-By Austen Akhagbeme:
The media space is once again agog with arguments and counter-arguments about the recent religious choice of a running mate of the Presidential candidate of the ruling party, APC.
The argument is aggressively tilting toward the side of those who have unwittingly chosen to ignore the fundamental reality of the true Nigerian dilemma as against the easier choice to play the ostrich while being politically correct.
Some felt that given the overly precarious situation the APC presidential candidate finds himself, being the beneficiary of the consensus agreement by the majority of the APC northern party leaders to cede the presidency to the South, it, therefore, behoves him to allow for the Muslim majority north to produce a candidate as his running mate despite being a Muslim himself.
This argument according to them, is based on political exigency hinged on the desperate need to win the election by yielding to a religious persuasion presumably capable of delivering their dream. This is angsty. What about the teeming population from other religion who loves the party and their religion, too? Have they suddenly become less northern than others?
Why were we angry about the regional imbalance and berating the perpetrators of this unevenness when we can tolerate and accept religious imbalance, as it were? Why should we hate the calf but loves the beef? Are religion and region, though regrettably, no longer the true reality of Nigerian politics and politicking?
Even Buhari, as desperate as he was to capture the presidency of Nigeria after many attempts, recognised the reality of a mixed joint ticket until he finally mounted on the saddle. So what has changed between then and now? Is religion tolerance better now than before or worse?
It is very easy to misunderstand this writer because of my religious leaning but I will never be cowed and muted because of that. This political miscalculation by the ruling party is not different from the same grievous mistake of the PDP which chooses to feature a candidate from the same region and of the same ethnic stock as the present outgoing President against the party’s statutory agreement.
This blatant display of gross insensitivity to the feelings of the people by both parties shows how much lip service they pay to the genuine needs of the people. Politics is about people. Winning an election to the detriment of the emotional well-being of an already pauperized citizenry is a call to political apathy and distrustful relationships between the rulers and the governed. If we must do away with religion, we must equally do away with region.