Home Opinion The Imperative Of Political Exigency Over Religious Sentiment: The Case Of Tinubu-Shettima...

The Imperative Of Political Exigency Over Religious Sentiment: The Case Of Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Ticket | Kazeem Kolawole Raji


Unlike the conventional boxing bouts which have matches for 12 rounds of three minutes per match, the Universal fighting Contest (UFC), also known as Kick boxing has a maximum of five rounds of five minutes per match.

However, despite the lesser amount of time, the UFC combines wrestling, boxing, kick boxing and many other martial arts into one of the most heavily taxing sports. Vldmir Klitschko, a former world boxing heavyweight champion admitted that it is harder to excel in the UFC than conventional boxing because the competition is too fierce.

Just as it is more difficult to excel in kick boxing than normal boxing, so also it is more herculean to distinct in politics in a developing country like Nigeria than most advanced nations and democracies. In advanced democracies, parameters for democratic competitors are open to all political actors.

Issues like wealth redistribution through tax cuts and tax holidays, social security, and protection from external aggressions are in the front burner. No doubt, they have passed the stage of provision of the three basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing or provision of social amenities like pipe borne water, construction of roads and 24hrs electricity supply. They can only consolidate on these.

In Nigeria, it is more about primordial sentimental considerations that are in the front burner for getting elected into public offices. From tribe, ethnic, geo-political zone, gender, religion and other mundane considerations, the lists are endless. Notwithstanding, these puerile considerations, the basic requirements for good governance, provision of adequate social infrastructure, job security, unemployment, functional educational system and others are still confronting us as a nation.

The Muslim/Muslim ticket is one of those sentimental reasonings that is rearing its head in the 2022/2023 political transition in the country.

Religious balancing is one of those diversionary antics that got introduced into our political lexicon some 30yrs ago during the MKO Abiola/Kingibe’s quest for the nation’s Presidency. There is also gender balancing, age bracket balancing, regional balancing and many other trivial reasonings, depending on the antics and wishes of political elites who create such niches to suit their whims and caprices.

The present agitation against same religion ticket though unnecessary is explainable. This is against the massive onslaughts on the populace by Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Boko Haram sect, ISWAP, ISIS and the ravaging banditry of perceived Fulani herdsmen going on across the country but not limited to the Northern region of the country. This has made the demand for a religious balanced Presidential ticket more germane.

However, going forward can we really say in all honesty that the bandits and terrorists’ attacks have Christians as major victims. Of course, the answer is neither here nor there. For one, the predominance of terrorist attacks are in North West and North East geo-polical zones which has the Muslim populace in absolute majority. Of course, there are some isolated attacks on the Christians populace in the Middle belt axis, South West and South East; the latest prominent one being the Owo Catholic Church attack in Ondo State. However, these cannot be compared in intensity and enormity to the orgy of violence being orchestrated by the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East. Needless to also say that the bulk of the killings in the North Central predated the madness of the Islamic terrorists. They are rooted in the indigenes/ settlers crises and herders/ farmers clashes.

The myth of a representative of a particular religion standing firm against terrorists or civil attacks on its members has long been punctured with the performance of former President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, under whose watch the Boko Haram sect grew in bounds and mights. The BH sect became more daring, bombing churches, kidnapping Christians and attacking public edifices like Eagle Square and bombing United Nation building, both in the seat of power, Abuja.

In the face of all these, Jonathan appeared prostrate and helpless. No wonder, he was rejected at the poll in 2015. In the same vein, more Muslims have been murdered through terrorists attacks in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna (states that are hitherto considered terrorists free) under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, a Muslim, than during the Jonathan era. Embarrassingly, his advance convoy was attacked last month by terrorists in his native town of Daura with one personnel losing his life. Even, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a renowned pastor appeared hapless in resisting the barrage of attacks on the Christians. His only visible action geared towards promotion of Christian interest was visiting the Owo church terrorist victims at the height of his failed Presidential ticket mission. The lesson from these is that it takes more than religious background to wrestle the nation from the hands of these marauding killers. It requires someone with adequate understanding of the art and science of state governance, a religious tolerant leader, someone that is firm in decision making but highly compassionate in arriving at such decisions. The religious background of the individual is of lesser weight.

