Religious considerations in Presidential tickets
SOMETIME in January 2022, the controversy surrounding who and where Nigeria’s President would come from triggered some frightening storm across the country. It was a whirlpool of some sort. The controversy took the form of tribal, ethnic, regional and religious colouration.
While the Southern political bloc laid claim to the presidency, rightly so, as the North in truth, has had its fair share, having served two terms of four years each, the North countered that demand of the South. The North wanting to retain political power is premised on the rights across the country to citizens participation in electable political offices in our democratic process. But to well-thinking citizens, this argument of the North is laced with hypocrisy, apart from being laughable. The North’s argument that it was time Nigeria did away with ethnic, regional and religious cleavages tying her to primordial sentiments in the choice of competent, selfless and visionary servants of the state, is neither here nor there.
The Northern standpoint hinged on self-interest, however, is not misplaced, so to reason, taking into consideration the enormous powers of Nigeria’s presidency; its utility value to catchment areas where the presidency finally resides, especially with a Northern Oligarchy with the sophisticated finesse to manipulate such value chain to the overwhelming advantage of the North and its people.
But this should not be in a sane and civil society where equity and justice and “balance” should be the yardstick for electable and appointive offices for good governance in a pluralistic society such as Nigeria. Thank God, Nigeria, for once, sniffed a breath of fresh air recently at the decisive resolution of the All Progressives Congress, APC, governors in support of a Southern presidential candidate in the run-up to the party’s convention which elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Southerner, though a Muslim, as their presidential candidate against all odds. That decision and subsequent election of Tinubu by the APC at their convention was hailed as one that has the potentialities of unifying a largely divided Nigerian state, and capable of engendering inclusive participatory political system in the country.
Arguably, such a move no doubt, would galvanise our elected representatives, the politicians and their vulnerable followers to jettison the cantankerous worms of ethnic chauvinism, acrimony, distrust had over the years held Nigeria hostage.
The sad news, however, is that even after the APC Northern governors stand on balance and fairness in electoral political offices in the country, the ruling party, the APC, with its presidential candidate who rose seamlessly to that candidacy on fairness, equity and justice has wilfully thrown over board the ladder with which he climbed seamlessly to be the party’s presidential candidate for the forth-coming February 2023 presidential election. The party dared the ‘Bull’ in spite of its horns and told Nigerians, matter of factly, that the Christian community can go to hell, by their choice of a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket in spite of the loud outcry against that decision. A decision which most Nigerians believe is inimical to Nigeria’s fair and equitable governance of the Nigerian state.
So, where do we go from here? A Tinubu presidency supported by a deep pocket in the personification of a royal and flamboyant Shettima, a core Northern Muslim, roundly disowned by the Christian community across the nation is already a choice under serious contention. Let us at this junction interrogate Shettima’s acceptance speech at his unveiling as the vice presidential candidate to Asiwaju Tinubu on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. The kernel of his speech as vice presidential candidate to Tinubu was that of an overriding interest and prospects of his party over and above the interest, peace and stability of the nation.
From the foregoing, APC’s paramount interest is in winning the presidential election and not for a pair that would re-energise and inspire Nigerians’ sense of nationalism towards building true nationhood and restoring her diminished national and political ethos of public service for the accelerated socio-economic and infrastructural development of the country.
Their calculation is further buttressed by the recent Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, released data on eligible voters for each geo-political zone in the country. The data shows the percentage of voters in each of the six zones in the country. Of these, the three geo-political zones of the northern flank are apportioned 56 per cent, while the three geo-political zones in the South are allocated 44 per cent of voters. With a Tinubu swing from the South-West, the deal, to APC is done. At least, that is the thinking of APC in the run-up to the presidential election.
The point to note in all of these is that in the event of APC’s Muslim/Muslim ticket victory or PDP’s Christian/Muslim win at the 2023 presidential election, it means the Northern political bloc would rule for yet another uninterrupted eight years, that is, 16 good years running for the Northern Oligarchy to continue to control the nation’s political and economic space; with such audacity to conquer and appropriate and misappropriate the God-given mineral (oil and gas) resources of the Niger Delta region.
To think that, Nigeria, at her present socio-political dislocation and distrust would condescend to accept such Northern political domination speaks volumes of the pervading docility of the electorate, largely illiterate and vulnerable, and controlled by self-seeking politicians whose focus is for self-preservation and for the edification of their corrupt electoral and appointive offices to the utter disregard for best practices in public service. In the circumstance, Nigeria finds itself between ‘the devil and the deep blue sea’, confronted with equally terrible choices, particularly for Niger Deltans and other minorities in the Nigerian State. I say this from the standpoint of an enlightened mind and as a patriot who is disgusted with the present state of affairs of the nation arising from a leadership that is unable to clearly define its problems and find solutions to them.
I dare say that, whether it is eventually a Tinubu, Atiku or Obi leadership, Nigeria shall remain so divided and slide even into greater abyss of political and economic woes if the issue of restructuring of this nation in tandem with True Fiscal Federalism is not squarely addressed. This faulty foundation coupled with a 1999 Nigerian Constitution, largely dubbed as fraudulent and therefore incapable of firing the spirit of nationalism in Nigerians should be interrogated with a view to the birth of a truly Nigerian federal state as we have in America where we borrowed our presidential system of government now in practice.
This is the most demanding task before our political elite as the rebirth of the Nigerian nation lies in the aforementioned; an excavator of some sort to open up the structural defects in the foundation laid by the present 1999 Constitution even as amended. The weak and wobbling pillars built upon this foundation can no longer support the nation’s Green/White/Green flag as a symbol of Truth and Justice, and a nation where no man is oppressed. True Fiscal Federalism with clearly defined responsibilities to the federal and federating units for the good and proper administration of the country to usher in the much-needed unity, peace, security and accelerated socio-economic and infrastructural transformation of the country is the way to go.
It is understandable, however, that elections are at hand and any move at restructuring would meet with stiff opposition, but political parties and their candidates should have this greater task at heart and advance its course for Nigeria’s continued existence as one indivisible nation.
The present Nigerian Constitution is far from being a peoples Constitution which Nigerians can affirm to or own as theirs. This fraudulent and hastily crafted document or grundnorm was done to satisfy the then military regime and skewed to favour a section of this country. Its operation overtime and its negative effects on our political economy and our people has been nothing but a disservice to good governance and the elevation of the people and their environment.
This, therefore, is the greater task ahead of Nigeria and her political elite instead of dwelling on the lesser as we warm up to the 2023 political campaigns across the nation and the eventual February 2023 general elections.
Nigerians, therefore, expect this topical issue of the National Question to be in the front burner of campaign agenda by all the political parties and presidential candidates. It is the belief that whoever wins the presidential election would have the audacity to truly work towards a restructured political system based on True Fiscal Federalism where devolution of powers would be adequately put in place to govern this nation for her peace security and prosperity.