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Muslim-Muslim ticket: Slight to diversity

By Alade Rotimi-John
20 July 2022   |   2:59 am
Under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 particularly its section 14 (3), the Nigerian state

Tinubu (right) and shettima exchanging greetings

Under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 particularly its section 14 (3), the Nigerian state is under an unwavering duty to ensure that

“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried on in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in the Government or any of its agencies”.

Even though we have witnessed a glaring, unabashed abuse of this article of faith by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari these seven odd years, it will amount to complacent insensitivity for any person or group of persons aspiring to succeed it to self-gratifyingly propose a continuation of a befuddling Buhari “legacy in government”.

A stupefying absence of dignity of style is on the prowl attempting to find similarity in the Nigeria of 1993 and our present circumstance regarding the stark reality of a general brooding concern for the fate of the Nigerian contraption and a tactless or un-diplomatic foisting on the polity of a same-faith presidential ticket in plural and sorely-divided society.

It is a poor or irreverent rendition of the canonical “As it was in the beginning, is now and evermore shall be…” even as it is unfair to perpetuate unfairness or wrongdoing under any guise or under any unsustainable sense of advantage. Let us for a moment imagine but only for the purpose of an argument, that Christians in Nigeria are a paltry 40% of the population, it will be unwise to discount their sensibilities or predisposition on any matter of general concern. It would have made eminently good sense to add their figure to the whole and thereby achieve unity, peace and a general sense of belonging.

What makes this Muslim-Muslim same-faith presidency even more egregious or nonsensical is the present troubling climate of unprovoked attacks, of premeditated violence and of general banditry unconscionably unleashed against Christian communities particularly in northern Nigeria under the watchful eyes of a presidential ticket that is shared by a Muslim President and a Christian Vice President. It does not require the avowed prowess of Nigeria’s crowd of prophets to imagine or prophesy that under a Muslim-Muslim presidency, Boko Haram, ISWAP, Al-Shabab, marauding Fulani herdsmen militia and such-like terror groups will be emboldened to continue their murderous streak.

It is curious that the proponents of this same-faith presidential ticket did not advert their minds or have impudently ignored the constitutional provision contained in s.15 (2) which seeks, even by its verbiage, to promote national integration by unambiguously prohibiting discrimination on grounds of place of birth, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic ties. What can be more insidious than a situation where a person who is qualified to be nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate is side-lined on the basis of his faith or place of origin. It is untrue that no member of the Christian community in northern Nigeria was found fit and proper to be appointed to balance the APC presidential ticket rather than stoke the embers of religious division by a prejudicial appointment. For the APC itself, this socially-insensitive decision will cost it an unwholesome diversion as much of its valuable time on the campaign trail will be spent on rationalising or justifying its outstanding error of judgement.

It is troubling that Tinubu’s Muslim status is not sufficiently representative of the Nigerian Muslim community even as the presidential candidate of his party. Is it the Orwellian case of some animals being more equal than the others that a fellow Muslim needed to be fetched to complement or validate Tinubu’s Muslim claim? A certain preoccupation with some forlorn history has anointed some people as the spiritual descendants of some sectarian legacy and has made them inheritors of forsaken mythology.

Palpably lacking in our situation is that superintending mind and an imaginative principle that bring all to bear regarding the same end. There is required a world of our imagination in which nothing is commonplace or is taken for granted; in which nothing is done for effect or for some cheap advantage. A spirit of devotion or some commitment to an ideal, not as an act of will but as a natural habit of mind, has been visibly absent in the Tinubu Muslim-Muslim choice of the Vice Presidential candidate, he himself being a Muslim. It is a disregard for Nigeria’s diversity and an unfair or unfeeling statement on the fears and anxieties of a people who have lived under a situation in which their number has not been reckoned with in the scheme of things. Their number may not have counted after all.

The subordination of the plight or peril of a people to a pyrrhic electoral victory is bewildering or baffling. It should be rectified if possible still.

Rotimi-John, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs, wrote vide lawgravitas@gmail.com