Beyond all the sterling performance of Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State in terms of infrastructural turn-around and urban renewal initiatives, he granted approvals for more churches than all previous administrations combined. In fact, Lagos State witnessed an unprecedented numbers of new churches during Asiwaju’s era with none being demolished for being on the ‘canal’.

Tinubu returned missionary schools to their owners. Of course, the argument can flow that the mission schools belong to both religious sects. However, a cursory stock of numbers of schools involved show a comparative advantages to the Christian folks than the Muslim sects. St. Finbarrs College, Akoka: CMS Grammar School, Bariga; Methodist Boys High Sch, Lagos; Methodist Girls High School, Ebutte Meta; St. Gregory College, Obalende; Our Lady of Apostle College, Yaba; Regan Memorial College, Yaba; Baptist Academy, Obanikoro; Shepherd Hill College, Obanikoro, are a few of the many returned Christian missionary schools while only Ansaru Deen College, Surulere and Anwaru Islam college, Agege, are the Muslim schools returned. It is also on record that as Governor of Lagos State, Tinubu had more Christian presence than Muslims. Starting from the three Deputy Governors: Kofo Bucknor, Abiodun Ogunleye and Otunba Femi Pedro, to prominent cabinet names like Dele Alake, Ben Akabueze, Yemi Cardozo, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, Dr. Leke Pitan, Wale Edun and a host of others. At the home front, even when some Presidential aspirants are Islamising their spouses, Tinubu gave leverage to his wife becoming a Pastor and even witnessed her ordination as a Redeemed church Pastor.

Beyond the fact that it is the prerogative of the candidate to choose his running mate, Kashim Shettima’s record in both public and private sectors speaks volume. In explaining his choice of Shettima as running mate, Tinubu said it was based on his antecedent, performance and track records, and that he wanted a deputy who can help him execute his mission of turning the country’s fortunes for the better.

Tinubu also described Senator Kashim Shettima as a man with the talent, maturity, strenght of character, moral compass and patriotism. These attributes, Tinubu remarked earned Shettima his implicit confidence and faith in him.

Senator Kashim Shettima’s liberal approach to religion was brought to the world attention by Bishop Mohammed Williams Naga, the chairman of CAN, Borno State in an interview on 3rd April 2017, when Sen. Shettima was still the Governor of the state and long before his vice presidential aspiration. Naga asserted in the interview ” I am saying in the presence of God Almighty and this is nothing but the truth, Governor Shettima in the history of Borno State is the only Governor that have sponsored the highest number of Xtain Pilgrims every year since 2011″. He went further, ” I am speaking boldly without fear or favour because as CAN Chairman, I do not receive salary or kobo from Government or any institution but the facts need be told, this Governor has shown compassion to the Christian Community”
Bishop Naga at another forum stated, ” For example, when Gwoza people were driven from their ancestral homes, they fled to Maiduguri and this Governor personally came to CAN office in Jerusalem Ward two, two times in June and July, 2014. He gave N10 Million for their upkeep in the first instance and these victims weren’t many at that time…He also gave an additional N5 to Christian’s from Borno state who fled Borno state to be returned home”

The above are the religious tolerant part of Senator Kashim Shettima. He distinguished himself as a successful Banker and presently a serving Senator after serving Borno state for eight years as a Governor.

From the foregoing, it could be seen that all the noises against a Muslim/Muslim ticket are meant to score cheap political goals. The two candidates involved apart from being Administratively savvy are also religiously tolerant and have a firm understanding of what it takes to govern a multi dimensional and complex country like Nigeria. That is what the Nation requires at the moment.

Kazeem Kolawole Raji (K K) is the Director General of GRAND ALLIANCE FOR TINUBU-SHETTIMA 2023.

Leave a Reply