“If you want to get a Black African to surrender his critical thinking ability, introduce religion”.
This excerpt from a popular writer best justifies the course of this writing. I am sorry to say.
One nauseating fact about our people is their inability to think without religious appeal. No wonder, this same religion has become the potent tool employed by these political jobbers to manipulate and polarise our people for their interests. As the general election approaches, many people still grumble and criticise this issue as it is the reason they would not consider the APC Presidential flagbearer, Bola Tinubu.
Merely observing the socio-political and economic happenings in Nigeria under Buhari’s administration, coupled with his nonchalance and insensitivity in addressing critical issues affecting the nation at large, one would begin to ask how a dormant leader like him became the President.
Isn’t he the people’s mandate then? Of course, he is. But how could Nigerians who voted for him not scrutinize his incompetency and smelt the bad omen on him? Why had we not probed his messiahship to know whether it was authenticated or not?
The answer is not far-fetched: our people don’t think. Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts. It is the training of the mind to think”.
Buhari had earlier been a regular candidate at Presidential polls in the defunct political party; Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), until the APC was formed from four major political mergers in 2013.
Similar to this joint ticket issue, Buhari secured a large number of votes down the whole south through his joint ticket and vice presidential candidate, ‘Pastor Osinbajo’. The religious title -Pastor- was what cajoled the majority of the Southerners.
‘Pastor’ Yemi Osinbajo’s emergence into the political mainstream was not coincidental. It was premeditation and political calculation that happened when Bola Tinubu, the current All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential flagbearer, forwarded names to the Party Secretariat in Abuja [because the zonal party leaders had earlier agreed amicably, that the vice presidential ticket should come from the south west] Tinubu forwarded three names which are: himself, his protege -Raji Fashola- and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
However, after a thorough screening of this personnel, the Party leadership settled for Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, mainly because he’s a top cleric in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which is the largest church in not just Nigeria but the entire West Africa.
Also, in an attempt to submerge the Jonathan ticket “that has been wooing the Christian constituency through serial pilgrimages and subtle elevation of the status of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria to a virtual Presidential Adviser’s position”.
Even Tinubu himself agreed that Osinbajo’s choice would be the best to reshape the Southerners’ mentality about Buhari; who is believed to be ethnically and religiously intolerant, and a core Fulani fanatic.
There is no doubt that Osinbajo is the most significant political sell-out in Nigeria used to marginalize the votes of the Christians. Osinbajo’s joint ticket was what excited our Southern Christian people, who actually thought sanity would be restored to the country under the APC government, especially when they now have a pastor at the helm of affairs.
Surprisingly, after the APC won the general election in 2015, the title ‘Pastor’ was deserted from the public and was changed to its previous and current [Prof].
Now, owing to these scenarios, my questions are: is Osinbajo able to perform in the government as expected? Did he truly protect the rights and plight of the Christians? Was his religious title able to solve issues and enforce political miracles?
Contrary to our expectations, the office of the vice president in Nigeria is nothing but mere executive assistant to the President. The power and responsibilities conferred to it by the Constitution are very minimal unless some are delegated to his office by the President. The office of the vice is never a match for that of the President. It is not a position where some faction of people in the country can project to balance governance and the seat of power.
Moreover, The office could have functioned to some extent, but at the time, Osinbajo was nothing but a ‘figurehead’. Buhari won the election in 2015 and overran the administration with his Fulani/Hausa loyalists from his former political party, breaching the agreements with his allies, and the other political mergers that led to the party coalition in 2013, especially with the aid of the Late Abba Kyari.
Now, let’s get back to business. Choosing Senator Kashim Shettima should not be a face-off deal for the Christians.
We need to know that the first target of a political party is to win elections. That’s what comes first for any party that is serious about being in government. Therefore, a party would not only settle for whether a candidate is competent but his charismatics and political capacity to win an election. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a minority Muslim from the southwest. The election would not be favourable for him if he should pick a minority Muslim from the North.
Tinubu’s choice for Shettima is not a slap on Christians’ faces like we thought. It is a grand-political move to jeopardize Atiku Abubakar’s chances from his home state, Adamawa, a brother/border to Borno, Shettima’s home state in the North East.
Tinubu’s choice of Shettima is not in any way conspiratorial, it is solely political. He is a Muslim from the south, and he would understand the plights of Christians especially when her immediate wife is a Christian. Senator Kashim Shettima is also a leader who has proven unity despite religious differences through his benevolence to the Christian communities in Borno state.
Rebuilding burnt churches by the Boko Haram insurgents, sponsoring hundreds of Christians on pilgrimages during his administration and paying listening ears to Christians’ grievances. All these are without a doubt while the Christian communities in Borno state endorsed him despite his controversies here in the south.
Another fear is that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is a grand conspirational move to Islamise Nigerians. However, according to the 1999 Constitution, Nigeria is a secular state. And if this is to be changed; ‘Islamising Nigerians’, it would require a 2/3 majority of the National Assembly.
Good governance should be Nigerians’ priority and not religion-based governance. I have, however, realized that emotions attached to one’s faith cannot be extricated from one’s psychology. Nevertheless, it should be minimized.
Obebe Michael Damilola, a student of English and literary studies, is a creative writer and political enthusiast. He can be reached via email@example.com
Editorial: This article was minimally edited to preserve the author’s intent.