It’s been a couple of days now that various media spaces have been agog with mixed reactions over the selection of a Muslim from the North, Kashim Shettima, by the presidential flagbearer of the APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
With the selection of Shettima from Borno State, many Christians have kicked about such a combination. The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) issued a statement via its Secretary General, Rev Fr Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi, and the Director of Social Communication, Rev Fr Michael Nsikak Umoh, warning political parties in the country to avoid presenting a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections.
With the show of this fuss, it implies that some of us are merely being intolerant. As a people, we have shied away from addressing what basically is our problem as a nation and have delved into what has always tried to polarise us.
We have approved that some of those on the pulpit should throw their conscience to the wind and preach sentiment by carefully preaching sectionalism while ignoring, displacing or replacing reality. And funny enough, all these acts are done without any thought of the existence of the adherents of the traditional religion. Most of us have collectively, decided to throw away our thinking caps despite our levels of exposure.
Considering the situation that the country finds itself in at present, should our focus be on canvassing for rightful candidates that we feel are competent enough to transform our economy regardless of their religious inclinations or not or our strengths directed at having candidates that we profess the same religion with? Assuming an aspirant decides to select a prudent and intelligent nationalist who happens to be an idol worshipper as a running mate, does that mean we would trade his competence with his failure to profess Islam or Christianity with someone less competent?
Having an imam or a reverend in a position of authority is not a bad idea, but in politics, that is not what matters. Every politician desires to win elections through whatever means. That is why we have multiple political parties for people to choose from. If we can trust the makers of the automobiles we joyfully ride without making much ado about their religious biases, why do we have to make much fuss about a Muslim-Muslim combination? After all, the combination is neither in violation of any religious doctrine nor a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Those who feel bitter about the combination can make a call for amending our constitution to make it a rule for our politicians to make their subordinates adherents of other religions.
Nonetheless, I think we should be much appreciative of the fact that we practice democracy in Nigeria, with multiple political parties and candidates for one to choose from. Hence, there shouldn’t be much cause for alarm. Politics is all about winning elections and not winning emotions. Else, we lose focus from addressing the issues that need attention to other mundane and trivial ones. The earlier we re-focus the better for us as a nation. After all, ethnic and religious biases are not what would bring about the desired transformation that is required in nation-building.
Kamaluddeen Isa El-Kalash wrote in from Kontagora and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.