Farooq Kperogi said, apparently, religion “doesn’t matter” in Yorubaland only when Muslims are rendered invisible there.Then it suddenly matters when they enjoy some visibility. Even though Muslims constitute more than 50 percent of Yorubaland’s population, there will not be a single Muslim governor there after Adeleke is sworn in. I’m sure the people of Osun state who voted against their incompetent governor who happens to be a Muslim don’t care. This is a clear manifestation of a new Nigeria where our religion identities are not a question that should bother anyone as long as the credibility of the candidates is satisfactory.

The centralisation of religion in our political discourse is the main problem of our devisive tendencies, which if not addressed will sink the country into a deep mess. Tinubu himself is a typical expression of a true Nigerian. He is married to a senior pastor of a Pentecostal Church for nearly a decade and all his children are Christians. Senator Orji Kalu once said his counterpart in the Senate Senator Olurimi Tinubu is like the deputy president, and substantially he is correct. Those peddling the narrative of exclusion against Tinubu’s faith must understand how politics works in Nigeria. Dogara who acknowledged the Muslim votes and contributions that kept his political journey alive in the last 16 years should not be afraid to preach credibility of the Tinubu’s ticket rather than riding on the religious bigotry to suit his political aggrandisement. 

The credibility question should be our priority in the face of the current challenges bedeviling our country as we approach the general elections. Nigeria is battling to fix infrastructure decay, combat insecurity and separatists’ agitation. This can only be achieved through sustainable unity and improving our electoral system. It is only when we have leaders of instinct and deep thoughts to sacrifice for the country, we will never get it right.

Dogara and Lawal have the constitutional right to make their positions known but the question should be, would they have made similar objections if one of them was chosen? What if it were a Christian/Christian ticket? Has Dogara forgotten soon how same credibility kept him in the political lifeline in Dass/Tafawa Balewa/Bogoro federal Constituency? I expect him and Lawal to speak more as politicians of honour than reducing themselves to political preachers.

There is nothing like Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. The emphasis are on the credibility and capacity to deliver of those jostling for the Office of the President of Nigeria. The ongoing installation of ethnic and religious politics by some pundits who have lived and benifited from the Nigerian Project must be resisted by all and sundry. These bad  products currently being sold in our political markets will not and never lead us to glorious days. Nigerians must urgently edge out these self-centred and self glorified politicians who are using religion for personal interest, especially when they lose political battles.

Nigeria operates a multi-party democracy, apart from the ruling APC, other political parties exist to give the Nigerian voters a platform to decide their political leaders. Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Peter Obi of Labour Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP, and Prince Adewole Adeboye of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, are all standing-by as fall back position. They are all balanced tickets that represent both regions and religion balancing. Do you realise that PDP are equally in deep crisis? The political conflicts in PDP are not different from the ruling APC. If Wike’s camp would require Ayu to go to pave the way for a national chairman from the South, then region and religion will certainly decide who becomes the next president of Nigeria.

The earlier Nigerians come to terms with reality that these political parties are not religious institutions and that the Tinubus, Atikus, Obis and Kwankwasos are not representing any religion, the better for us as a people. Pastors and Imams whose summons are strictly on voting candidates based on religion and tribe, must be be rejected with all sense of responsibility.

They are equally part of the problem as many served as agents of division affecting us today. Leave Tinubu alone and weigh other options as a means of rejecting the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Unless Atiku puts his house in order, I foresee Tinubu as the next president of Nigeria if credibility and competency are tools of selling and achieving  political ambitions. 

Danaudi, National President of Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi via [email protected].

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