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APC’s same-faith ticket re-opens old wounds, says PDP chieftain

By Leo Sobechi, Abuja
19 July 2022   |   4:00 am
The same-faith presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has re-opened old wounds in the North, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Plateau State, Chief Jonathan Akuns, has said.

The same-faith presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has re-opened old wounds in the North, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Plateau State, Chief Jonathan Akuns, has said.

In a phone chat with The Guardian, yesterday, he contended that though Nigerians always draw attention to Fulani and Hausa as the main ethnic groups in the North West, the hegemons rely on Islam for governance and exclude same ethnic cum regional cohorts that are Christians.

Maintaining that some speakers want to use the same template at the national level, Akuns said it might end up creating instability. 

He said: “All elected leaders of Nigeria from the North have been Fulani Muslims, but none of them has ever appointed a Fulani or Hausa Christian from North West region into any governmental office, why?

“Beside appointments, Hausa and Fulani Christians in the North West region are always discriminated upon in every sphere of life, why? When other regions and ethnic groups adopt the North West template, Islamic clerics will shout hoax, why?”

Akuns, who contested the PDP governorship primary, disclosed that Christians’ attitude towards electoral process “is not so much about lack of numbers,” but one of ethics and plural diversity.

“Ethically, religion and marriage are two social indulgences that are appropriated at a personal level under mutually exclusive privacy. Regional and ethnic affiliations form the basis for organising societies for good governance.

“Religion is subsumed into the ethnic-cum-regional framework without making it a stand-alone parameter. When speakers emphasise reliance on religion, beside region and ethnicity, as the key variables for governance, it turns out to be a double-speak encrusted with ill motives,” he added.

The former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official remarked that Lebanon, Syria, Sudan and other religion-sensitive states were stunted and unstable due to heavy reliance on religion as the basis for public life.

His words: “Whereas religion, just as marriage, is a matter of private life and living and not for organising society for public life of governance, region and ethnicity are essential ingredients for inclusive governance that help to stabilise society.

“United Kingdom and Switzerland rely on region and ethnicity as the basis of an inclusive governance framework for multi-culturalism and peaceful coexistence. A secular governance environment is often created, built and nurtured around ethnic and regional affiliation.”
  
According to him, Nigeria is treading along a slippery path of religion, rather than learning from other countries such as Lebanon. The six geographical regions of Nigeria approximate our ethnic-cum-regional cleavage, as well as the pristine territorial entities that existed ex-ante colonialism. 
 
‘He stressed: “We can take advantage of these territorial lines to restructure and devolve political power in Nigeria for inclusiveness and stability.”