A Muslim/Muslim Presidential Ticket: And So What?
Nigeria is, I beg your pardon, a recklessly religious nation - any three weeks old baby who has been successfully named, whether by Pastors or Imams, will not pretend to be unaware of this fact. The religiousity of Nigerians plays out in everyday life. It manifests in the way Nigerians react to existential challenges, the way Nigerians relate with other humans and the way they interpret commonsensical issues.
An average Nigerian, I believe, had had his or her brain soaked in the palm oil of religion at early childhood; and, quite sadly, most Nigerians grow up unable to interprete the most commonsensical real life issues without viewing it from a myopic, religious standpoint.
One would, naturally, expect that a strictly frivolous issue, such as how best to urinate, will be left in the hands of Common sense. But in Nigeria, this is not the case. Muslims and Christians have different ways of urinating. Muslims ensure that their private parts are washed immediately after urination, while Christians simply urinate and walk away, unconcerned. Debates on whether or not the Muslim way of urinating is better than the Christian way of urinating, as ridiculous as it may seem, has violently plucked countless teeth from the mouth of the faithfuls at beer parlours. This debate has, in extreme cases, made heads roll in several parts of Nigeria.
At the dawn of the Fulani Jihad (1804-1808) led by Usman dan Fodio and the colonization of the territory now known as Nigeria, the ideal way of dressing in major Nigerian cities, too, cannot be established without playing the religious cards. While some strongly believe that the best way of dressing involves covering the whole body except the eyes, others tenaciously hold the view that clothes do not only exist to cover nakedness; clothes are, to them, the core of fashion. How can one be fashionable without exposing some alluring parts of the body?
It will interest the reader, I presume, to know that Nigerians express religious sentiments beyond the ideal way of urinating and of dressing. In Nigeria, religion defines everything. It defines the choice of a marriage partner, the right food to eat, the right business to do, the right movies to see, the right TV station to watch, and even the right to accept or refuse handshake. And to make matters worse, religion has, what a pity, recently crept into the
Nigerian political landscape - fighting breathlessly to oust ethnicity and regionalism (two boisterous beasts that were introduced into Nigerian politics by the Richards constitution of 1946).
Recently, following speculations on the likelihood of fielding Muslim/Muslim presidential candidates, the APC has come under the hottest fire one can but imagine. The party has been accused of having a surreptitious plan of Islamizing Nigeria. Promoting the view that the APC is an Islamic party, speculators and reckless propagandists have continued to point out that all the presidential aspirants under the APC are Muslims. Some have even gone further to say that all the Christians in the APC are not truly born-again.
While I am not writing this article to defend APC nor criticize PDP, I write because it grieves my heart that the religion of an aspirant has suddenly become an issue in the already intricate web of Nigerian politics. Are the Nigerian electorates more interested in having members of their religion represented in the Aso Rock or having visionary leaders, who truly bear their burden and shoulder their pains, represented in the Aso Rock? Are the Nigerian electorates more interested in having a person who professes their god in Aso Rock or having a person who, perhaps is a pagan, will weed the stubborn grasses that have taken over the depleting institutions in Nigeria?
Nigerian electorates ought to be looking out for competence, commitment and confidence in candidates, not ethnic or religious affiliation. We have played the ethnic and religious cards since the inception of Nigeria and it has not, if we must be sincere to ourselves, offered us anything. The power sector is comatose, with Nigeria generating less than 3,000 mega watts.
The oil refineries have refused to work at full capacity; the rate of youth unemployment is rising faster than a yeasted bread; and, summarily, corruption has grown huger wings, flying like kites on the sky of our national life.
These are overwhelming evidence that religion, ethnicity and regionalism have woefully failed us. As the 2015 general elections approaches, as a humble Nigerian I dare say: I don't care about a Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket; I don't care about a Christian/Christian presidential ticket; I don't care about a 'Babalawo/Babalawo' presidential ticket; worse still, I don't care about an Atheist/Atheist presidential ticket - what I care about is any ticket that has visionary leaders that are capable of bringing about the progressive change Nigeria truly deserve. And, frankly speaking, if no presidential ticket carries such candidates then the
morning of the presidential elections will find me in my little wooden canoe, a black hat on my head, fishing. Fishing, methinks, would be a more honourable civic responsibility than vote leaders that will enslave Nigerians and glorify cluelessness for another four years.
Ademule David is a
young banker & student of human society
He writes from Lagos.