Saturday, 9th December 2023

The delicate ethno-religious road to 2023 – Part 2

By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
20 September 2022   |   3:40 am
Perhaps, the electoral achievement of June 12, 1993, that has come to be the cornerstone of our present democracy might not have been possible without that “strategic sacrifice” of stepping down by Atiku (I was not told; I was a live witness of what transpired at the venue).


Perhaps, the electoral achievement of June 12, 1993, that has come to be the cornerstone of our present democracy might not have been possible without that “strategic sacrifice” of stepping down by Atiku (I was not told; I was a live witness of what transpired at the venue). The question we should be asking is, “does he possess the experience and capacity to unifying us and moving the country forward”? So, the issue of his ethnic background should not be a major factor.

In another development, the Muslim–Muslim ticket of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC has also been generating widespread furore. Those condemning it have not also been able to refer us to any section of our subsisting laws that frowned against same-faith pairing of candidates.

The same people have suddenly forgotten that the electoral victory of June 12 1993 was also based on Muslim-Muslim pairing of Chief M.K.O Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. So, why are they celebrating June 12 and seeing the present combination as an abomination? Interestingly, the law makers are representatives of all the states from different religious background. Even in the present political dispensation, there are some states with Muslim-Muslim and Christian-Christian Governors and Deputy-Governors respectively; and, heaven has not come down.

So, why are we bothering ourselves with nothingness? At this age and time, what we should be concerned about is the people that can move the country forward and not the religion they profess; and, that should also be the case if the pairing was a Christian-Christian or Others-Others.

Another delicate situation is the imbroglio surrounding the chairmanship position of Senator Iyorcha Ayu of the PDP as a result of the emergence of Alhaji Atiku (another Notherner) as the party’s presidential candidate. Though, the proponents of his sacking or resignation to give way for a southerner to take his place have not also been able to back their demands with any provisions of the law.

They have suddenly forgotten that Ayu was constitutionally and lawfully elected into office before the presidential primaries was conducted. The two positions are products of separate processes backed by the law; and, if there is anything that must be done to undo the present status or position; that process must also be recognized and backed by the law. If anything is done arbitrary to undo what the law has put in place; such would become illegal and that would not stand in the face of the law.

It does not matter whether Ayu had earlier “promised to resign” or not; or whether Atiku gave his words that “Ayu must go” or not; those words/statements cannot be made sacrosanct when they come pari passu with the law. Ayu definitely knows his right on the matter: and, may want to defend it to the letter; because, it is backed by the law. Therefore, all the name-calling and exchange of hot words will not lead to amicable resolution of the issue.

If there is going to be any headway; such must be through moral suasion which must be guided by mutual understanding and co-operation. Nothing is impossible in politics; because, it is a field where you disagree to agree.  Presently in the ruling party, the sitting president and the chairman are also from the North; and, they are still forging ahead as a national party. Interestingly, the chairmanship positions of both the APC and PDP were hitherto held by Southerners (Adams Oshiomhole and Uche Secondus respectively) before their kinsmen and party members orchestrated their removal.

In another but related development, the supporters of the emerging third force(s) from the other political parties such as that of the Labour Party (Peter Obi) should also be cautious in the way and manner they carry out their activities so that they will not give people the impression that their movement is all about the talks in some quarters that it is the turn of the South-East or Christian to produce the next president. All the rancorous media buzzing, showman-visitations to worship venues, declarations by some highly placed individuals and religious leaders should be tactfully guided in order not to be seen as tacitly drawing battle line along ethno-religious divides.

Some actions could be misinterpreted or misplaced to the extent that such would inadvertently result to loss of genuine love and support of those who would invariably see their religion or ethnic affiliations as the targets of abuse. Winning presidential election under the present democratic set up is a function of majority votes and obtaining 25% of the valid votes in at least 24 states. The spread is key; and, no one ethnic or religion can do it in isolation.

At this junction, it is very important to state it equivocally, that this review is without prejudice to the individuals and parties mentioned and not mentioned therein. The instances shared above are the delicate and crucial areas that need to be addressed urgently to forestalling imminent dangers for our democracy in the road to 2023. The ongoing political maneuverings and movements are gradually giving the impression of “gang up” of the South against the North and vice versa; and, if the situation continues unabated; it is capable of leading us back to the era of the North/South dichotomy. If that be the case, the ethno-religious affiliations of the vice presidential candidates of the major parties will count for less or nothing; because, there will be mass decamping and antiparty activities across the political platforms based on the ethno-religious affiliations of the presidential candidates; and, this will be detrimental to our democracy as the electorates will have no other option than to vote along the lines of the three major geopolitical divides of North, West and the East as it were in the days of old.

At the end of the day, the desperately sought equity and justice will further be flushed down the drain; because, you cannot build something on nothing. Everything has to be done in accordance to the law.
From the foregoing, the earlier those concerned see the dangers ahead and put things in place to averting same; the better it will be for all and sundry.


Oise-Oghaede wrote from Suru-lere, Lagos; and, he can be reached via