That Obasanjo Advice On Single Faith Ticket BY Nasiru Suwaid
“Nigeria cannot at this stage raise the specter and fear of Islamization or Christianization. The idea of proselytization in any form is a grave danger that must not be contemplated by any serious-minded politician at this delicate situation in Nigeria, as this time is different from any other time (in Nigeria’s history). -Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Love him or hate him, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been and remained a constant feature and phenomenon in our governmental system, since immediately after independence of the country and with the demise of the first republic, it is he who has had the luck of participating in the formation and operation of every administration after the first military coup in Nigeria. One constant habitual fixture of him is the ability to spot those whom fate might smile on in the future and the incredibly grace to openly disagree with any government that made policy or policies he dislikes. It is said that he is perhaps the only person in Nigeria, who had disagreed with every leadership that ever ruled this country, be they civilian democratic one or the draconian military regime. Thus you would expect my lack of surprise last week, when he issued a statement disagreeing with the positions of one of the All Progressive Congress presidential aspirants, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Though, were there to be any surprise on the statement, it is the fact that the opposition party does not yet have a presidential candidate, except Baba is perhaps engaging in a subtle campaign and imputing what is already known to all and sundry, that indeed Buhari is the most likely, if not probable candidate, were the opposition to ever have hope of competing and even defeating the behemoth called the People’s Democratic Party. Generally, one does not need to be told or even be given advice that he or she must be balanced in representative nomination, because, we are a deeply diverse and divided country, that was formed as a federation, to be a platform upon which each and every citizen would have a sense of belonging, to feel eligible to aspire to any position they want. Indeed legally, the constitution wrote it into effect, logically, it is the only sure route to gaining confidence of everyone to feel accepted, commonsense wise, you can’t win the trust of the people and gain their votes, by marginalizing them as a sectional community and ever hope they would side with you in any popular electoral contest.
Thus normally, no individual or political party would willingly jeopardize its chances of gaining power, by deliberately adopting a presidential nomination process, that concludes with a ticket of a single faith but it would be highly impolitic, if the demands of meritocracy in governance is substituted for the convenience of mediocrity in power and what says a person from a certain religion is actually representing that particular faith in government, when by the oath of office sworn or by the public utterances made and also by the required religious behavioral code expected, a public officer that steals, partake in bribery and corruption and is derelict in official function, could not have been a worthy representative of such faith, because, no religion in Nigeria preaches such character trait.
While many would not want to believe it, but the truth is that it is not in the balancing of religious representation, challenges of marginalization are settled and here, Niger state serve as perfect example. In 1999 and with the coming of the fourth republic, the transfer of power from the military to the civilians, brought into power a balanced ticket of a Muslim governor with a Christian deputy, but what happened, because the chief executive always went to public functions with prayer beads, spotted long beard, just as he was constantly preaching and proselytizing, the fact that the deputy is of another faith, never made the Christian community to feel they are represented in government, in fact, they often openly complain through organized press conferences by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state, thus as at the time, the state became an open theatre of civil communal violence, especially when the governor sought to ‘re-introduce’ Shari’a Legal System in the state, that only further deepened the feeling of distrust.
However, take the state as of today, as both the governor and his deputy are of the same faith, they are Muslims, yet the state is very peaceful and we have not heard of any claim of marginalization or persecution, which goes to show that it is not about the faith of the candidate that matters but the quality of ideal he, she or they stood for. Also, something unusual accompanied Obasanjo’s advice, rather than the usual characteristic norm of the political season, where parties often exploit every little opportunity to score cheap political points, the opposing People’s Democratic Party is very quiet this time and refusing to condemn its bitter political foe. Do you know why? It is because its candidate has turned a deeply personal and Isolationist activity of having a communion with God, such as the holy pilgrimage, into a highly public affair and a political spectacle, as you just can’t condemn others of religious favoritism, when you are standing on a pulpit and even using expletives to ‘curse’ Governor Rotimi Amaechi from no less a place as the holy land, which leaves many a Nigerian citizen with no choice than to ponder that perhaps, Mr. President has ‘spoiled’ his pilgrimage.
And this other thing:
It is one particular adage that perfectly fits and depicts the Nigerian state, which says; ‘the more it changes, the more it remains the same’. This exactly explains the present situation of the Nigerian economy, despite the peripheral rebasing that ‘pronounced’ a newly diversified Gross Domestic Product, we are simply a nation that relies on a single commodity product, which is the crude oil and there is nothing Drs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance and Yemi Kale of the National Office of Statistics could do or statistically conjure and project, if the ‘gods’ of high fossil fuel energy consumption turns to exploration at home or the renewable energy option. Thus, rather than ‘fiddling’ with the figures, a lot of Nigerians believe it is better to really and actually diversify the economy, while ‘truly’ exploiting and exploring other sectors of economic growth.
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